Three Drinks you must give it a try while your visit to Dublin.
Pride and shame live very close to each other. Even at the edge or beginning of Europe, in Dublin, it was often no different. For centuries the Irish have boasted of their golden poison – whiskey – to the whole world. And yet they embarrassed their women into the 1960s when they drank of it in pubs. According to social conventions, this was not ladylike; the Irish clergy also became very sad.
That’s why the snugs came into being on the island. Small, opaque cabins in the pubs, with a secret entrance and a hatch through which the barman could administer the material. Mainly to ladies, but also police officers and priests. And today? Do the snugs still exist? If so, who is in it? And why?
Ryan’s of Parkgate Street is not far from the Heuston Train Station, centrally located, but not yet in the center of the city. Since 1886, one of the oldest pubs in the town. The old venerability is freshly felt. An old-fashioned clock sits enthroned above the wood-paneled counter, ticking away mannerliness to the guests — the dimmed glow from yellowish chandeliers. The bottle-pregnant shelves, the floor, the curved faucets – everything bears the soothing and forgiving color of whiskey. There’s a snug, too, in the furthest corner. “Private” is written on a sign to avoid misunderstandings. Three outward-facing mirrors form the facade. Only when waiters rush in can you see a young woman and two or three young men sitting around a table through the gate. I place myself as close as possible to the snug, to the outermost corner of the bar. The waiter asks what I want with the compact courtesy of a bus driver. “A cider please,” apple sparkling wine, another Irish proud specialty. “Sweet or bitter?” Without waiting for my answer, he brings two tasting glasses. The sweeter Orchard Thieves will. I take a little courage and take care of the snug, to mid-twenties who are a little perplexed, but good-tempered.
“Did you come all the way here for the snug?” – “Actually just Patrick,” everyone says except Patrick and points to the youngest of the three gentlemen. He says, “Snugs are so cozy.”
“And do you know the story?”
Short general education mumbling, then one says: “Something about women who weren’t allowed to go to pubs.”
“Sorry for being so direct,” I’m still a bit bothered, “but were you the only lady in the group to know that?
So much the better. What for first think oneself into the nonsense?
I ask my waiter, who looks like an Irish Zac Efron, for a second snug pub. He brings the bald Shawn from the bar to help. “A snug, oh Jesus,” whispers Shawn, and his eyes widen anxiously. Then they consult, waving their arms wildly as if the answer could be caught instead of imagined. The Long Hall on George’s Street is where the Irish Zac Efron finally circulates.
George’s Street is one of the pulsating chambers in the faster beating heart of the capital on Saturdays. It is eccentrically located in the Creative Quarter, where house facades are decorated with a slightly different picture of the Last Supper, and cafés are vain. The many flashing nightlights are reflected in the water of the Liffey and color; it sometimes purple, sometimes yellow. From the sky it rains massive amounts of Irish weather tradition. Double-decker buses roar over Dublin’s many bridges.
The air in the Long Hall is already beer pregnant and loud around ten. There’s no need for privacy devices in this crowd, as everyone can only see up to the next shoulder. The bartenders in their black shirts look like seasoned sailors at the humid hustle and bustle in front of them. Sprawling chandeliers, red walls on which shotguns and paintings from the time when Napoleon was still a thing hang. Of the snugs, only a few wooden skeletons remain, but they are scattered throughout the room like the winded remains of a house of cards. In one sits a lesbian couple holding hands. Perhaps the most beautiful way to show that morality bunker is no longer necessary today.
To maintain the level, I order a 16-year-old Irish Glenfiddich. He glows evenly and patiently in his mouth.
On the wall, I discover the James Joyce Award as an authentic pub in Dublin. The writer Joyce let his protagonist in Ulysses ponder whether it would be possible to walk through Dublin without crossing a pub. (In 2011 a computer scientist solved this problem using an algorithm.) But I still need a third drink, and one of the bartenders recommends Walsh’s to me.
It is also located in the quieter streets of Stoneybatter. A rustic neighborhood is full of workers’ houses that refuse to flash purple or yellow (they are said to be losing this fight against gentrification). There is still nothing Baroque in oil on the walls, black and white newspaper clippings, wanted letters, and a wedding photo hanging there. The snug is directly at the entrance — a wooden cabin with milky opaque windows, almost reminiscent of a church. I order a 21-year-old Redbreast – named after the native bird that stays on the island even in winter. And get in touch with Paddy because we’re standing next to each other at the bar. Are we supposed to keep quiet?
Not in Ireland. Paddy, rain jacket thrown over the bus driver’s uniform, wears cheerful wrinkles on his face and tells of his three children who have all become artists. He is somewhat disappointed by my ignorance of rugby. “I wonder who’s in the snug, Paddy.” – No problem,” Paddy says. Runs straight ahead (four Guinnesses straight forward) to the snug, opens the door, pushes me in. Again three gentlemen and a lady. Similar conversation, only funnier: “What does the word snug mean at all?” – “You know, snug like a bug in a rug.” Comfortable like a beetle in a carpet. Thinking from the left: “What if the beetle is huge, but the carpet is tiny? Consideration from the right: “Or the beetle small, but the carpet massive?” At this point, I should perhaps close the door to our snug better.