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A Pint of Plain: Tradition, Change, and the Fate of the Irish Pub Paperback – Bargain Price, February 2, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Walker & Company; 1 edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080271062X
  • ASIN: B005DIAJC8
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Shhhhhh. . . . Don’t tell, but this is really a book about globalization, not about “yer only man” (i.e., the well-pulled pint of porter). With “Oirish” pubs cropping up in every burg and burb, what has happened to the originals? American emigrant Barich starts looking around his new neighborhood in Dublin for the pub of his dreams, where the pints are frothy and the conversation lofty. He finds the locals, both the pubs and their patrons, displaced by glamorous versions of themselves, and he discovers that he has unwittingly become part of a global plot to replace the real with the faux. He finally does find a few remaining magical places (once he gets out of Dublin, which for some readers will not be soon enough), but they are hanging-on-by-the-thumbnails operations in danger of going poof or pouf. Most browsers will pick this up because they want to read about Irish pubs, but they will get much, much more than they expected. An excellent, however sneaky, addition to the literature of globalization. --Patricia Monaghan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“With scholarly rigor, he surveys the literature on the history of drinking, drunkenness and pubs before rewarding himself with the grueling and perilous fieldwork of sampling deeply from the 12,000 outposts in Ireland where alcohol is sold by the glass…Mr. Barich's picaresque meander through the Irish bloodstream is an entertaining survey of the culture and commerce of Ireland at a tremulous moment in its history…Fascinating.”Wall Street Journal

“Most browsers will pick this up because they want to read about Irish pubs, but they will get much, much more than they expected. An excellent, however sneaky, addition to the literature of globalization.”—Booklist

“Barich weaves a never-ending stream of oddly engaging historical and literary references into every dead end…Barich’s passion for boozy subjects is broad and undeniable. He’s equally at ease covering the effects of the temperance movement and introducing regional slang terms for being drunk.”—New York Times Book Review

“The American writer Bill Barich moved to Ranelagh, on Dublin's south side, some time ago and set out to find the perfect Irish pub. A Pint of Plain: Tradition, Change, and the Fate of the Irish Pub is an engaging account of his quest and investigations.”Boston Globe

“Nicely researched, intelligently written, his book is a fun read tinged with melancholy at the thought of time passing and things changing; appropriately Irish, I think.”Minneapolis Star Tribune


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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Drink is a good man's weakness." Proverbial wisdom Barich passes along during his personal and historical tour of Irish pubs. "Fairytale Ireland" may be marketed under the "Irish Pub Concept" pre-fab faux-antique corporate chains, as traditional pubs decline and decay under stricter drunk-driving laws. These in turn necessitated by the commuters ripping along (Barich estimates a fifteen-fold increase) rural roads as tract homes tear up fields for the Celtic Tiger's rapacious tail. And, such new residents don't frequent the "local," preferring their Carlsberg or Coors in cans from the logoed franchises that replace the family-run stores in the market towns overwhelmed by the blow-ins from the cities and all over the world.

So the cycle continues, and Long Island-born, California-residing Barich, now moved himself to Dublin, tells the tale of a slow death to civility, custom, and charm. About half his book takes place in Dublin, and he tells each chapter set there with grace and pace. He knows how to veer from his main story into anecdotes and byways before returning to his narrative, and this relation of his saga reflects well how a tale's told by a teller in a pub. He classifies the remaining pubs into trophy bars, pitched for tourists more than the neighbors and often based on their venerable status; pleasant but less distinguished corner houses; and corporate chains, which in Ireland appear to erase their "tradition" for a streamlined gentrification, even as abroad you find such enterprises as a hundred "Harrington & Sons" fake pubs saturating the Italian consumer.

Such globalization leads to Irish rejection of Guinness as an old man's heavy stout.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
A PINT OF PLAIN: TRADITION, CHANGE AND THE FATE OF THE IRISH PUB arrived too late for St. Patrick's Day feature in our March issue but deserves a place in any general lending library strong in Irish history, culture and food and drink. After meeting an Irishwoman in London and moving to Dublin the author began seeking a traditional Irish pub to be 'his'. His search offers views of a bygone Ireland, modern Irish culture, blends in literary references, and offers a warm glimpse into Irish drink and daily living. Highly recommended.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S. Hawk on April 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Wow...I really enjoyed this little book that I picked up more or less as an afterthought. Great writing and alot of fun. I have spent alot of time in Ireland, especially in the past two years - therefore I concur with the author's thoughts on the mass commericalization of Irish Culture (and thus it's decline). Thought provoking and fun at the same time!
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By Gerry Kevil on August 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Well-written and well-researched. It's part travelogue, part history(of drinking and drinking establishments in Ireland) and part commentary on the state of the Irish pub and the impact of globalization. Frankly I don't think the angry one-star reviewers read this book. The author understands that change is often necessary but what bothers him is the speed and the unquestioning acceptance of all of the change brought about by globalism. A higher GNP is all well and good but shouldn't we also consider the effect globalization has on our heritage, culture and environment?
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By D. Hurt on March 20, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was an interesting book. I checked out a few of these pubs in Ireland and the descriptions were accurate. I especially liked the Grave Diggers Pub next door to the Glasnevin Cemetary. It's not a flashy sports pub but it is one of a kind.
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By Debra Mullen on January 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
good story of the history of the public houses in Ireland and how society and DUI laws have changed things.
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By A Reader on June 7, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Love this book. Informative, sad, funny, and well-written. An incisive look at the dying traditions of Irish culture. A terrible loss.
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Format: Paperback
This book follows the author's attempt to come to terms with his search for the true Irish pub in the midst of globalization and the massive changes that have happened in Ireland since the 1960s. Barich is aware that the authentic isn't always easy to find and at some level may even be an illusion. However, he doesn't want to give up looking.

He's in love with the movie The Quiet Man (not one of my favorites, but OK) and the chapter on the horrible disappointment that he experiences in going to Cong, where it was set, is poignant. Personally, I'm all for bars/pubs/taverns/whatever without TVs. I can appreciate that part of his search and his disappointment in finding more Americanized pubs wherever he goes. At the same time, he notes that his Irish friends don't want to go back to their childhoods of repressed, depressed 1960s and earlier Ireland either.

I'd thought that the book would be a cozy read about "fairytale Ireland," as he calls it. It was more interesting and insightful than that because he tries to figure out what to do when an ideal is receding but still present.
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