Undoubtedly, when you think of Dublin, one of the first things you think of is pubs. It’s fitting, then, that a museum in the Irish capital has opened an exhibit celebrating the city’s drinking establishments—there, the technical term is “public house”—over time. 

“The Little History of the Dublin Pub” exhibit opened this week at The Little Museum on St. Stephen’s Green. It commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Licensed Vintners Association, the trade association for Dublin’s pubs, and spotlights watering holes from Victorian times to the present.

It runs through September 24.

 According to an article in the Journal, a Dublin newspaper, the new exhibit shouts out to 16 Victorian-era pubs that still exist today, including The Palace Bar, Swan Bar, The International Bar, and The Long Hall, which celebrated its 250th birthday last year. Curiously, The Temple Bar, a popular watering hole among tourists, is not on the list. 

Fittingly, a separate article in the Times, a paper from London, indicated that the idea for the exhibit was born in a pub. That piece quoted curator Simon O’Connor as saying, “Unlike many ideas that come up in the pub, this one bore fruition and made it to the next day.” 

Overall, the exhibit tells its stories mostly through photographs and artifacts—old pint glasses, old bottle openers, old signage, and more.

One section chronicles the earliest days of Dublin pubs, back when many of the joints were nothing more than front rooms in owners’ private homes. Another area pays tribute to the Dublin version of Happy Hour, which historically was dubbed Holy Hour. 

In a different corner of the exhibit, a sequence of panels provides colorful backstory on Father Theobald Mathew’s crusade to convert Ireland to sobriety with the Temperance Movement in the 1830s.

 The museum even has erected a replica of a snug—the tiny, mostly hidden bars that emerged in the early 1900s as private, more intimate drinking establishments. Exhibit signage notes that snugs had a particularly spirited (pun intended) following among women because most of the mainstream drinking establishments catered only to men. 

It’s worth noting that unless you join the museum as a member, the only way you can experience the new exhibit is to sign up for a guided tour. Tours leave on the hour, every hour, all day long. Sláinte!

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