We are an importer, exporter & wholesaler of alcoholic beverages & food with type 14 public warehouse & fulfillment service

The Real Reason Most Irish Pubs Are Named After People

It’s comforting to know that even abroad, we’re never too far from the warm atmosphere of an Irish pub and a proper pour of Guinness. Whether you’re in the U.S., Mozambique, Japan, England, or Dublin itself, you’ll likely stumble across one of these cozy bars, usually bearing a popular Irish surname: think Murphy’s, Kelly’s, O’Malley’s, and the like. This repetitive naming practice isn’t just a coincidence or a common branding choice — the root of the tradition can actually be traced back to some 19th-century legislation.

In the 1800s, Ireland was under English rule and governed by the U.K. Parliament in London. England expressed concern about alleged alcohol-related issues in Ireland, so the U.K. passed several laws in an attempt to regulate Irish pub culture, with the most notable being the Licensing Act of 1872. This legislation implemented strict laws around public intoxication, bar operating hours, and sanitary standards. One of its other stipulations: Each Irish bar must display the owner’s name above the door. The primary goal of the amendment was to increase the accountability of pub owners, making it easier for the government to regulate the establishments and enforce other new regulations pertaining to the sale of alcohol.

During the Great Famine, many Irish citizens fled to cities like Boston and New York, establishing the Irish pub as a stateside mainstay. These bars stuck to their traditional names and the trend quickly caught on, spreading names like O’Neill and Finnegan across the country.

The Washington Post recently analyzed the impact of this naming movement in the U.S. The publication found that more than half of the nation’s Irish pubs reference an Irish name in their titles — 8 percent with first names and 49 percent referencing last names. It also compared the top surnames in America’s Irish pubs (Murphy, Kelly, O’Malley, O’Brien, and O’Connor) to the most popular in Ireland (Ryan, Murphy, Kelly, Byrne, and O’Brien). This demonstrates clear overlap, but also some key differences. Where are all the Ryans over here?

Pubs on the Emerald Isle no longer have to abide by the now-defunct legislation, but about one in six bars there are still owned or operated by someone whose name is displayed on the business. What began as a restrictive English law has since evolved into a calling card, and a beloved tradition for Irish bars around the world.

*Image retrieved from Pablo D. Flores via Wikimedia

The article The Real Reason Most Irish Pubs Are Named After People appeared first on VinePair.

Leave a Comment

Resize text-+=