Monday, September 01, 2008

A Bit O' Irishness.....

Since my eyes still aren't up to much use, here's a little information from an Irish Newsletter I subscribe to. I'm a great fan of Ale, Scotch, AND Irish Whiskey. Perhaps my having a great grandfather who was half Irish would account for that. Or, maybe I was just blessed with the ability to recognize quality beverages. After all, I'm also a big Moxie soda fan. I'll leave you to the reading as I seem to have developed an over-powering thirst for some Jameson's. The tradition of hanging signs inside and outside pubs is well established in Ireland but dates back to the fourteenth century when the English King Richard II decreed that landlords were compelled to place signs outside their commercial establishments, pubs, hotels, etc. Irish public houses did not comply as readily as their English counterparts and often the name of the owner alone adorned the tavern front. Irish pubs also acted as 'spirit grocery' shops and some even acted as insurance agents and undertakers, a tradition which can still be found in some Irish towns in Ireland today. Signs began to develop and became more elaborate and decorative. Many of the earliest signs would not have included any text as the majority of the population were illiterate. Symbols and pictures were thus used to illustrate the function of the business displaying the sign. In latter years the name of the landlord was added. It was not uncommon (and is not uncommon in Ireland in modern times) for public houses to display the family coat of arms either on their pub-sign, or on the window of the establishment. Great battles and historical events also proved popular subjects for both pub signs as well as for naming the public house in question. Heroes of Irish literature such as Yeats, Kavanagh, Shaw, Joyce and Beckett also provide a great source of pub naming and signage. A fine example of this naming tradition is the 'Bleeding Horse' pub which is located on Camden Street in Dublin city centre and dates from 1649.

One explanation of the name is that horses used to be 'bled' after arriving at this stopping point as a means of reducing their blood pressure and calming them after their journey. Another legend relates to the 1649 Battle of Rathmines when injured horses were put to death nearby after the battle. A further explanation of the name tells how a bleeding horse wandered into the tavern after the Battle. The tradition of Irish pub signs was brought to the new world during the mass emigrations of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The subjugation of the Irish people in certain eras is also evidenced by the use of (by now infamous) derogatory signs such as 'Help Wanted - No Irish Need Apply!'. Many of the modern Irish signs outside of Ireland reflect the tradition of the emigrants and can display a certain amount of wit or sentimentality. Shamrocks and Harps, the great symbols of Ireland, are often found on such signs.

Sign at a pub in Canada

For more information on Ireland, Irish goods for sale, and most things you'd need to link to, these things & much more can be found at: free Irish resources

You can even find links to where you can get nifty Irish Pub signs for your own 'Pub Room". Take care.

8 comments:

Muhd Imran said...

I don't drink as I am a Muslim, but I find the history how signs came about very interesting.

This post and many other posts you have are educational as it is interestingly fun.

Thank you for sharing.

Sandy's Notes said...

Made me thirsty until I read about bleeding horses! We humans are so weird aren't we!

Brother Tim said...

This old Irishman always had an affinity for Old Bushmills, it's the only thing with 'Bush' in it that's worth anything.

tweetey30 said...

Those were cool to look at even though we dont drink acohol.. I dont like it one bit. My grandmother was an acoholic so I stay away from the stuff.

Linda said...

The Hairy Lemon?...I think I found one of those in my fridge once...Good info and photos... I have a big Guinness sign in my kitchen...Thanks...

an average patriot said...

Man that is excellent. Love those pubs and Guiness stout is my favorite!

thewishfulwriter said...

I'm feeling...what's the word...what's the word...

oh yeah.

parched.

that's it.

:)

greymatters said...

It's a wee early in the morning to crave a drop of whisky, but damn. I might have to stop by the local pub for a bit of strong waters.