Specialized firms like The Irish Pub Company (IPC) and ÓL Irish Pubs Ltd., both based in Dublin and backed by Guinness, along with smaller, more locally focused outfits like Love Irish Pubs, have helped install prefab pubs everywhere from small-town Ireland to Lagos, Nigeria.
Drinking in these retrofitted spaces is oddly comforting, akin to visiting Colonial Williamsburg or MGM Studios in Orlando. Fake-real pubs have unusual, undeniable appeal: They are grounded in something tangible and knowable, yet they exist apart from reality, and free from chaos and uncertainty.
Can these artificial Irish pubs be everything we want them to be? (Yes, of course they can. That’s the point.)
Even though many are “cookie cutter”, I still love the look and feel of a “true” Irish pub. My favorite was a hole in the wall Irish place in New York City off of Times Square we found during one Macworld Expo. Everyone who worked in the pub was actually from Ireland, many with accents so thick we could barely understand them. We closed the place down over several nights.