In the years after the Great Potato Famine, Irish people ate simple foods and were careful not to be wasteful. Even today, potatoes and bread are staples in their daily diet. As time went on and the country prospered, more of a variety of foods were added to their diet. Many of these foods were grown on the family farms. Irish meals can be simple, as well as quite elegant.
Beer. Ale, and Spirits
The Irish are well know for their appreciation of a good drink. Stout, a strong, dark, malty-tasting beer, is Ireland's most popular drink.
The Guinness family began brewing its stout in 1759 along the banks of Dublin's Liffey River, where it has been produced ever since. Today the Guinness brewery covers one square mile and has its own railroad. Guinness claims over 60 percent of the beer market in Ireland and is exported to more than 100 countries around the world.
Another popular native product is Irish Whiskey. There are several brands, each with is own distinctive taste, and people tend to remain loyal to one. In contrast to American or Canadian whiskey, the Irish variety is made with barley, not corn or rye. It is malted and distilled three times, giving it a smoother, milder flavor than Scotch, which is distilled only once.
The Irish Pub
In the small villages that dot Ireland, the pub plays an important role in social life; it is the social hub of the community. For instance, Dingle town--population 1,000--boasts more than 50 pubs. That's one pub for every 20 people. After supper, village folks meet a the local pub and don't go home until everyone a the table's politely bought a round.
The Irish playwright and writer, George Bernard Shaw maintained that the Irish find their imaginations too tortuous to bear without whiskey. More likely it's the pub as much as the pint that the Irish would find life unbearable without.