The exhibition examines pubs down the ages in terms of architecture as well as their importance as sites of social change and how they reflected the society around them.
“We’re looking at what people might think of as Classic Dublin pubs” explains Simon O’Connor, Curator of the Little Museum of Dublin, “at how pubs have changed towards the end of the 20th Century, incorporating lounges and serving food as well as those who’ve attached a nightclub.”
The exhibition highlights Dublin pubs’ place in major historical events in the city – especially in the 20th Century – as well as the role some played in the Easter Rising and the civil war.
Scattered through these narratives, the exhibition looks at the business of pubs including the former tradition of bottling one’s own whiskey and stout.
“People realise that pubs are historical repositories of industrial heritage and social history,” explains Simon, “They’re story-magnets, full of amazing stories and anecdotes, so we’re trying to gather and incorporate these as much as possible in that they display the character of the city too.
“There’s a privacy to pubs where things that happen within the four walls have resonance for all of us.”
The Association also put out a call to members seeking different items of pub paraphernalia while looking for stories that could be of use to the exhibition.
“There’s been great contact and feedback from Dublin publicans and we’re sifting though that” explains Simon, “gathering anecdotes and looking at which physical items to have on display so a huge range of items relate to everything we’re talking about in the exhibition.”
From talking to different publicans in the course of the research Simon has gleaned that the pub is a place where everybody can go from all walks of life.
“Opening for 12 to14 hours a day, publicans could make your eyes water with the list of different people who come in apart from those of us who pop in of an evening,” he says, “All human life and all Dublin life can be found in pubs at different points in time.”
As well as working with the LVA, the Little Museum has been working with Diageo through the Guinness archive and one of the highlights of the exhibition is the recreation of a classical Dublin ‘snug’.
“The snug has this very special place in the heart of Dubliners who enjoy going to pubs in the city,” he concludes, “But everyone has very conflicting opinions on what makes the perfect snug.”
The exhibition opens on 1st June and runs for three months, closing at the end of August.