When the two longtime friends and Milton residents set out to gather information for a definitive tome on Irish pubs in the U.S., they devoted the lion’s share of their time checking out worthy candidates for inclusion.
“It could be considered one of the world’s longest and most inclusive pub crawls ever,” Wallace said. “We estimated we travelled about 50,000 air miles, spent a full year visiting hundreds of pubs. Each pub took anywhere from about four hours to all day and half the night.”
The result, “Irish Pubs In America: History, Lore and Recipes,” spotlights more than 50 prominent Irish pubs nationwide, including Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub, Meehan’s Public House, RiRa and Mac McGee’s in the metro Atlanta area
Wallace, who opened Olde Blind Dog in Milton after educating himself about what makes Irish pubs great, said they are different from other taverns, clubs and restaurants.
“An Irish pub draws a unique set of customers. It is for everyone. Once at the pub it doesn’t matter who you are,” he said. “Informal is an understatement.”
People know an authentic Irish pub the second they walk in the door, he said, because it will have the atmosphere, the food and what Celtic people refer to as craic, or convivial banter and entertaining conversation.
“An underlying objective of the book is to honor the contributions that Irish immigrants have made to this country, using the Irish pub to tell that great saga,” Meyer said. “We were not looking for the biggest or best-known pubs, although some pubs do fit that category.
“We sought those which have photographic appeal and great narratives. The trick is to peel back the layers of the onion to uncover the essence so the reader will want to turn to the next pub profile.”
.Some research was done prior to physically visiting pubs. “I had input from a major beer company that gave us a few tips and suggested some of the more unique pubs,” Wallace said.
“From that point we searched out many pubs on our own from a variety of sources. We then found other pubs throughout the journey. Bob did extensive research during the year long process and even more after the visits were completed.”
In selecting those that would make it into the book, Wallace said he and Meyer were looking “for the strong Irish stories, the history, the buildings, the customers. Older was better but not required. We passed on make believe Irish pubs and there are a lot of them.”
Only 52 made the cut out of hundreds that were considered.
Full of visually arresting photographs, fascinating history and great stories, the spirit of this coffee table-sized book is quintessentially Irish.
And that is precisely what makes a pub the real thing, the authors agree.
“Great Irish pubs warm your heart the minute you walk in. Many are dark and mysterious. Others are filled with light. They are places where the important moments in life are celebrated: graduations, weddings, even funerals,” Meyer said.
“Some are gorgeously bedecked with antiques, cut glass and fanciful fixtures; others are quite simple, but life happens in an Irish pub like nowhere else.”
The $49.95 book is available to purchase year around at Olde Blind Dog, 12650 Crabapple Road in Milton. It can also be ordered from www.irishpubsbook.com.