Another thing I'll miss about Ireland is the pub.
My favorite is Duff's. The owner, Frank Duff, was/is a cyclist and the pub is filled with old fashioned bicycles, awards, and various cycling accoutrement. The Tour de France of 1998 went through the main street so he has signs from it and various other cycling races hanging on the walls and from the ceiling.
As any proper Irish pub should, it has comfy chairs grouped around tables, a bar with high stools that winds around to the back of the pub, and Guinness on draught. It feels like you are sitting in your living room, chatting with your friends but with a friendly person bringing you drinks, peanuts, and the ubiquitous and fragrant packet of cheese and onion crisps.
Anyone who's been to Ireland knows the pub is not just a tourist gag. If you find the real one in any town you've found the pulse. It is rare to see anyone obviously hammered….not like when you're at the nightclub variety of pub. People just sit, have a drink or few, and chat. When it's a great night of laughter and fun they call it good craic, pronounced crack. Not the drug or what's visible at the top of plumber's jeans, just good fun, verbal sparring and quick wit.
In a good Irish pub you'll find the following on any given night: older men gathered around the bar talking to the bartender, groups of older men and women sitting around tables, the younger set mixed in with those of us who are comfortably parked in our late 30s and early 40s, and the couple whispering quietly. This jumble of ages and people is what makes the pub so great. Its purpose is to bring us together, even on the dark, cold nights of an Irish winter. The best pub wards off the loneliness that can creep up on long nights and keeps the community connected.