Walk down the street of any town, walk through any village, and everything is closed. The pubs that would have been islands of light and sound on a Friday evening are firmly shut against all comers. It does not seem like the weekend. It seems a far remove from memories of college days in Dublin where there was always somewhere open.
One memory remains of a Munsterman who had a fondness for transporting us from the Church of Ireland college in Churchtown up to Lamb Doyle’s pub at the edge of the Dublin mountains. It seemed an odd thing to do, there were numerous pubs within easy walking distance for someone looking for refreshment after a day at the books.
We went there, I was told, because Lamb Doyle’s was bona fide.
It was an odd way of talking about a pub, I thought. Only when I went to live in Dublin did I discover that “bona fide” meant something altogether different from simple good faith.
Scholars of James Joyce would have fully understood why the Munsterman drove up from Churchtown.
“In Ireland until very recently the public houses and ordinary drinking places closed nightly, by law, at hours varying between 10:30 and 11:30 p.m. The ordinary hapless drinker was then required to go home, if his home was easily attainable. But the law took account of the unhappy wanderer far from home at the dread hour, and certain establishments were licensed to cater to genuine travellers—bona fide travellers—for extended periods after closing time. Such houses were known as bona fide houses, and were highly regarded by the drinking fraternity, who were readily transformed into bona fide travellers, since the stipulation of the law, drawn up in days of pedestrian or horse-borne transportation, was that a bona fide traveller was anyone who at closing time had put a distance of at least five miles between himself and the spot where he had slept the previous night. In the sizeable city of Dublin, well furnished with public and private transportation, it became no trick at all for respectable citizens to drink at night in suburban pubs five miles on more from the beds in which they had spent the previous night and would also spend the ensuing night, when the charms of bonafide drinking palled”.
Brendan O Hehir & John M. Dillon, “A Classical Lexicon for Finnegan’s Wake”
The bona fide status of Lamb Doyle’s explained why the barman had been happy to hand over a receipt for which I had not asked, a receipt which showed the time at which the beer had been after midnight.
Now, even in good faith, there is no pint to be bought anywhere.