Heineken Celebrates Historic Irish Pubs with Virtual Museums Launch

  • Mike and James McMahon of Mother Macs Limerick. Picture Andres Poveda
Mike and James McMahon of Mother Macs Limerick. Picture Andres Poveda

The Irish pub stands tall among cultural icons, revered locally and globally for their unparalleled social atmospheres.

Recognised as the beating heart of Ireland's social scene, where stories and conversations resound within their walls. Heineken Ireland wants to shine a light on their importance by opening virtual Pub Museums across Ireland.

This innovative campaign from Heineken aims to safeguard historical Irish pubs, advocating for their transformation into museums. Heineken has partnered with three distinguished Irish pubs to pioneer the virtual Pub Museum experience. Patrons can now embark on a digital journey through time, exploring the rich history and stories told within these beloved establishments.

By scanning a QR code on historical artefacts within the pubs, visitors can unlock a trove of historical facts and stories. Beginning with Toners Pub in Dublin on 5th April, followed by the oldest pub in the world; Sean’s Bar in Athlone on 12th April and Mother Macs in Limerick on 19th April.

Heineken is exploring how these pubs can apply for official Museum accreditation via The Heritage Council in a bid to have them formally recognised as museums. This would offer more opportunities and resources for Irish pubs. By supporting pubs in a bid to become an official museum, Heineken aims to preserve pub culture and the future of socialising.

The Pub Museum campaign complements the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland bid for UNESCO to formally recognise traditional pubs as key elements of Ireland's intangible cultural heritage, highlighting the pub's role in social interaction, music, storytelling and as custodians of local traditions and history.

Rachael Crawley, Heineken Ireland commented:

“Pubs in Ireland play a pivotal role in Irish society and culture, and have done for generations. As a partner of pubs across the country, we’ve launched the Pub Museums initiative as a way to highlight the historical importance of Irish pubs, and act as a reminder of the importance of these establishments in the fabric of Irish society.”

Speaking about the initiative, Historian Gerry Farrell commented:

“Few buildings or businesses maintain the same function over the span of centuries. A visit to a historic public house is a connection back to our own past where generations before, people gathered to talk, drink, eat, sing and play, to flirt and romance, to discuss the great events of the day and set the world to right, to cheer sporting triumph or to drown their sorrows. Irish pubs have been the site for rebellion and betrayal, settings for great literature and places of very real drama. It’s important to protect and preserve our historic pubs so that they can continue to be enjoyed for generations to come.”

Speaking at the launch of the campaign Gina O’Kelly, Director, Irish Museums Association added:

“One of the most interesting aspects of collections is the stories they tell. Objects found within commercial environments, such as our heritage bars and shops, often provide fascinating insights into the daily lives of those from our recent past and their environment: they can reveal information around societal norms, trade activities, the socioeconomic landscape and development of an area, as well as local rituals and cultural practices.

Within the Irish Museums Association, we work with many community or volunteer-led organisations who hold collections of this nature and have a deep appreciation of the significance of the objects they hold, particularly within their communities. These serve as tangible reflections of our social history and, through them, we can ground and interconnect our everyday experiences with the layered history of our surroundings, the local communities that inhabit them, and their heritage. Efforts to enhance their preservation, interpretation and display – thereby making them more publicly accessible – acknowledge their importance and are warmly welcomed.”

Mother Macs, Limerick, Digital Pubseum will open on April 19th. Mother Macs Public House, an iconic Limerick landmark, stands on High Street and upper Denmark Street since 1787, though its exact age remains uncertain. Formerly known as O'Malley, the building has served various purposes, including as a pub, whiskey/wine/tea merchants, and a grocery shop.

Guests to the bar will be able to digitally explore many artefacts in the bar; including measuring jugs hanging from timber beams dating back to the 1800s which were used for ordering drinks based on volume, ensuring fair transactions. Guests can scan the three iron columns believed to originate from the nearby Harrison Lee foundry, operational from the early 1800s until 1932, located just 50 yards away.

These columns, carried by local men during the pub's construction, serve as a poignant reminder of the foundry's legacy, immortalised within the walls of the establishment.

Mike McMahon, Owner and Operator at Mother Macs said:

“It has never been more important to get behind Irish pubs. At Mother Macs our dedication to upholding the spirit of the Irish pub is extremely important to me and the team here. We invite our patrons to immerse themselves in the rich history of Mother Macs through the digital museum and discover the remarkable tales that have shaped our beloved pub.”

See More