One of the most traditional elements of any old school Irish pub was the shop a the front of house.
When you entered an Irish pub years ago you were almost certainly greeted firstly by the ‘shop’ where you could buy anything from butter to a slice of the localities finest ham, after that you will find your way into the ‘bar’.
When the Irish pub ‘shops’ were in full swing all those those years ago they were open and serving long after the local butcher, baker or grocery store had closed its doors for the evening.
Many years ago a lady never ventured any further than the shop and would never be seen in the bar, where the men would enjoy a drink as their wife was picking up the last bits and pieces for a hearty stew.
You could two people manning the the shop in the James Griffin at any given time as was the popularity and demand for the loose teas and sugar along with the cut of ham that was traditionally wrapped in a brown paper.
In the James Griffin our ‘shop’ is still open for business. When you pop in to us you will notice one very interesting feature that many people have asked about. The first counter you see is much lower than the main bar counter. The reason for this was that the lower counter is in fact not a bar counter but the original shop counter where milk and bread were served since 1904 when the doors were first opened on High Street. It would not have been very practical to have a serving area as high as a bar you would find in most pubs, not when you are picking up groceries that can end up as quite a heavy load to get into your basket.
Whilst we may not sell the best cut of beef any more you still buy a ‘quarter’ of one of a range of sweets in the shop at the James Griffin along with a packet of biscuits, a jar of marmalade, some jelly or a bag of flour.
It is too often that old traditions disappear, never to return. It is for this reason that we keep our shop running. It is important to us as the ‘pub shop’ was a very important part of any Irish town all those years ago.
It is very fitting now that the area in the James Griffin where you will find our shop is one of the busiest ‘snugs’ of its size in the country. It is almost a tribute to the past. To the many people who popped in to pick up their bits and pieces all those years ago.
Call in and enjoy a pint or two in the ‘shop’. You might just leave with a packet of custard creams!