Afghanistan’s First Irish Pub Opens

You just can’t get away from ’em. Irish bars, I mean.

‘The first public house in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban has opened – and it’s Irish. The Irish Club opened on a secluded side street in the centre of Kabul last month – on St Patrick’s Day.’ …

‘There are Afghan staff, of course, but they have all been given Irish names – Kevin, Jimmy, Michael, George – ‘to protect them from possible retaliation’ …

Fazel Ahmed Manawi, the deputy supreme court justice, said any Muslims found drinking at the Irish Club will be punished. ‘We have got a lot of foreigners living in our country and unfortunately, this is a necessary thing for them,’ he said.’ (Full story)

Date: Fri, 18 Apr 2003 09:36:01 +0100
From: Joe McNally (spam-protected)
To: Yahoogroups Forteana (spam-protected)
Subject: Afghanistan – no end to the horror in sight

http://www.irishnews.com/access/daily/current.asp?SID=431306

Out with the Taliban, in with the craic

THE first public house in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban has opened – and it’s Irish.

In Taliban times, a fully stocked Irish pub serving whiskey and cold beer in the heart of the ultra-Islamic country’s capital would have been unimaginable.

It still is for many Afghans, but the Kabul night-spot has been a life-saver for many expatriates working in the city.

The Irish Club opened on a secluded side street in the centre of Kabul last month – on St Patrick’s Day.

There is no sign, and not even a number on the door, but in a country where terrorists are still a real threat, that is exactly the way the Irish owner Sean Martin McQuade wants it.

“We wanted to keep a low profile, so we didn’t advertise whatsoever,” he said.

“But people know where to find us. News travels fast by word of mouth.”

In a mock Tudor-style house behind the blank outer wall, immaculate Afghan waiters in black trousers, white shirts and black bow ties serve up beer for £1.25 and cocktails for £1.90.

Customers – mostly aid workers, diplomats and journalists – crowd around a wooden bar topped off with green marble imported from Ireland.

Afghan carpets are strewn about the floor. Posters for Guinness are tacked all over the walls. Small lanterns – handy during the sporadic power cuts – are placed on every table.

“We are the first people to stick our necks out and say this can be a cosmopolitan city,” Mr McQuade, who has worked as an engineer in Afghanistan for the last 11 years, said.

He insisted that he had gone out of his way not to offend anyone and had sought the approval of a neighbourhood mullah to open the bar. In return, he promised to help rebuild the pot-holed road in front of the club and to help relocate an adjacent school to a bigger, better site.

The bar is officially licensed by the state to sell alcohol – but only to foreigners. An Afghan bouncer keeps locals out, checking IDs and making sure patrons sign in.

There are Afghan staff, of course, but they have all been given Irish names – Kevin, Jimmy, Michael, George – “to protect them from possible retaliation”.

The Taliban may no longer be in power, but Muslim conservatives continue to hold sway in Afghanistan.

Fazel Ahmed Manawi, the deputy supreme court justice, said any Muslims found drinking at the Irish Club will be punished.

“We have got a lot of foreigners living in our country and unfortunately, this is a necessary thing for them,” he said.

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One Comment

  1. Tom Mason
    Posted June 13, 2006 at 02:00 | Permalink

    For Christ sakes, you had me looking back through this to see what Justin’s first name was!

    If this is for real – good on ya!

    If this is a yarn, I enjoyed it!

    Tom