In small Irish rural communities the grocer, draper, or even the local blacksmith would often double as the local Pub with both businesses side by side under the same roof. Customers stopping by for supplies would quickly revive their flagging spirits by engaging in conversation with other shoppers over a pint of Guinness. One corner of the shop would be set aside for this purpose, furnished with simple wooden tables or benches arranged around a black potbellied stove that burns non-stop through the winter.
The planked floors were worn smooth near the fire and by the bar. All around were dark, ceiling-to-floor wooden shelves cluttered with every conceivable foodstuff and commodity. The white-aproned “Publican” (master of the house), who was also the shopkeeper would pour pints of Guinness for his customers; most of them having forgotten what it was they had come in for. Oil lamps suspended from wood-paneled ceilings would send shadows flickering across the uneven walls and over tea containers, hardware, boiled sweets, binder twine, and barrels of Guinness and whiskey.