POSTED BY: Lorna Ryan McKeon

A pub with no beer?

22nd Jan, 2019
Barack holding a pint of guinness

A pub with no beer?

What is the world coming to? Ireland’s first permanent alcohol-free bar, The Virgin Mary, is due to open from mid-February. Unheard of until now, what would my grandad, Mathew Ryan, think of it? I’d have a fair guess – he’s turning in the grave! A sin. After all, this was the man who upon retirement made his life long dream come true and bought a bar, The Plunge Inn. This was Ireland in the 70’s when no one thought twice about having a few scoops before spinning on home. How times have changed. Here I am on a dry January, considering a dry February and I’m not alone.

1987 Mum and my little brother outside my grandparents pub, The Plunge Inn.

‘Dry’ January was chosen as the perfect time for Guinness to introduce their 92-calorie, first non-alcoholic craft lager… Pure Brew. To take the dry out of January last weekend a pop-up ‘Bar For When You’re Off The Beers’ appeared smack bang in the middle of Dublin city. Along with the shop Pure Brew hosted a 3-day event… with a chill out zone with cinema screen, a House DJ nightly and complimentary beer snacks served up with ice-cold Pure Brew lager and a range of small batch experimental non-alcoholic beers on tap.


Apparently, alcohol consumption levels in Ireland have fallen by 25 per cent since 2005, according to figures compiled by the Alcohol Beverage Foundation of Ireland. The trend is particularly noticeable among young people, where drinking levels have plummeted in recent years. While Guinness and many more are developing sophisticated non-alcoholic alternatives in response to the trend. Business partners and drinks experts Oisín Davis and Vaughan Yates realised that there wasn’t a space for non-drinkers in which to socialise without being exposed to alcohol. Hence the ‘pub with no beer’.

Oisín Davis (left) and Vaughan Yates, who are opening Ireland’s first permanent no-alcohol bar, with Anna Walsh, the bar manager.


The Virgin Mary bar will open its doors on Capel Street in Dublin next month. On offer, you’ll find non-alcoholic beers and wines, virgin cocktails (hence the name of the bar) and alcohol-free spirits like Silk Tree and Ceder’s. There may be no alcohol in the drinks, but in every other respect, The Virgin Mary will resemble a proper pub. “Not only is it going to have all the trappings of a bar, it’s even going to have a snug,” Davis says. “We want it to have everything you’d expect from a bar – a premises that looks, sounds and tastes like a bar, but without the booze. We want customers to feel that they are not missing out.”

As more people are choosing healthier lifestyles and to moderate their alcohol consumption I think it’s great to have the option. Here’s to the new venture, here’s to choice and here’s to you Grandad!

Lorna Ryan McKeon, Senior Brand Designer

Lorna brings a flair for intellectual instinctual design with her! A remarkable sense of colour and intuitive eye for balance and space make her a natural designer, and her exquisite concepts serve to bolster and enrich the brands she works with. Many of our clients at Neworld, including Adare Manor, Clontarf Castle and Castleknock Hotel, have benefited from her attention and genuine love of what she does.