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The pub is now to Ireland what the bistro has long been to France, that is a place of reliable cooking to be found across the country. Just as the French bistro is likely to have a menu of frisée and lardon salad, some steak frites and an apple tart, so the Irish pub will offer a terrine or pate, a burger and something involving beetroot and goat's cheese to start. There will be a fish dish, probably pork belly and rib eye for mains, and a chocolate fondant, crème brûlée, and lemon tart to finish. This is all excellent. They are sturdy, trustworthy dishes, the Ronseal of restaurant food. Either they are executed well or they are not great. Either way pub food culture will always be marked by its ordinary, not its exceptional.
On the night of August 18, 1882, five members of one family, John Joyce, his wife Brighid, his mother Mairéad, his daughter Peigí, and his son Micheál, were murdered in Maamtrasna on the Galway/Mayo border. The motive for this multiple murder is unclear, but John was suspected of sheep stealing, his mother of being an informer, and his daughter of cavorting with the RIC who would have been the natural enemy of the locals. Two members of the family survived the horrific attack; a nine-year-old boy, Patsy, who was badly injured, and his older brother Máirtín who was working for a family in a neighbouring farm on the night.