Fast Chat: Bill Barich's "A Pint of Plain"

"A Pint Of Plain" author Bill Barich moved to Dublin after falling for an Irish lass. There he started searching for a sense of community, which morphed into a quest for the quintessential Irish pub—and then for the essence of Ireland itself. He talked to Jesse Ellison about what he found. Excerpts:

What were you first looking for?
I suppose I was looking for Ireland. Dublin's become a reasonably sophisticated capital city … I was looking for the Ireland that celebrates the romance. I was innocent, naive.

Did you find it?
I found a sense of where Ireland is in 2009. I wouldn't say I was so much disappointed as surprised by how quickly some of these changes have happened ... A critical kind of Irishness, which nobody can define exactly but they can all feel and refer to, is going out of the culture.

What happened?
It's a country that got rich very quickly. Of course, the boom is over, but during that boom a lot of people ... didn't think about the damage they were doing, particularly to the greenbelt.

Do the Irish feel a sense of loss?
Absolutely, especially in the country. A lot of the publicans that I met out there were elderly, in their late 70s, early 80s, and you'd walk into pubs and be the only customer. When they die out, the kids don't want it; they can sell it off to a developer, it can become a convenience store. The world's changing.