Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Episode 764: Pub In A Box

Tabs from Tigin Irish Pub in New York's JFK Airport.
Irish Pub Company
Tabs from Tigin Irish Pub in New York's JFK Airport.

Here's what Kazakhstan, Hong Kong, and Ireland have in common: They all have Irish pubs.

And a bunch of them are the product of one man: Mel McNally.

McNally spent his final year in architecture school studying the architecture of Irish pubs. He and his buddies hit up all the famous pubs in Dublin, and brought along their sketchbooks and measuring tape to answer one question: What makes these places work?

A few rules emerged from their study. The architecture of the place should create spaces that encourage people to mingle in different-sized groups. And no matter where you sit in the pub, you should be able to see the bar.

Now, he ships Irish pubs to every corner of the globe, in 40-foot long containers. And inside of those crates are the elements he's found that'll make an Irish pub "authentic:" knick-knacks, vinyl floors, and dark wood panels.

Today on the show, we drink a few beers and ponder the eternal question, is this a great bar or what?

Music: "Acrobatic" and "All The Good Ideas." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.

Subscribe to our show on iTunes or PocketCast.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Robert Smith is a host for NPR's Planet Money where he tells stories about how the global economy is affecting our lives.
Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.