Missing nights out with friends at your local since the COVID lockdown? Bored with Zoom calls? Ireland's first virtual pub in now open.

ThePub.ie is the world’s first virtual bar, offering what its creators call “an authentic pub experience.”

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The free online platform allows registered users to chat through "a purpose-built media conference app" on the site, RTÉ reports. Online pub patrons have the choice of interacting with friends at a private table or mingling with new people on the “public pub floor” area. Unlike Zoom, which has a time limit if you don’t have a premium subscription, here you can chat with other users for hours without being interrupted.

Hospitality professionals Sebastien Conway, Tim Cole, and Doug Leddin developed the site in only five weeks after they were forced to close their Ohana Bar on Dublin’s Harcourt Street and stop construction on Ava, off Grafton Street in Dublin, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The creators plan to add additional features to ThePub.ie in coming weeks, including themed nights, table quizzes, and exclusive charity gigs from both Irish and international acts. The group is also working on a way to allow pub patrons to have food and drink orders delivered to their homes while being logged in.

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Co-founder of ThePub.ie, Sebastien Conway said: “Pubs play a key role in bringing communities together and as hospitality professionals we wanted to create something that allowed customers to experience the entertainment and craic that comes from a night in an Irish pub. Social distancing doesn’t have to mean anti-social and we hope to reconnect pals and create new friendships through the new site.

“We’ve built the site from scratch in a number of weeks and we’re really looking forward to welcoming our new patrons this weekend. We have huge ambitions for ThePub.ie as a new fun online social hub and we expect to have numerous interactive features added before the end of the month. Watch this space.”

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