The Irish pub is one of the most famous, and international, institutions on the globe. Anywhere I've travelled in recent decades there has always been an Irish pub to be found (even if it's only an imitation Irish pub, it honours the original).
Irish pubs have a deserved reputation for ambience, conversation and, usually, a decent pint, and an entire Dublin quarter - Temple Bar - is dedicated to the tourist in search of the experience.
But now any would-be visitor, or anyone just researching knowledge of Irish pubs, will find the most common thread is 'closed'. The Brazen Head: closed. Durty Nelly's, Co Clare: closed. John B Keane's, Listowel: closed. Davy Byrne's of James Joyce memory: closed.
A friend was in Tralee last week with her family. She found there was nowhere to have a drink except in a hotel. We all know the reason for this situation but it is still turning into a sad elegy for the tradition of the Irish pub, once the epicentre of sparkling conversation and easy camaraderie, the first point of visitation for the stranger in town or in the village and the forum for local knowledge and networking intelligence.
Granted, the Irish pub has changed and some have declined in recent years. A lot of folk complained about the prices and the difference between a drink taken at home and one purchased in licensed premises.
But you're not just buying a glass of wine or a dram of whiskey when you visit a pub: you are buying the experience of being there with friends, colleagues, even strangers. It's the buzz of being present as well as the actual act of imbibing.
Granted, too, that the giant TV screen installed in some pubs has somewhat killed off the art of conversation. Even Oscar Wilde couldn't compete with a blaring commentary about the progress of Aston Villa or Real Madrid.
The smoking ban and the drink-driving penalties - all done for understandable health reasons - did yet more damage to the rural pub.
Granted, as well, that some towns in Ireland were over-pubbed, and the temperance associations were justified in their campaigns against the oversupply of public houses. Too many pubs were said to degrade the population and encourage excessive drinking.
In America enthusiastic feminists attacked taverns with axes, claiming they were the ruination of families.
And granted, I expended too much time, money and folly propping up various bars in a wild youth leading to escapades I'd be too embarrassed to remember if alcohol hadn't already helpfully wiped away so many of my memory brain cells.
Yet, I do recall great times too in Dublin's Mulligan's, the Pearl Bar, Doheny & Nesbitt (a lovely snug, and recently, an airy atrium), McDaids, Neary's, the Silver Swan (known as the Mucky Duck), The Horseshoe Bar at The Shelbourne (a great Buck's Fizz), Searsons of Baggot Street and, occasionally, The Flowing Tide in Abbey Street - now permanently gone - where, glamorously, you might get glimpses of theatre people after the show.
Those were the days when a 'holy hour' of closing was observed during the afternoon, but if you were already inside the pub when the door was shut you could sometimes stay. True, women - or should I say 'respectable women' - didn't frequent bars as brazenly as the likes of myself and my cronies.
That was why hotels often had a pleasant bar for visitors, so ladies could feel comfortable partaking of a discreet dry sherry or three gin-and-tonics, whichever their preference. That was the original idea of the snug, too: grannies could take their half-pint unmolested.
But my recollection is that the conversation in the Irish pub often was terrific. To listen to Maeve Binchy banter hilarious stories with Sean Mac Reamoinn, the broadcaster and linguistic expert, in The Pearl Bar was like being at a table with Dorothy Parker and HL Mencken.
Small wonder that at least three of the greatest of Irish plays are set either partly or mainly in a pub: Synge's The Playboy Of The Western World, O'Casey's The Plough And The Stars (many a pub bore the name of The Plough) and Conor McPherson's subtle The Weir. The pub is a natural setting for dialogue, drama and revelation.
At the same time there was another type of pub which some men, in particular, once relished: the pub where they enjoyed "the quiet pint" and where there was no requirement to join in conversation - and there was no background music either. So, there was a choice between the talky pub or the oasis of calm.
Is it now goodbye to the traditional Irish pub? Some have adapted. The genuine gastropub was a welcome innovation. Even serving the somewhat symbolic €9 pizza, which covers the food stipulation, can be an option for some.
But many have no such kitchen facilities and many family businesses could be swept away in this catastrophic tide.
We know that precautions had to be taken to address the coronavirus emergency.
But that does not preclude a nostalgic lament for what was once such a hub of Irish social life and a major source of employment and trade.