September 26, 2008 / 5:57 AM / 9 years ago

Aural wells keep Irish, Aussie pub patrons in tune

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Pub patrons in Sydney and Ireland are making friends and finding loved ones by shouting down wells set up by an Australian artist at opposite ends of the earth.

Irish and Australian beer drinkers have been tuned in since artist Allan Giddy set up his "sonic well" installation which transmits live sounds from the pub at Sydney's Mercantile Hotel and Ryan's Bar in Cobh, a coastal town in southwestern Ireland.

"There have been people singing songs into it, telling stories, there's even been an attempt at sex, God knows how that works," Giddy told Reuters.

The installation involves two traditional stone wells set up outside each bar. Waterproof speakers and microphones are fitted inside the wells and the sounds are broadcast via Internet technology and a voice-over-Web program. Computers inside the pubs operate it all.

Given their location Giddy said everything was designed to be able to take beer spills and cigarette butts.

"I chose the two closest watering holes to where the majority of Irish immigrants who left home and arrived in Australia are located," said Giddy.

"It's kind of like a pair of baked beans tins and a piece of string, if you are standing at one you can hear the sounds coming from the other and visa versa," he added.

Giddy said he was inspired by the fact that historically, water sources like wells or billabongs were pivotal meeting points for communities around the world.

While there was some skepticism in Cobh, with locals calling it a hoax, Giddy said the bar patrons finally embraced it.

And in Sydney, the installation has also proved a popular, albeit very loud, attraction.

"It can get a bit noisy early in the morning here as it's late at night in Ireland, makes it hard for the offices across the street having meetings, but what can you do," said a barman at the Mercantile Hotel.

Both wells were constructed in early September and will be in operation until October 8.

Editing by Miral Fahmy

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