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Whenever someone mentions the word Ireland, the first things to come to mind are the color green, St.Patrick’s Day and of course drinking.  When I told someone I had my first drink in Ireland, they gave me an “of course you did” kind of look and laughed heartily. They also added wittily, isn’t the drink age like 12 over there? Just for the record the drinking and purchasing age in Ireland is 18 years old, which is two years older than Germany. So where does the assumption come from that Ireland and drinking are one in the same? These are my thoughts about this idea, its not so much the age that affects the Irish love for alcohol, it’s the culture. Also Ireland is one of the finest producers of alcohol with some famous drinks such as Irish Coffee, Jameson Whiskey, Irish Cider and propably the most noteworthy Guinness Stout.

 

Picture courtesy of "The Temple Bar"

In Ireland a beer isn’t just a beer but there’s a whole pub culture behind imbibing. Pub is short for public house which occording to the Compact  Oxford English Dictionary means ‘an establishment for the sale and consumption of beer and other drinks.’ Which is just a fancy term for a comfy place where people like to drink and catch up with friends. Drinking is so interwined in Ireland’s culture that the pubs are open all day long. You can see a good amout of Irish in any given pub during lunch having a pint. Now this is what I like about Irish culture, I feel an openness to alcohol is important. So if young people are exposed to alcohol more regularly , it prevents them from overdoing it when they become of age. However there is a dark side to this openness to alcohol consumption.

When my mother and I were in Ireland, she discussed her overall dislike WITH Ireland’s drinking habits. Every street had mass amounts of broken beer bottles, and pubs and hostels were filled with those old guys that have been drinking the whole day long. The ones that get a little too friendly  and a bit handsy. Another characteristic of Ireland is their utter relaxed attitude about ( it seems to be) everything.  For example if you have any ailment from a back ache to a train being late the typical Irish response is to just have a Guinness. Now all of this may seem like great fun to our younger generation or for those travellers looking for a good time. However it tends to become a problem in Ireland.  According to the article “Ireland’s Alcholic Curse” there are many social problems in Ireland because of alcohol. This article talks about Irish openness to drunkeness instead of just drinking meaning that it is more socially acceptable to drink large amounts of alcohol. However most Irish people , going along with their usual attitude, just shrug it off and say just have another Guinness. The article also mentions these shocking facts, “We now top the European Union league in alcohol expenditure per person and this development has been reflected in weekend binge drinking, addicted youngsters, drunk-driving, late-night street violence and overcrowded accident and emergency hospital wards”. This doesn’t seem like the Ireland I love to visit and I am starting to wonder if MADD are right. We will have to survey more countries to get to the bottom of this.

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2 Comments

  1. I have always been told that I get my high tolerance for alcohol from my Irish heritage. Everyone in my family can drink a great deal without becoming too intoxicated. I wonder if this has anything to do with the drinking habits developed by my early ancestors. This could be totally ignorant of me but I don’t know how the genetic make-up of a person effects their alcohol tolerance.

    • That is a good point. I have a friend who has Danish roots and she also has a very high tolerance for alcohol. While I can only have two drinks and I am tipsy, and both my parents don’t drink because I have heard that it has a big affect on them as well. So I cannot say this idea has been proven but I do believe ancestry does play a role in a person’s tolerance to alcohol


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