St Patrick’s Day, the day when people of all nationalities flock to Ireland to celebrate the man himself and of course to drink with the Irish. Though it was for many I’m sure, a great day filled with great memories, it was unfortunately for others a day where some could not tell that one drink from the one that was one too many. St Patrick was not drinking a pint of beer when he banished those pesky snakes from Ireland, so why is it that many people drink like alcohol is going out of fashion on March 17th?
We Irish are known globally for our alcohol. We export fabulous ales such as Guinness and Whiskey, and we are renowned for that. Unfortunately we are infamously known, worldwide, as the “drunken Irish”. When one thinks of an Irish person, they think of a rambling, drunk, happy individual. This is all well and good, but is it a reputation we should be proud of? Action Alcohol Ireland devotes a whole section of their website to the question – Do we drink too much? From reading the facts I found out that Ireland is one of 26 countries in the EU that has the highest consumption rates and that Irish drink 20% more than your average European.
So we quite clearly drink a lot, but why? AAI pointed out that the cost of alcohol has dramatically reduced in the past ten years. It is now more affordable than ever. I’m sure it hasn’t gone unnoticed on many a student night out how you can walk into an off license and pick up a can for as cheap as 1.25 euro. As well as alcohol being quite cheap it is also widely available. This too has increased in the past decade. Many more premises are licensed to sell drink these days. We’re spoiled for choice! If the off-license is lacking in offers then we can merely go down the road to our closest Spar, Centra, Tesco, Super Value – you name it, they sell it. So with affordability and availability combined it’s no wonder we indulge, and over-indulge.
Studies also show that half of Irish people who drink are socially inept without it. It’d be a rare site to see, a sober Irish person in the pub. It is proven that Irish people also use alcohol as a means of escapism, this being the prime reason as we are up to our ears in recession. We Irish like to drink our pains away. Peer pressure plays a massive factor in the way we drink also and the amounts we consume. In college, especially, peer pressure can be found both consciously and sub-consciously. No one wants to say no and many can’t resist the urge of another night out. Though peer pressure is everywhere it is quite prevalent within our small country.
An interesting fact is also that every single celebration, public holiday, social and some religious occasions in Ireland are centred on the pub. This reiterates my point about St. Patrick’s Day I made earlier, a day that had nothing to do with alcohol, is fuelled by alcohol. The same goes for Hallowe’en, Christmas etc. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but it is an interesting theory. So it is proven that we Irish do drink too much, is this a bad thing?
Do you agree that Irish people drink too much?
Image: Wikimedia Commons-Notwist