The Irish Don’t Drink — Much


Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, the one day a year when everybody wants to be Irish!  Which is interesting — given that Irish history is a litany of famine, conquest, rebellion, exploitation, betrayal, some more famine, mass emigration, civil war, bombings, assassination, another famine, whiskey, guns, God, and a particularly vigorous branch of the Catholic Church.  (But that’s a story for another time.)  Personally, I think most people celebrate St. Paddy’s Day because they’ve have been sucked in by the myth that the Irish drink a lot, and they just want to get in on some of the action.  I have no idea where the world got the impression that Ireland is basically 5 million alcoholics, clinging to a rock in the north Atlantic — I’m looking at you, Hollywood — but it just isn’t true.  And today’s as good a day as any to shoot that fairy tale in the head and bury it in the back garden.

Disclaimer: I’ve been known to throw back an adult beverage or two in my time, so I cast no aspirations on any country, region, ethnic or religious group — and if they’re eagerly offended, it’s their own damn fault!

No, the Irish are not the biggest drinkers in the world.  (They aren’t even in the top ten.)  According to no less an authority that the British media outlet The Telegraph, the biggest boozers on Earth are the good citizens of Belarus.  I’ve never been to Belarus, but I’ve seen bits of it on TV and quite frankly — I’d drink, too.  After that, the top ten have all the usual suspects — Lithuania (#3), Russia (#4), Romania (#5), Ukraine (#6) — and a couple of surprises, Moldova (#2) and Andorra (#7.)  I have no idea where Moldova is, but I assume it’s a scrubby little country east of the Balkans, and Andorra is basically a handful of mountains stuck between France and Spain.  Quite frankly, if I was sitting on a mountain, looking at the politics of those two, I’d be tempted to pull a cork or three — and that’s exactly what goes on in that part of the Pyrenees.  It turns out, that, per capita, the folks in Andorra drink more wine than anyone else on the planet.  However, they’re not that far ahead of #2, Vatican City, which, coincidently, also has more priests per square centimetre than anywhere else in the world — which probably makes “morning after” confession a piece of cake.  The other weird one in the top ten list of wine drinkers is the Falkland Islands — although it’s not surprising.  After all, what do you do in the Falklands?  Watch the wind blow and hope to hell it isn’t full of Argentineans — again?

Actually, the only place Ireland even figures into the top ten of drinking anything is beer.  However, they’re only #7 — substantially behind the Czech Republic (#1) and another couple of rowdies, the Seychelles (#2) and Namibia (#5.) The Seychelles are about 100 strips of sand, half- submerged in the Indian Ocean, so I imagine there are a ton of drunken tourists upping their numbers — but Namibia?  Good, bad or indifferent, Namibia normally never comes up on the panel.  About the only thing I can say, with any confidence, about Namibia is they drink beer — a lot more than the Irish.

So tomorrow, if you feel the need, have a Green Beer or a Guinness or whatever your pleasure, but if you want to sop hops with the big boys, wait a couple of days until March 21st.  That’s Namibia’s Independence Day, and the truth is those folks know how to drink!

St. Patrick’s Day 2016

Oscar_WildeI love St. Patrick’s Day, and, in two more sleeps, we’re going to be practically bathing in everything Irish.  However, before I write another word I have to tell you I’ve got so much Irish in my gene pool that the deep end is bright green.  Half my family came from the Land of Blarney, so on St. Paddy’s Day, I’ve got a ton more right to have a howl and a dance than most people singing “Whiskey in the Jar” and sucking on the Bushmills.  And, truth be told, I’ve done my share of singing and sucking over the years.  With that in mind, here is some interesting stuff about Ireland.

The reason they call it “The Emerald Isle” is it rains in Ireland — a lot.  In any given 24 hour period — summer or winter — it will rain for 12 of them.  However, it’s a little known fact that the rainstorms in Ireland last exactly the amount of time it takes to drink a Guinness (2 Carlsbergs.)  So as the Irish go about their business, every day when it starts to rain, they nip into a pub, order a pint and wait it out.  This is why the Irish have a reputation for drinking — they’re smart enough to come in out of the rain.

James Joyce is a wonderful writer — a Nobel Prize winner.  He wrote The Dubliners, The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses — all worthy efforts.  However, in the English-speaking world James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake is the international symbol for Bullshit!  If you meet someone who has read/is reading/is thinking about reading or even owns a copy of Finnegan’s Wake, stop — don’t make eye contact, and back away slowly.  You have encountered A Pompous Ass.  The fact is Finnegan’s Wake is unreadable — anybody who tells you any different is an off-the-charts intellectual git.  And I can’t prove it, but I think the only reason Joyce wrote Finnegan’s Wake is so the world would have an easy way to recognize this brand of Academic Nincompoopery.

There are no female leprechauns.  This is yet another example of the Irish constantly getting screwed.  Simple biology aside, what other culture has an all-male mythology?  Hell, even the Smurfs got a girl — eventually.

“The Luck Of The Irish” is a total misnomer.  Think about it!  The history of Ireland is a litany of war, conquest, rebellion, oppression, famine, another rebellion — oh yeah, a little more famine — oppression again, one more rebellion, even more oppression, civil war, soul-eating poverty, a couple of economic tsunamis and yet another civil war.  Plus, on the days the Irish weren’t shooting at each other or slowly starving to death, they were leaving Ireland in a Diaspora of biblical proportion.  LUCK?  I don’t think so!  But the weird thing is even after a millennia of catastrophe and calamity, the Irish are still the friendliest people on this planet.  They’re worse than Texans!  Show up in Ireland with a smile on your face and you’ll think you landed in Celtic Disneyland.  The locals simply can’t do enough for you.

And that’s Ireland’s gift to the world.  If they can still live, love, laugh and be happy after all the crap they’ve been through, there’s hope for the rest of us.  So, on March 17th, go out and have a grand time.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.