An Irishman Explains His Country's Reputation for Enjoying Alcohol So Much

Why do Irish people have a reputation for enjoying alcohol?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

Answer by Domhnall O’Huigin

I am afraid you are going to be disappointed…

We have a reputation for enjoying alcohol because we enjoy alcohol.

To expand, until very recently (relatively speaking, say the last 20 years) Ireland never had a cafĂ© culture to speak of — at least not in the American or European-mainland sense.

This is partially because our climate doesn’t lend itself to sitting outside most of the time as in the Euro-model, partly because historically, when not on the hooch, we have been a nation of tea-drinkers. Here we are, third in the world [1]. We have always had “tea-rooms”, at least as long as the English have had them, but these do not occupy the same social “space” as pubs or Public Houses. You would go to a tea-room, say, to celebrate a child’s exam results or some similar red-letter day — in short, they would have been seen as slightly “fancy'”.

So our gathering place, our centre of the village, town or hamlet, on a day to day basis (the way the Spanish for example would meet for a coffee) was the pub. Where they sell alcohol. Which we drink.

So the perception that Irish people are ‘always’ in the pub is, to my mind, actually true(ish), although the follow-on assumption that we are all there to get blind drunk every time we set foot in the place, isn’t.

Again until quite recently, most pubs would have been at least as nice as one’s front room with the added advantages that you didn’t have to pay to heat it, your friends would be there, and it was more likely to have a television than you were.

When we emigrated to other countries, we set up and frequented pubs there, too. Perpetuating the perception that we spent all of our time in three places: home, work, or the pub. Where we enjoyed alcohol.

Then of course is the way we drink. We have been binge drinking way before it was the current fashion it is now. There is simply no point in denying it — it is true. When your meeting place is the pub, the company and music is good, you have money in your pocket and no work the next day — why not?

You’ll be a long time dead as the saying goes. Why not enjoy yourself while you are around?

Ironically there used to be quite a few other countries that drank more than us per capita but various sociological factors have meant that the UK and Ireland consistently top the charts these days, except for various looper outliers like Transnistria and Estonia etc.

That is pretty much it. I did have a brief look at genetic factors but for everyone who says there is an alcoholism gene [2] there is another voice to cast doubt on it [3] and I am utterly unqualified to discern between the two. And if there is one, who says the Irish have it? Although I do note the study was published on my birthday, make of that what you will.

So to come full circle; we are perceived to enjoy alcohol a lot because we do, although in our defense we don’t have a tradition of having beer for breakfast (Germany), wine with every packet of crisps, never mind a meal (France) or chewing amphetamine leaves all day (Somalia, Yemen) so you know, is it really that bad?

[1] List of countries by tea consumption per capita
[2] Researchers Identify Alcoholism Gene
[3] Second Thoughts About a Gene for Alcoholism

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Source: Huff Post

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