Not to be confused with an Irish Drinking Song.
This is a weird question for me to ask, since I live with an Irishman and could simply ask him. Which I did. And his answer just didn’t satisfy me.
My question, to be specific, is “what’s with the Irish and alcohol?” Why do we have the stereotype that the Irish drink more and get drunk more often than other cultures? First of all, is it even true? There are other European countries in which alcohol is consumed at a younger age and more frequently than American’s typically do. So why have the Irish been singled out for kicking in this area?
I guess I can break my question down into various speculation my husband and I came up with.
The Irish really don’t drink more than numerous other cultures, but for some reason have earned that reputation undeservedly. I’d love to figure out why if that’s the case. There are tons of undeserved stereotypes, maybe this is just one of them.
The Irish for some reason treat alcohol differently than other “drinking culture.” That is, even though the German’s, French, Italians, etc. drink frequently, the Irish tend to use it to excess in more cases or to use it for escape rather than a glass or two with a meal.
Irish life has historically been so difficult as to make #2 above more likely. My husband grew up and lived in Belfast where he had a pretty rough life in a war zone. If he was an American he’d be in therapy. Instead, he drinks 4 pints of Guinness a day.
Husband’s answer to this question is particularly unsatisfying to me. He says that ages ago, during an indeterminate time in history the Irish were mainly farmers, living in places so far apart that they had little social contact with others. After mass on Sunday they would all retire to the public house for a much needed social outlet. This, he explains, is why drinking is so much a part of Irish culture and also why Sunday is such a big drinking day for the Irish. The latter certainly seems to be true of the “just off the boat” Irish in this country. At least if judging by the immigrant population of the greater Boston area. I assume there were other countries that had just as many farmers. Heck, my family farms and has for 150 years and there are ZERO drinkers in my family.
Genetics. I typically don’t buy this as a good answer since there’s never a satisfying way to tell if you drink too much because your dad passed it to you via genes or if you just learned it from his behavior.
My husband drinks a LOT by American standards. He’s been known to say things like, “I only had four or five pints a day every day this week…that’s nothing.” Note: said husband doesn’t stumble home, miss work, hit his wife (ahem), get into fights, or otherwise cause drunken mayhem. He just drinks rather heavily by our standards and tends to use bars/pubs as a social outlet after work every day. That is, I don’t consider his drinking a problem but sometimes worry about what he’s doing to his liver. You’d think I could get a good answer out of him, but he only has the same speculations as I do.
Any clues, dopers?