Irish people abroad

My wife brought this issue up that generalizes about Irish people and my attitude is always “anecdotes aren’t data,” but I was curious enough about this issue to seek some input from this board.

My wife is an artist and she often goes to Europe for a few weeks at a time to attend art workshops. These workshops are very intense, run by very skilled artists, they are expensive, and they are working on very limited time to acquire high-level skills that require a lot of hard work and concentration.

The students come from all over—Australia, Japan, Canada, the United States, Pakistan, the Middle East, and all over Europe.

The classes run all day, and in the evenings, the students get together for a bit to socialize, have dinner and a few drinks, and also to take the opportunity to see museums, ateliers, historical sites, etc., nearby, and then get to bed with plenty of time for sleep to begin working hard again early the next morning.

All except the Irish students, at least the ones that my wife has met during these programs. The Irish will waste no time in finding the nearest bar or pub run by an Irish expatriate or specifically catering to Irish people abroad. They will then spend every night at that same bar drinking late into the night.

Invariably, the Irish students will show up in the mornings sleep deprived or hung over, interfering with their ability to fully take advantage of the master lessons at the workshop.

So my question is in your experience, does this fit any kind of a pattern of Irish abroad, or a significant subset of Irish abroad? Can we say anything about why or why not this might be the case?

And they all ate potatoes for dinner as well, right?

Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. But since they were all having dinner together at an Irish pub every night amongst themselves, that data point wasn’t available.

Some other data points:

  1. The Irish weren’t the only nationality or ethnic group represented with a reputation for heavy drinking and late-night revelry.

  2. This observation was made by my wife more than once with more than one group of students.

  3. My wife didn’t have any preconceived notion about the Irish specifically being habitual drinkers, as opposed to other nationalities represented, like English, Australian, etc.

I’ve worked closely with many groups of Irish people over the last two decades and, in general, they have been very keen on pubs and drinking.

Like all stereotypes it doesn’t hold in all cases and it would be obnoxious to make assumptions based on it but there is certainly more than a little truth in it.

To me the drinking stereotype isn’t the most interesting part. It’s that they seemed to want to spend every evening with other Irish people in an Irish themed location. Unlike all the others, they didn’t seem to be interested in the place they were staying in.

My company was recently bought out by a very large Irish corporation, and our division president had to go to Dublin for a couple of weeks of meetings. He was utterly astounded at how much they drank, and how many of them fit the stereotype described in the OP, repairing as soon as they could to pubs to commence getting shitfaced. If the visitors wanted to go, great, but if not, they were going anyway.

You wonder if they’re just trying to prove something.

Not much difference then with the drinking habits of the English, Scots, Welsh, Australians, New Zealanders…

The Irish have the advantage that the formula of the Irish pub, has been exported far and wide. So there is always a watering hole nearby, even if it is just a bit fake.

Yeah but the different thing is the “Irish only” 'tude, not the drinking thing or even the “very little interest on the location” thing.

I’ve had no Irish coworkers. I’ve had coworkers from Asturias who did the same thing, they were like a herd with their own small white van.

I’ve had coworkers who had zero interest in the locations we worked at (one spent two years in Seville, never so much as went for a walk); others became interested once you pointed things out (“dude, really, our hotel in Dunkerke is right next to the naval museum, just go down to the wharf and look at the interesting boats!..” “oh hey, I didn’t know there were firefighter boats!”). But even in those situations in which certain groups tended to separate, those groups usually were multinational (“the Spanish table” in my German university and back in the dark ages included Spaniards, Italians, Brazilians and eventually even a Bavarian couple that the other Germans wouldn’t speak to on account of being Catholic).

I agree that there’s some truth in it. A lot of Irish people strongly associate alcohol with enjoyment, and especially when abroad would tend to spend each night in the pub. I can easily imagine that a group of Irish people going away for a specific activity (whether art workshops, walking the Camino, hillwalking, skiing, lying on the beach or whatever) would plan to spend their days doing the activity and their evenings drinking (and chatting, and maybe singing…)

As for the thing about spending their time in Irish pubs specifically and not mingling, that’s a real shame and you can’t help feeling they are missing out. But I guess some Irish people are just more comfortable in a familiar setting.

For myself, I feel a sense of shame at reading about your wife’s experience and I hope you (and she) know that it’s #notallIrish.

I knew quite a few Irish in Bangkok. Without a single exception, they drank like fish.

Worth emphasising that I never got the feeling that they were ever excluding anyone and “not mingling” in that way. On the contrary. The groups I’ve worked with were always very, very friendly and hugely eager for anyone and everyone to come along with them with the understanding that it would be for a serious drink.

They’re not going to find the craic in non-Irish pubs, and in my experience, Irish ex-Pats are largely craic addicts.

I mean…there is a reason that one can “waste no time in finding an Irish pub” anywhere in the world.

Bangkok is chock-full of them, some quite good such as the Dubliner. It had a great Sunday brunch. Owned and operated by real Irish, they took a bit of a stumble when it was discovered they were involved in the international drug trade. But it was resurrected not far away by some other Irish but had to shut down again after running into money problems (no doubt due to no longer running drugs internationally).

English pubs are legion there also.

We’re in Granada, Spain right now. Found two Irish bars without looking. Jesus.

Have I been looking for an English bar? Of course not.

I just don’t get it.


They sound like typical Americans abroad. :slight_smile:

There’s absolutely an element of truth to the drinking stereotype, which carries over to the Irish diaspora. Definitely a theme in my family in past generations, multi-generation Americans but there was virtually no marrying of non-Irish from 1867 when the last of my ancestors came, until over 100 yrs later (though in my generation it went to zero marrying of other Irish). So there was clannishness, and drinking. :slight_smile:

The clannishness part though doesn’t particularly fit people actually from Ireland that I’ve known, which is pretty many, YMMV I guess. I’d say they are no more resistant to ‘doing as the Romans’ than most nationalities or maybe less so because, like other English speakers, their (de facto in Ireland’s case) native language is also the de facto international language.

With Americans IME there seem as many hell bent on proving they are not ‘ugly Americans’ abroad as there are actual ugly Americans. Probably more. And that put down is also a class thing, one of those ways you’re still allowed to bash people from lower social classes. IME degree of rapid adaptation (or wanting to adapt) to foreign places is strongly correlated to social class back home in most nationalities.

There’s an Irish pub right here in my neighborhood, one of at least two in Waikiki.

Not intended to be a hijack…

In the 1970s, I found myself doing a research stint in the US with several other people, including two Irish post-grads. They both (independently) did exactly the same thing: they bought huge, second-hand land yachts and ate every meal at fast food places. One or the other would pick me up in his ginormous Olds Delta 88 and we would have to stop by a hamburger joint on the way to wherever. They also both threw all the wrappings in their back seats. (I’m not kidding…you would need a snow shovel to clean out the car.)

They both told me that huge gas-guzzlers and burger joints were unknown in Ireland (at the time) and that they just couldn’t resist. Even back then, I found it hard to imagine that they didn’t have burger joints, but who am I to argue with an Irishman?

BTW, they did NOT drink and drive, which DID surprise me.

Simple enough, why would you need a burger joint when nearly everywhere had a corner pub or two and tavern food? Actually kind of awesome.