The Irish Down Under

I know them. The Irish Down Under. They work hard and they drink hard too. More often than not there is nothing but fun and merriment. More often than not, nay a drop of harm comes by anyone. The long weeks deserve a long session to unwind and release. What is the point in all work and no play?

I served time in many pubs in Australia…Serving beers, drinking beers and managing the busiest one of them all in Bondi Junction. I saw many of the lads and lassies on the rip from Friday through Sunday. I saw the best and the worst of them. I encouraged responsible drinking and I turfed out many’s the boy and girl who was schuttered, aggressive or had their fill.

I know the Irish Down Under…I have been one for over five years. I know us and there is something that happens to us when we leave home and come so far away. We are released from the prying eyes, the Mammies and the Daddies watching you over your shoulder. You are free to earn money, live with mates and get absolutely baloobas.

I did it all here. I drank in every pub that would serve me. I snorted any drugs and popped any pills I could get my hands on. I spent days on the session and acting the bollix. I loved it. I loved the lush, the mayhem, the party and the 24 hour pubs. I indulged and I enjoyed. Life was mental craic but was a life worth living.

I cut it close. I streaked through many the pub. I jumped off many the bridge. I cut, scraped and cracked my head in scuffles, stumbles and squabbles. I got away with it. I snook through and was able to remain intact, alive and functioning.

I knew my luck was gonna run out. Some day I would slip off a rooftop. I would yap back at the wrong person. I would cut myself open somehow in some unfortunate way. It was all a matter of time. It was a matter for statistics. You do something dangerous when you are drunk for long enough and something bad will happen.

So I gave up the drink. And the drugs. And the rest of it. I gave it all up because I knew that someday I would fall down a stair well or do something that would be irreversible. I knew it would come. I knew it would happen. It was inevitable. There was nothing else that could happen.

And so I read about another Irishman who has passed away after a night on the piss which has ruined him. Padraig Gaffney I salute you sir. You made a mistake and paid the ultimate price for it. Whatever happened that night in that hotel can be very easily put as drunken madness. What has happened since is the tragedy. No life is worth being lost because of drunken mistakes.

I have been following the story of Donal O’Sullivan who disappeared near my old pub in Bondi Junction. I was delighted to see he was found. He is in a critical condition and I wish him and his family peace and health. I don’t know the circumstances that had him end up where he did so I cannot comment.

Both men, their friends and their families are going through incredible stress and mental pain. It is in times like these that you see peoples true colours and I hope that people rally around them and help those who need to be helped.

There are lessons to be learnt.

I have seen it all and done it all. Nothing surprises me anymore. As Irish we think we need to drink and all the rest. We think we have to live up to certain expectations about being on the piss. We think we need to act in certain ways, drink in certain ways and be certain ways.

I say to you this…Just be yourself. Be yourself without the drink for a while. Love your sober self. Love your sober self and enjoy who you are. Fuck the begrudgers and fuck those who ridicule you. Fuck them all.

So many young men and women are putting their lives in danger. If you have that mental gene, that deranged Irish drinking gene then you will know that someday you will put yourself in the line of fire. You will put yourself in circumstances which could lead to bad, sad and upsetting consequences.

It is not a matter of “if” or “maybe”. It will happen. These were two more normal hard working Irish lads who liked a drink. There are thousands more who are simply lucky it was not them.

People may blame Barmen, Drink, Society, the Politicians or the Cops. You can blame whoever you want. But there is only one person who is responsible for any able bodied free human being – and that is themselves. You are the only one responsible for yourself.

You owe it to yourself to look after yourself. If that means looking at your drinking and thinking long and hard about your choices then that is what you need to do. Drinking can ruin lives. Not only through serial alcoholism, but by simple bad decisions made while drunk or tipsy.

You owe it to yourself to look after yourself.

Nobody deserves to lose their life or end up in a critical condition in hospital because of drink. Nobody. We all deserve a happy and prosperous life. We have to see how to make the right decisions to live as well as we can.

So many young Irish lads have died here in Oz since I first came in ’98. Most of the time it has been something that happened when drinking. It may have been a fight or accident or some messing gone wrong, but the Drink has been there through it all.

If you drink hard, then you need to think hard. What kind of life do I want for myself? And do I feel lucky? Because without luck then someday you will end up in situations which can put your life in danger.

Do you feel lucky?



20 thoughts on “The Irish Down Under”

  1. Thank you for writing this, I’m living in Oz and it’s like you’ve read my thoughts, all this was running through my mind last night in bed, the 2 guys Padraig may he rip god love him and Donnie down in Bondi, the thing is I have someone close to me who gets into those type situations when he goes blind with drink, so many times, crazy stories, crazy lucky so far, it’s not that he does it so often it’s just when he needs that release from all the long hard worked hours he does. he’d never hurt a fly sober and is so funny and witty without the drink but when he’s had too much he’s just irritating ya know, you just get sick of always having to be the one to try n get him home, try to sober him up or wonder what has happened to him as you lie in bed waiting for him to come home but he doesn’t. I agree with you about the irish mad drinking gene! I have a touch of it myself every now and again but I suppose I usually know how to figure out eventually how to stagger home that night in some sort of safe manner. Fair play to you for giving it all up, maybe now more avenues will open up in your life, a life fuelled by just being yourself and not a distortion of yourself.

  2. Hi SoberPaddy (aka ….) what a brilliant read, living in ex pat communities in Glasgow, NY and Sydney I’ve been guilty of all of the above and consider myself lucky…. my career path and passions have helped steer me some what… but the countless and senseless accidents and deaths due to alcohol abuse from young Irish travelers is tragic. We leave Ireland, arrive at a new destination and experience pubs and alcohol fueled gatherings… each individual needs to reset their default settings… get rid of the bugs and viruses and install newer software…. try Life 3.0

  3. That’s exactly how I was, and that’s exactly the reason I stoped, just over 3 years now, great artical, every one deserves a drink, but when your a abuseing it, like I was its time to have a long hard think!! And learn to take care of yourself,

  4. I went to Australia in 1999 on WHV. I was 24. I worked hard and saved hard in Sydney to travel around Australia – I made the most of my year and the only place I did not see was Adelaide which I, just this year, went back for 2 weeks to see. I noticed on my year away how the majority if Irish backpackers drank themselves into oblivion on a nightly basis and I thought what a waste in such a beautiful country with so much to see – wasted on those who were just there to get drunk every night and waste the days away. They return home to Ireland and the only memories and souvenirs of Australia are those from the inside of a pub and a beer gut.

    The Irish in Australia are developing a bad reputation as a nation of drinkers and loving the good time. Do we really have to drink ourselves stupid to enjoy ourselves. Not only are we developing a bad reputation but ruining our health and putting our lives in jeopardy. Also ruining tit for those who follow on in later years.

    In a time when a visa to Australia is a privilege and not a right should we not learn to respect the country and ourselves. It’s embarrassing to say the least. The current economic climate is driving many young people to emigrate to get a better life and future for themselves and their current or future family – why would you want to ruin it all by taking the drinking culture with you.

    Leave the drink at home and embrace your new life in a country with so much more to offer than the inside of a pub.

  5. This is a genuine plea from an experienced Irishman who had been there & done that! Not just the Irish who should take heed but every young adult starting out with all the future opportunities ahead. Alcohol will take your life , sometimes slowly over many years and sometimes rapidly without warning. It’s ” the deadly juice” and not fun when your life is wasted. Take Sober Paddys advice,he speaks the truth! Enjoy your young lives but be mindful . Rember; It takes a clear mind… to make it!

  6. Now that I have kids I really do realise that some of the stuff that I did while on the piss was pure madness.
    If my kids go down the same route they are going to end up in hospital, dead or behind bars. I was just lucky.

  7. Hi I enjoyed reading your blog very true iv been here 8 year living the sobriety of life 2 and a halfs years,thanks to people been a bit more open minded here I got the strength and help to sort my self out,im so so so lucky I survived this crazy place. When I look back is it the irish mentality the way we were brought up every one so critical of most stuff ,and come here all of the above you done so did I but 13 stitches on my face and few other near misses. But I got true it

  8. Well written and timely blog. We salute YOU Sober Paddy! It is always heartbreaking to hear of accidents and tragedies involving Irish who are away from home and away from their loved ones. Skype-ing and staying in touch is relatively easy but such sad events are a stark reminder of how far from “home” you really are. Stay safe out there folks and take care.

  9. Sober Paddy – I wish you appeared on TV to warn the Irish especially of the dangers of drinking here in Australia and any other country. I am 100% Irish and have been here in Australia since 2005. I have seen so many Irish off their face on drink and drugs. It is heartbreaking knowing their parents and families think they are here making a new life for themselves but we know they are just wasting one of the best opportunities they have been given. All they think about is themselves and having ” the Craic”. What about their families at home struggling – unemployed with no hope of getting work in the next 5yrs. Not one of them seem to send any money home to help their families. Selfish to the bone most of them. They need a reality check and sadly that will come when the Australian Government decide to reduce the numbers coming here from Ireland. Where will they go then ???? Stop wasting your lives and making the pub owners rich men. Get a life, live it and help others and remember the Mammies and Daddies that looked over your shoulders kept you safe. Prove to them that you can stand on your own and grab the chance that you have been given with both hands and let them be proud of you all.

  10. I’m in perth and the young Irish guys have such a bad reputation. Ive been here just over 4 years and I am working as a cop here. I know why these young fellas do what they do as I’ve seen my own brother act in this way.
    Don’t get me wrong I like a drink as much as any man but people got to realise that we are not in Ireland and that we got to respect the laws of the land.
    Too many times I end up fighting or arresting my country men who are just too drunk and out if it on drugs to know why they are doing. Some times the shame of being arrested is enough for the to see the light and start to cop on. Unfortunately most of the time they go back out again the next night ands get more wasted than the previous night.
    In my work I’m meeting many young Irish girls who are getting caught up in drugs. As a result of this they are getting involved in burgs and stealing. I know some of these from Facebook and their family and friends back home believe they are living the high life ( excuse the pun). If only they knew that their loved one will probably end up either in prison or dead in the next few years.
    As the original post stated once mammy and daddy are out of the picture they don’t care. Too many of the youths coming to oz at the moment are Celtic tiger cubs who don’t understand what it is like to have no money as mam and dad always spoilt them. Now they have good paying Jobs in oz and feel obliged to get as drunk as they can as quick as they can for as long as they can.

    I still enjoy having my few drinks but will not go to an Irish pub if at all avoidable. We need to educate our youth and encourage responsible drinking where possible.
    Too many time I hear I only tried this drug once. I’ve dealt with people who have had psychotic episodes after having 1 joint. A lot of the time it ends up with finding the hanging from a tree or at the bottom of a river.
    Fair play to OP. I hope your mental health has not been affected by your prolonged use of alcohol/drugs. Fair play for kicking the habit and for Coming out the far side. Keep spreading your story. If it makes a difference to one life it is worth it.

  11. Seen it myself , thank god I was soberish and not like the chap from tyrone who ended up with a fractured neck in hospital…scary business, just the tiniest bit of responsibility is all ya need and luck will follow…..

    • I think there’s more to this then young guys away from home letting off steam. This is about self medication and trying to deal with repressed feelings of pain and loss. We Irish are great talkers unless it’s about emotions. It’s somehow viewed as weak to show emotion. Drop the macho shit and start sharing some real feelings without being drunk and let’s see how good life can be. I love a few pints with friends but I never want to be where I’m out of my head again to numb my real feelings.
      Well done Soberpaddy on providing space for this debate and stay brave.

  12. So well said.. Its the cold hard truth nd reality of the repercussions of drink.. Too many have fallen foul of the bloody thing.. Your word summons up exactly how we feel about it.. Well done

  13. Sober Paddy,

    A good read, like yourself i manage Irish pubs abroad Aus, NZ, England, Germany, ‘The mad irish drinking gene’ nice way to put it but trouble is especially oz is we as Irish are stereotyped and the young one going abroad feel like they have a reputation to uphold, Also as was my experience in Australia the tradies are earning a fortune and these young lads don’t know what else to be doing to spend their money so they just prop up a bar. On the positive side a Pub especially an Irish pub a broad is the heart and soul of most expat communities it where lads find work, accommodation and where most of the best travel memories come from but i completely agree, do go mad, go hard but not for too long, health issues aside (i have seen young lads becoming alcoholic at 23 years off age! ) but it catches upto us all, I am one of the lucky ones, I’ve survived travelling for 13 years and believe u me i have put myself in some right situations!! maybe its my time to have a look at myself.

  14. Sober Paddy,
    It seems that everything in your blog relates to me. The Irish stereotype and the fact that we believe no matter how much we drink or take drugs we’ll survive, both ring true. I have personally had some very close calls being absolutely stupid when drunk. As Irish we need to change our thinking and work together to change our culture; it’s not easy when the thinking back home is that if you don’t drink, there’s something wrong with you. When I first arrived in Australia, working as an electrician, it seemed that every Australian guy wanted to go out and drink with me to see if he could drink me under the table. But it’s up to each of us to stand up to it and make the changes for our own health and wellbeing.

    • Very well said Sober Paddy . What a response your getting too ! You are spot on regarding us Irish thinking we are the big drinkers of the world . The amount of money iv wasted over the past thirty five years drinking and pissing it all down the drain prob runs close to one hundred grand . Absolute madness , and some of the scrapes iv got into makes me shiver .Thanks to this website and some great encourageing words from yourself im on the right road to sobriety , one week at a time , and it is really difficult at the weekend , but im getting there thankfully. Thanks again for taking the time to help others . Be good .

  15. Well done SP! Reading your article and the coments rings many’s the true bell in my mind. Money, health, bettering our lives can be so negatively affected by the misuse of booze. I have put my education on hold for a few years because of booze. I can’t say that I didn’t have many good times when boozing but as Alan Langton says about getting the “shivers” when thinking back about some of the scrapes he’s gotten into when boozing is exactly how I feel too. I’m sure many of us feel the same. Finding something else to fill up free time is so important when quitting drinking. Alice Cooper, when talking about his alcoholism said that “boredom is the greatest enemy of the alcoholic”. He took up golf (I hope that he doesn’t wear his makeup when on the course!) to fill up his free time. It’s different for different boozy people but I agree with Mr. Cooper on this point though. After work on a Friday evening is danger time for myself. It’s 9:10 pm on Friday evening now and I would probably be out in the bar right now only for my wages don’t come in until Monday. Amazing how we can convince ourselves within a couple of minutes to break our plans to be sober and rush out the door to fill up on booze. It’s not just the booze though. It’s the whole excitment and fun atmosphere of a bar, well most bars. Meeting people, laughing off worries, discussing things that we wouldn’t dare talk about when sober, dancing and the rest of it are all attractions of not quitting a boozy lifestyle but it comes at a high price. Any ideas about what to do of a Friday evening is most welcome. Again, thanks for making the cool site SP. All the best!

  16. A class book common sense approach and a stigma less ideation that adresses a serious indigenous problem. I will follow this blog and advise all friends to as well.
    Fair play


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