Throwing out the drunken Irish

The drunken Irish – oh how we love to be the wobbliest and loudest. How we love the idea that one Paddy can pack away more pints than a small community in Belgium. We are so entrenched in the idea that it is our inalienable right to be sozzled, that we sometimes lose sight of why we want to get so drunk. Why is the natural sober state of an Irish person so repugnant that we constantly want to be tipsy, drunk or semi paralytic? It is only in the last 250 years that we have become such vessels for intoxication, but that is next weeks’ blog, and I have someone very special to blame for that one…and it’s not just the beer companies.

In work just Sunday I was presented with two walking, talking, stumbling examples of this. Again, just to clarify for new readers, I run a busy Irish pub in Bondi. One of my bartenders called me around midday and informed me that a patron was extremely drunk and needed to go home. I made my way to the bar and they pointed out the culprit to me – he was sitting with two girls at a high table in the beer garden. I made my way over and picked up a few glasses and started chatting.

“How’s your day going folks?”
The two young girls smiled and said grand. I took a look at the guy and his eyes were bloodshot and rolling. He was slithering around on top of the chair, struggling to keep his hand on his glass.
“Shuckka saw a song bird da other day” he started singing to me
“shuckka serra…ha ha dad a da…Oasis isn’t it…you look like whassisname Liam Gallagher hey..”
The girls laughed and I found it impossible not to join them. He started to sing an incoherent version of “Songbird” by Oasis. He then settled a little and tried to sit down again. He spoke with a strong Derry accent and started to tell us more unprompted.
“I mish home. I mish all my frens, all da boys hey. I mish Doney Livet…see wee Doney when he does his little dance hey…all the girls starh laughin but I love it hey…I’ll show ya hey…”

He got up to dance a little but nearly toppled over the table so I sorta shove/push/placed him back onto his chair. Now before I go on I must clarify one thing. In Australia, it is illegal for a bartender to serve an intoxicated person. There are big fines involved. It is also illegal to allow a drunken person to remain on your premises. Again, big fines apply. There is a slow realisation that it is not like Ireland where you are fed full of the jungle juice till you can take no more.

So as my flaming drunk new friend continued to tell me about how he missed his friends and in particular, the dancing habits of one wee Doney Livet, I proceeded to tell him that he had drunk enough and needed to be on his way. He was a little confused at first, but as it dawned on him that I was asking him to leave, he signalled for some of his friends to come over from a different table. I explained nice and simply to them that their friend was drunk as the proverbial, to which they agreed. They didn’t agree that he should be asked to leave though.

“Where are you from hey?” one asked me
“Dublin, man, northside Dublin” I replied
“Well my Grandad is from Sherriff Street hey…so we’re all from the same spot you know. See my friend here is alright, I’ll look after him…don’t worry about it. Sure we’re all Irish hey”

I explained again to him that it didn’t matter what nationality we were, that he had to go. In fairness the Derry boys were not looking for hassle and they clapped their drunken friend out of the pub and I’m sure he staggered home to bed. As I turned to walk away another barman came up to me and pointed out the other rancid drunk Irishman I was meant to throw out. He was standing about five yards the other direction, with two guys and a girl, resembling some kind of Mr. Softmint flapping around on a marshmallow floor. As I sided up to him to inform him that he was more than a little inebriated and no longer would he be served alcohol in our establishment, he regarded me with astonished, perplexed confusion.

“Ha, sure of course I’m drunk, sure amen’t I Irish ya gobshite!” he told me.. “sure aren’t you Irish yourself?”
“I am” I told him
“Well, sure you know yourself so…now don’t be annoying me while I’m drinking…I’m causing no harm to anyone”
“Where I am from and whether you are causing any trouble has nothing to do with it…if you are drunk then you have to leave. Plain and simple”
“How many security guards do you have on Side Show Bob?” he asked, subtly referencing my curly fro
“Just me”
“Well I don’t fancy your chances of getting me out of here” he answered, slugging back his drink and laughing to his friends.
“I don’t either, but the cops won’t mind arresting another drunken paddy. Hang on a sec while I call them.”

With that he downed his drink and stormed out the door shouting all manner of obscenities and insults. His friends pleaded not to call them and I didn’t. He had the look of an illegal about him alright and the vague threat of an arrest made him shit his pants.

Rereading this I look at myself having come full circle. I used to be that messer break dancing on tables, streaking through pubs, wobbling and arguing, singing and acting the bollix. I took it as my God given Irish right to be able to be drunk as all hell and not be accountable for it. I would once have said that being Irish then you’d have to know yourself. It was something I assumed is part of our identity. Being drunk and messy is something I assumed is part of what makes us undeniably Irish. But let me tell you dear reader, that it is a very recent phenomenon this drunken Paddy. I for one am sick of the label.  I don’t want to be throwing out the drunken paddies, I want us to throw out the idea that we are all born to be drunken Paddies. We deserve better than being known as the drunks of the world.

8 thoughts on “Throwing out the drunken Irish”

  1. Sh*t man too many of us have been there. I’ll never forget one time you vouching for me to two massive security guards in a 24hour pub you worked in sydney in 2000, I have very hazzy recollection, but apparently I was asked to leave 3 times and all I remember was walking up face down in a couch in Liverpool Street (dam c-sucking-cowboys!). Could sound like the end to somebodys great night out but in truth I can’t remember most of that night. I get black outs when I drink too much, way more than other people I’ve talked to so over the years. I’ve gotten use to actually taking heed of ‘knowing the one thats one too many” swapping to pints of water, avoiding the spirits, so black outs are few and far between but unfortunately it happened to me on Saturday night… I turned into an absolute gluten for the sauce! I was really disappointed with my self and it ruined that late part of the night, the next day and even today still recovering!… So there’s prob been 2 black outs for me in the last year as apposed to 10 – 20 in the glory days of my Irish righteousness excessive drinking 17-28 year old stage.

    So I recon your blogs and are actually helping me to rethink my drinking habits, acknowledge triggers for excessive drinking and black outs like the spirits, diff social groups (ie when I meet up with my college mates I have a tendency to turn back the clock to the black out bad habits) avoiding joining or trying to be forced into rounds, big social occasions like weddings… (extremely happy and proud to say I didn’t get drunk at mine, only had my first drink around 11pm – something that wouldn’t have happened without major rethinking and self awareness)…

    So a massive thank you to you for the blogs and vid’s they’ve really helped me (admittedly I’m not there all the way yet myself but in a lot better position than before). Keep up the great work. Proud of you John you’ve got a good soul!

  2. The one thing I learnt about asking a drunken patron to leave is never, ever tell them they are drunk. They will be astounded and pissed at you for the mere suggestion that they are intoxicated. The other thing I learnt is get them out the door before their mates know what is happening. Nice one on the cops, that always works.
    I’ve lived in the States for a number of years now and the idea of a drunken paddy does not fill the locals with warm fuzzy feelings. You do not go and tell everyone at work the next day that you got pissed drunk the night before and streaked down the high street in Skala screaming like a Banshee (sorry couldn’t resist). I think the problem is that the Irish abroad don’t realise that it is not cool to be pissed out of your brain all the time. I for one don’t want to be associated with them and I certainly don’t like having to deal with them.

  3. Well Rob
    Have to say I’m not too proud of some of my finer moments in Skala town…I know I wrecked your head a little and I suppose it’s too late for apologies!! But sorry all the same.. at one stage I was drinking Harvey Wallbangers while the sun was up and Rusty Nails when the sun went down…is it any wonder there were semi naked banshee wailings in full voice!!
    Getting the drunks out the door is the biggie. It’s always easier to argue with them outside than in.
    I wonder why we are such bad drunks? We seem to think we’re great craic altogether, yet every other nationality thinks we’re a pain in the arse. Is everyone else wrong or what??

    Them cowboys have a lot to answer for. It’s tough when you remember having a great night, but don’t remember the details. I went through that for years, just like yourself. And it’s very difficult to know that forgetting large chunks of a night is a serious issue. We normally laugh it off. It is acceptable to dismiss it as all part of the fun. Kudos to you man for turning around your drinking and enjoying it instead of hammering yourself into the ground every time. Your self awareness is key to your success in life.
    I like to think of it in terms of running a marathon. We all get our own speed but some of us sprint as quick as we can till we collapse, then recover and sprint and collapse ad infinitum. Seems like you started off sprinting but have manged to recover into a nice steady jog. It”s the way to go man and keep her steady. I wish I could do the same, but I only have one gear and the clutch is wrecked at the moment!

  4. Well said for thought..and should be for every irish drinker out there. Get it on the front of the aul herald and youll have the country sorted!!

  5. Howaya SP,

    great read yet again. I recently blacked out the last part of the night (only an hour apparently but still). If you can imagine the scene of having to get the taximan to stop so I could walk the last bit home instead of puking in his cab. Dont hardly remember the details and had to be told them. The real thing about booze is that once you go beyond a certain point you have no willpower left and no idea how pissed you are. The only way to stay on the right path is not to get hammered. By the time you want to stop you havent the faculties to do it.

    As with other races our national identity runs deep. Is it too late to reshape it into something else? What would it be if we could?

    Jimmy R.

  6. Hey John, I always said to Tanya you were great craic and we both had a lot of time for you. But as an employee you were an absolute fucking nightmare!!. I’m one to talk though, I really did some crazy shit due to drink when I was younger. I just pray to God that when my kids make the same mistakes that they are as lucky as I was in getting away with it.
    As to your point we Irish are a pain in the arse when we are drunk, although we think we are hilarious at the time. When I tell friends some of the stuff I did they think it is funny, particulary the stuff I did when I blacked out. What I learnt is that if you can recall what you did at least you know what an eejit you made of yourself. But when you can’t remember and someone has to tell you what drunken antics you got up to it stops being funny. Drinking is meant to be a social activity not an extreme sport and we Irish think that we are the World Champs. The problem is nobody is cheering for us. If your ever State side let me know, would love to meet up with you and by the way no apologies are necessary.

  7. Mr. Rimmer

    Thanks for your comments – There’s no shame in admitting you still have blackouts, but you have to ask the question…is it worth it? In that black out time you could get your head punched in, get run over by a truck or buggered by some Jeffrey Dalmer type. You just don’t know. The happy medium is where you need to be as you get older. If you find you are still blacking out from time to time, then stop drinking whiskey or wahtever it is you think is a good idea to drink at the time.
    I suppose I would like a future where we are thought of in more regard around the world. I would like us to be leaders in culture, ideas and technology. I would like us to have respect as a nation. The only group of Irish who have respect around the world are the boxers and the rugby team – in every other faculty we show no leadership or power. This is what frustrates and angers me…us wishy washy drinky fiddly arty writey singy worky makey IT’y didily diddily dee

  8. Rob,
    I thin you sum it up really well – we are pains in the arse and not many others think we’re as funny as we do ourselves. The complete shite we talk is acceptable but some of the juvenile anctics are just plain incredible. But that’s us drunken paddies for ya!!
    I’d love to hook up when we’re in the States next. Trying to get to burning man in September so maybe after or before (or during!) that?
    I retract my apology so!!! I loved working for you guys but know I gave you a few headaches. They were great days though, great days indeed. What I wouldn’t give to be dropping some minger home on the back of the moped from the Hotel California now!!


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