A typical Saturday  night

There’s a reason why the Irish are known for drinking, and it’s because they do, in fact, LOVE to drink alcohol. To say they work hard at earning this world renowned reputation would be the understatement of a lifetime.

Back in Los Angeles, it was typical for my friends and me to go to a bar, have a couple of drinks, and then call it a night. Sure, we would go a bit nuts occasionally, perhaps once every couple of weeks (more during the holiday season). But because in LA you have to drive everywhere, or pay a ridiculous sum for a taxi, we’d often keep it relatively quiet.  

Here, drinking is a commitment and one that is taken very seriously. Most of my friends do not just go out for a few drinks, they go all out. When planning an outing, a typical conversation goes like this:

Me: “So who’s all going?”

Friend: “Well, me and Aoife, who’s drinking cos she’s off work tomorrow. Earnan and Bushman have a match tomorrow so they won’t come. Roisin’s off the drink for Lent. Sinead can drive. I think I’ll be drinking as well since I can have a lie-in tomorrow.”

Me, happily drunk or “locked” as the Irish would say!

By the way, it should be noted that Sinead is eight months pregnant and therefore our designated driver most nights. In a couple of months she’ll be hitting the pub with the rest of us. I find it amusing that the conversation about going out always includes the details of who will drink, and who will not be coming because – for whatever reason – he or she cannot drink. In the above scenario, Earnan and Bushman (who play for the kick-ass Mattock Rangers) will not be joining us as they have a 3 p.m. match the next day. There’s no such thing as just going out for one or two drinks, so rather than torture themselves they just opt out of the evening. When they drink, they drink.

And what, exactly, does this mean? It means several pints of beer, followed by Jack Daniels and Coke, and if they’re really going to go for it a few whiskeys at the end. I’m a wine drinker and due to the bad influence of my Irish friends, I will down two bottles on my own with no problem. Of course I’m only joking about their bad influence…sort of. My friend Sinead, the pregnant one, is actually the worse influence; there’s nothing she enjoys more than being the sober one observing all us drunken fools. “Oh have another, it won’t kill you,” she’ll say, sweetly. But I don’t want get a hangover. “Ah, don’t worry about tomorrow! Here, have another glass!” She’s like the little devil on your shoulder!

A popular pub in town

In most LA bars, I’d say about 20% of all the patrons are really drunk on any given night. Here, that figure goes up to about 75%. The mentality here is, “Why bother to drink if you’re not going to get drunk?” This sheer and undeniable dedication to the art of drinking is quite admirable, really. Why do something half-ass when you can go all the way? If Irish men focused even half the energy to committed relationships as they do to drinking, Irish women everywhere would rejoice. Just takin’ the piss, lads!

Suffice it to say my liver is pretty well-pickled after only a month here, but I can’t complain. There are many reasons to drink in Ireland: freezing cold weather, a half-dozen pubs on every street and – most importantly – because it’s a good craic. And quite frankly, there is no better reason than that!

Do you live in Drogheda and have any recommendations for good pubs and/or restaurants? Email clare@anamericaninireland.com