Goooood Friday--following Drink Frenzy Thursday
Today, i had the day off because this extremely Catholic country gives employers the option of taking a public holiday. So, sitting here at 12pm I am basking in the silence that surrounds my apartment. Normally on a Friday night you would hear the shrieks from the bottom of the stairwell that leads to the courtyard just beyond my door. This coming from the under 18's 'bushing' (drinking in the streets or any available nook such as our stairwell) because they can't drink at home before going out in town. The usual queue outside the GPO (a club across the street) has also vanished.
Is it simply that people stay in to observe the holiday like pious Catholics? No, it's simply because its the one day a year other than Christmas when all sale of alcohol is banned. Shop owners like those of McCambridges where I always go for their lovely selection of cheese, wine, and mint chocolate truffles even went so far as to put curtains of plastic up over all of the wine shelves to remind us of the sanctity of this religious tradition. Suggesting that one ought not to even look at drink lest they be tempted to indulge their sinful habits... Well, I wouldn't go that far, but they do cover up the bottles.
Interesting though isn't it? So, what does this do? Do people stop drinking for the day? I'm not sure, although I'm sure many do, there are probably plenty who just decide to stock up the night before. Brian, my ever intelligent housemate has shared the Loughrea tradition with me. He grew up in a this little town, 45 minutes outside Galway, and worked as a barman in the local pub starting at the age of 13. Every Thursday night prior to Good Friday the pub would be crammed with the frenzied townspeople. At last call many would even order four pints for themselves because they felt the need to get as much drink into them as possible before the bar stopped serving at midnight. Brian claimed that its one of the biggest going out nights in town simply because of the ban.
Interesting fact: This love of drink is why Happy Hour is also banned in the country. The Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003 has the following stipulations:
'Happy hour' drinks promotions will be banned.
-There will be no entertainment during the 30 minutes 'drinking up' time. (This is the last half hour befor a pub closes)
-Publicans who sell alcohol to people who are already drunk will face stiff fines, starting at 1,500 for a first offence. (Obviously not followed very often, and what is the definition of drunk anyway. Do they expect breathalizer tests in pubs?)
-These fines will also apply to licensees who allow drunkenness on their premises.
-Publicans will be allowed to set a minimum age for the sale and consumption of alcohol, which is over the statutory minimum of 18 years. In such cases, the minimum age must be publicly displayed.
The new provisions will also give greater powers to the Gardai, including greater enforcement powers for non-uniformed Gardai.
-A return to an 11.30pm closing on Thursday.
-Young people aged 15-17 will not be permitted in pubs after 9pm, unless they are attending a private function at which a substantial meal is served. (Haha)
-Those aged 18-20 will have to carry ID with proof of age, in order to remain in a pub after 9pm.
But who knows if it actually has decreased binge drinking which was the ultimate goal of the Justice Minister who signed the bill...
Interesting fact # 2: Almost three of out four young people aged 15 -18 are regular drinkers, according to a recent survey which also found that 19% of girls admitted to having been drunk on more than 10 occasions.
Nearly half of all school pupils aged 11-18 are current drinkers. Current drinking is defined as taking an alcohol beverage at least once a month. (Eastern Regional Health Authority Study 2000)
Interesting Fact #3:
Drinking among 15-16-year-old students, selected Western countries and United States, 2003
France Ireland Italy Sweden United Kingdom United States
Minimum purchase age (any alcoholic beverage or venue) 15 16 18 16 18 18 21
Had a drink, last 30 days 58% 73% 64% 51% 74% 35%
Had five or more drinks on at least one occasion (binge drinking), last 30 days 28% 57% 34% 37% 54% 22%
Been drunk at least once, last 30 days 15% 53% 19% 34% 46% 18%
Lifted from: Except for minimum purchase age, Bjorn Hibell et al., The ESPAD Report 2003: Alcohol and Other Drug Use Among Students in 35 European Countries (Stockholm: The Swedish Council for Information on Alcohol and Other Drugs [CAN], 2004).
This table doesn't work so well, it shows up in my myspace account if you want an easier to read version.