Ireland’s drink culture: A songwriter's response
Andrew Basquille penned Arthur’s Song after hearing the Guinness Storehouse was Ireland’s number one tourist attraction last year
Andrew Basquille who has written a satirical song about Arthur’s Day. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill /The Irish Times
“I was moved to write Arthur’s Song when I heard last year that the Guinness Storehouse was Ireland’s Number 1 tourist attraction. That made me
sort of ashamed,” says Andrew Basquille, the singer- songwriter behind Arthur’s Song.
His song, a satire about Arthur’s Day, was recorded yesterday for the first time by The Irish Times and can be heard on irishtimes.com.
“I wanted to write a satirical song in the tradition of Jonathan Swift or Flann O’Brien.
“I wrote Arthur’s Song last year and on Arthur’s Day I sang it unaccompanied in Merchant’s Arch in Temple Bar.
“It seemed to go down well, and my daughter encouraged me to send the lyrics in to The Irish Times.”
Musicians Christy Moore and Mike Scott have also written songs taking issue with Arthur’s Day, the festival devised by the brewing group Diageo in 2009 and taking place on Thursday.
Their songs have been heavily shared on social media in recent days.
“I was delighted to hear that both Christy Moore and Mike Scott have also written songs about Arthur’s Day,” says Basquille. “You feel there’s
a kind of momentum; Irish people know when they’re being played.
“It’s telling that the common element in all three songs is the A&E department.
“It shows the pressure medical services are under as a result of alcohol abuse, and the unhealthy relationship this country has with drink.
“Diageo will say that Arthur’s Day is not aimed at young people, but their aim is to sell more Guinness, and most of the acts playing at this festival are aimed at young people.”
Basquille is a former maths teacher and part-time musician, who also runs a summer language school for foreign students.
“The foreign students who come to my school rarely have issues with drink.
“But any secondary-school teacher will tell you that Irish teenagers are a different story.”
Basquille say he himself is a “moderate drinker” who drinks Guinness but “wouldn’t have any particular brand loyalty”.
“I’m not advocating abstentionism, but I have a problem with people overdoing it, and with the corporate promotion of drinking.”
Let’s sing a song to Arthur, he’s the saviour of our land
Without him we’d be sober and our livers would be grand
He’s saved us from those pioneers, Fr Matthew and his ilk
If not for his invention, sure we’d still be drinking milk
Think of all the visitors he’s brought to this fair town
Not to see museums, or cathedrals of renown
Some cities have fine palaces, attractions old and new
But what we’ve got is priceless, it’s a brewery with a view
Never mind the Book of Kells, Kilmainham Gaol or the GPO
When it comes to our true history there’s just one place to go
Don’t bother with the Phoenix Park or even Temple Bar
Just make your way to Arthur’s cos it’s made us what we are
There’s no sup on earth that’s like it to bring joy and peace of mind
It fills you full of love and makes you gentle, pure and kind
It’s not like any other drink, it’s more a way of life
And it’s given the strength to many’s the man to sort out things with his wife
Forget about St Patrick, you could say he’s had his day
On the 17th of March it’s always pissing anyway
So put your faith in Arthur, he has only one command
And that’s to be responsible while drinking all you can
What’s the harm in one or two, three or four or five,
Or six or seven, eight or more, as long as we’re alive
Don’t mind the dry ol’ killjoys who say we’re off the rails
Just do your part for brand awareness, market share and sales
We’ve a certain reputation, of that there is no doubt
It’s our national identity, it’s what we’re all about
The more we contribute the higher will the share price be
And everyone’s content unless you work in A&E
So let’s sing this song to Arthur and celebrate his day
Let’s remember as we honour him that we’re the ones who pay
The doctors say it’s killin’ us, we know, but we don’t care
You’ll find no other country that’s so feckin’ drink aware