Artists brew up storm over Arthur's Day
Singer-songwriter Declan O’Rourke has become the latest Irish artist to criticise Arthur’s Day and said Ireland does not need a national day to celebrate alcohol.
His comments come after musician and songwriter Steve Wall described Arthur’s Day as a “cynical act in pulling the wool over Paddy’s eyes” and “patronising bollox”.
O’Rourke said his own experience of Arthur’s Day a couple of years ago in Wexford put him off ever playing the day again and he said he had no idea when he was booked to play that it was a promotion for Guinness.
“The whole idea of Arthur’s Day grates on me ever since I heard about it first. Is this all we have to offer as a nation. Is this our heritage?
“I know Guinness is a national icon, but this could be done in a more dignified way. Paddy’s Day is bad enough with people rolling around the streets vomiting and making fools of themselves,” he told The Irish Times. “For a country that has one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption, it is a bit over the top. I don’t think we need to fill people up with drink.”
O’Rourke said the gig he played for Arthur’s Day was “very messy” with a lot of fans availing of the free drink on offer. He said the night was marred by a “drunken clown” who was dressed up as Arthur Guinness for the night.
O’Rourke said he was not anti-Guinness and has drank it himself. “We’ve all been through a certain age when we drink a little bit excessively, but that is part of what I think is wrong with our culture which is the acceptance of a culture of excess. We should be encouraging people to drink in moderation,” he said.
“Having a national day in homage to an alcoholic beverage is not going to help that social problem.”
O’Rourke says he has been asked to play Arthur’s Day since originally appearing in Wexford but refused. He is playing Armagh city tonight, but not as part of Arthur’s Day.
Yesterday, Steve Wall, the creative force along with his brother Joe behind The Stunning and The Walls, pointed out that all the headline acts, who will play in various small venues this evening, are British despite the fact that Guinness is synonymous with Ireland and Irishness. He accused British-based multinational Diageo of ignoring Irish culture to sell Guinness.
“The smugness of Diageo's Sept 27th campaign stinks and the idea of bringing the party to us courtesy of a bunch of corporate UK acts is the biggest insult of all to Irish artists”.
Wall said his interest was piqued by a full page advertisement in The Irish Times last Saturday which stated: “The stars could be out at your local” and listed eights acts, Amy MacDonald, Ellie Goulding, Example, Fat Boy Slim, Mika, Professor Green, Texas and Tinie Tempah, none of whom are Irish, and below it “plus over 500 homegrown acts”.
He took it to mean that Irish acts would not have equal billing with foreign stars.
“Wow … 500 Irish acts who don’t deserve a mention get to fill the gaps all around Ireland on a day celebrating a drink that’s synonymous with our country,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “I have to say it really sickens me. Just when our music industry is really on its knees we swallow this patronising bollox hook, line and sinker”.