It makes sense some of the best lines about drink come from the sodden Irishry

In a Word . . . Drink

Sometimes I wonder about us indomitable Irishry. Give us a couple of drinks and we love everybody, buy for the world and then end up taking on cars in a scrum on the Champs Élysées. It happened during the Rugby World Cup. I saw the photograph, oh boy. Well, I just had to laugh.

And they wonder why we chose Zombie as our rugby anthem. “With their tanks, and their bombs, and their bombs, and their guns/ In your head, in your head they are crying/ In your head, in your head/ Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie/ What’s in your head? In your head?/ Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie-ie, oh . . .”

Just add 137,000 pints of beer. Yes, that’s the number rugby fans drank during the Ireland-Scotland Rugby World Cup match last October. “Out of, out of, your head/Zombie, zombie-ie-ie-ie, oh (dear!).” It was a record for the Stade de France. The previous one was for a heavy metal Metallica concert there, when a mere 90,000 pints were downed. “Zombie, zombie-ie-ie-ie, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, eh-eh-oh, ra-ra! (careful now!).”

Of course, you can be sure few of those pints were paid for by the Scots. They just don’t “do” that sort of spending. Even Cavan people are considered generous in Scotland, where they watch every penny. It’s why they wear the sporran and its precious content where they do. Where your treasure is, there be your heart also. Scotsmen’s hearts are somewhat lower down.


So it makes sense that some of the best lines about drink come from the sodden Irishry (hic!).

There’s Oscar (Wilde), of course, who said work was the curse of the drinking classes. An update indicates this is worse with remote working. And there’s Blessed Brendan of the Behans, Apostle of Booze. He who, allegedly, did the first drunken television interview, with Malcolm Muggeridge, in June 1956 and on which occasion the word “f**k” was used for the first time on British television. (Not by Muggeridge!).

Behan described himself as “a drinker with writing problems” and said “one drink is too many for me and a thousand not enough”. Alas, poor Brendan, dead at 42, making a reality of his saying that “there is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary”. As Fr Jack might say: “Feck.”

Drink, from Old English drinc, drync, for “beverage, usually alcoholic”.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times