A pint in time


Sir, – You tentatively suggest that the earliest evidence for the notorious intemperance of the Irish to be the 16th century (“Irish workers in the 16th-century drank 14 pints a day”, October 12th).

Yet the very Irish ninth-century scholastic John Scottus Eriugena was famed for his sottishness, and an anecdote from a drinking session he had at the table of Charles the Bald reveals a perception of the Irish as drunks.

Playing on words, the king asks: what separates a drunken fool (sottus) and an Irishman (Scottus)? To which the witty philosopher is alleged to have replied, “Only a table.” – Yours, etc,


Faculty of Philosophy,

Theology and Religious


Radboud University,


The Netherlands.