Creative catalysts – without the drink

A chara, – In addition to Una Mullally’s very inspiring list of 100 of the most creative people in Ireland (Creative catalysts, Culture, August 10th), a number of other creative people and collectives are equally deserving of recognition for their untiring efforts to provide alcohol-free spaces for the arts and entertainment around the country.

The Milk and Cookie Stories crew has provided a cosy evening of storytelling, tea and home-baked biscuits, all free of charge, to an audience of 100–180 people in Dublin every month since 2009.

Exchange Dublin has been offering an affordable space for emerging artists and performers in Temple Bar for as long.

The Funky Seomra has provided an alcohol-free nightclub in Dublin since 2007, with events in Cork and Galway more recently. And the Earthsong camps have created an alcohol-free alternative to the “Stumbleville” of the mainstream festival scene since the same year.


These creative social and cultural initiatives deserve special recognition in a society where more than half of alcohol-drinkers engage in harmful drinking, where 40 per cent of teenagers aged 15 or 16 years engage in binge drinking, where alcohol contributes to 16 per cent of child abuse and neglect cases, and where alcohol-related illness, accidents and crime cost the taxpayer €3,000 per person per year. )

It is often difficult for event organisers to find good venues for alcohol-free entertainment, and many of our major music, film and arts festivals seem to be dependent on sponsorship from alcohol manufacturers.

This collective alcohol-dependence presents performing artists with a particularly tricky paradox, because, while alcohol makes people want to talk or to fall asleep, the performer generally needs an audience that is alert and listening.

The multi-talented movers and shakers listed above deserve special recognition as innovators who are breaking new ground to provide hubs for creative people to have the craic while keeping their wits about them. – Is mise,


Specialist Registrar in Public

Health Medicine,

Dr Steevens’ Hospital,

Dublin 8 .