Excess, Intemperance and Overabundance across Cultures and Literatures
Sláinte! Excessive Drinking as a Central Part of Irish Culture
← 218 | 219 → Marzena ZielonkaUniversity of Opole
The association between the Irish and drinking has been a commonplace in the Irish cultural tradition. Drinking has seemed to be a central element of social and economic life in Ireland and wherever the Irish have migrated, the image of the hard drinking Paddy has followed. Representations of the Irishmen at home and abroad, which have tended to focus on their drunkenness, have been depicted in literature, drama, song and film. Surprisingly enough, in some places terms “Irish” and “alcohol” have even become synonymous (Stivers 9). Although such problems caused by excessive drinking as family breakdown, domestic violence, child abuse or motor fatalities which have increased in Ireland after the fall of the Celtic Tiger cannot be underestimated, it can be argued that drinking has been a significant component in the production and reproduction of Irish identity. For Thomas Wilson, the author of Drinking Cultures: Alcohol and Identity, the cultural values shared by drinkers can have a powerful influence on their sense of unity. He argues that
Drinking alcohol is an extremely important feature in the production and reproduction of ethnic, national, class, gender and local community identities […] In many societies, perhaps the majority, drinking alcohol is a key practice in the expression of identity, an element in the construction and dissemination of national and other cultures. (Wilson 3)
Therefore, while many social sciences have focused on alcohol and alcoholism as a psychological, social and health issue, the...
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