Drinking: How to have a craic'ng time in Ireland safely

The Irish are known for many things. Their patriotism, music, green rolling hills, poets, potato famine and drinking.

It is beyond a national hobby, it's a way of life. Quaint Irish pubs that have low ceilings and are the size of a bedroom dot the cities and countryside while Dublin's infamous Temple Bar heaves with tourists.
St Patricks Day is without a doubt the day you want to be in an Irish pub experiencing the craic with the guiness flowing, music playing and a real party vibe.

While the Irish are incredibly hospitable and love nothing more than a perfectly poured Guinness and the "craic" (Gaelic with no exact translation apart from it being fun and laughter in social situations), excessive booze can turn into violent fights, drink driving, sexual assault and terrible accidents.

Not an ideal way to end a holiday.

Drinking culture in Ireland

The Irish are so friendly, charming and fun, especially with a few under their belt, that they make for such entertaining company you may not want to leave your position holding up the bar! But while they may be match fit and can easily neck pint after pint, you could find yourself legless and worse for wear in the bathroom, driving the porcelain bus.

This can be particularly risky when you are travelling on your own and in an unfamiliar town, or in a big city like Dublin.

The last thing you want is for your belongings to go "missing" because you're so tanked you left them at the bar with a stranger and don't know what's happened to them, and you can't pay for or remember where you are staying.

And if you manage to keep hold of your stuff after a skinful and find yourself swaying and stumbling down the cobbled streets at night, you could become an easy target for a mugging. As mentioned under crimes and scams there are group of hoodlums known as "knackers" who frequent tourist hot spots and pick off prey.

Be mindful of anyone who tries to show you a "short cut", obviously this isn't a crime unique to Ireland. If you're going out for a night on the town, try and go with someone. If not, just watch what you drink, keep your wits about you and know when to call it a night.

Drink driving in Ireland

Like most other western countries, it's a crime. The limit in Ireland it is 0.08 and there are random breath tests. So don't think because you are in a country where there's a bar on every corner and whiskey is liquid gold that there won't be cops on the street targeting drink driving. If you do happen to be well over the limit, and get arrested, spending the night in the police "drunk tank" is hardly a postcard moment for the folks back home.

Have some options to get home safely before you down too many Jameson's. Driving yourself is not one of them.

Practice safe sex

Now that religious and social expectations of this predominantly Catholic country have softened in the last generation, no sex before marriage is a rule that has been mostly abandoned by young Irish people. But their carefree attitudes to unprotected sex has led to an increase in sexually transmitted diseases.

If you are up for some holiday "romance", take your own condoms. In Ireland they aren't cheap and not stocked widely, especially after hours when you need them.

Drink spiking risks in Ireland

A warning to male and female travellers. Ireland is generally a very safe country to travel in on your own, but there are limits to the risks you should take, and like in any other country, accepting drinks off complete strangers is one of them.

There are many easy and effective ways for someone to spike your drink and depending on the drug used, the effects can be debilitating very quickly.

The most popular drugs used to spike drinks are Rohypnol and Ketamine. The first is nicknamed "roofie" and contains the powerful sedative flunitrazepam that will knock you for six if secreted in a drink. It is also known as the "date rape drug" as women become so incapacitated that the spiker easily has their way with them.

Ketamine is a horse tranquiliser and when taken with excessive amounts of alcohol can be fatal. So much for the "craic" then.

Just be careful with how much alcohol you consume, don't leave your drink to have a dance and come back and drink it afterwards and generally don't accept drinks from strangers. If you are being chatted up and enjoying the process, buy your own drinks or if he buys yours, watch them being poured and delivered.

What's the emergency number in Ireland?

If you do find yourself in trouble or have been sexually assaulted, contact the police on 112.

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  • Sinead said

    Half of the information in this article is a lazy stereotype, the rest is misleading rubbish. Yes, drinking is popular in Ireland; it's also just as popular in many other countries I have travelled to. Nobody in Ireland is going to "get you drunk" unless you want to get drunk yourself, and if you think an Irish person is drinking too much, then don't copy them!! That would apply to anybody, anywhere in the world. It seems to me that the stereotype about the drunken Irish person is far more important to tourists than it is to Irish people! The comments about unprotected sex, and sexual assault make it sound like the country is packed full of dangerous predators, who are drunkenly waiting at every corner to pounce on unsuspecting tourists! Unprotected sex is a personal preference, it's not a countrywide epidemic, and sexual assault is a sad fact of life the world over, and as in any other country in the world, it is perpetrated in Ireland only by a certain kind of minority, who anybody, tourist or native, would have to be unlucky to meet. As for the comments about "knackers" who pick pockets and so on, "knacker" is actually a slang term that is used in Ireland to describe members of the Irish travelling community, and it has been completely misused in this article. It is possible to wear white trainers and a tracksuit, and not be in a "gang" that is waiting around at night to attack people. If the purpose of this article was to give accurate advice about safety in Ireland, it has failed miserably. And by the way, if anybody thinks that condoms are not readily available in Ireland, they obviously haven't been here since 1972!!! Seriously, it's no wonder people think the Irish all have red hair and a leprechaun with a pot of gold!! Visitors will be better off seeing for themselves that it's a completely normal place, instead of believing this rubbish. There's good and bad everywhere; Ireland is just the same.

  • safetyhub said

    Sinead<br>we are definitely not saying these problems are unique to Ireland, we say a lot worse things about some other countries in the safety articles about them.... this is an article about Ireland, not a comparative judgement. Even as you yourself say, these things do happen.<br> We agree that no-one "gets you drunk" in fact in the first par under DRINKING CULTURE we say:<br>"But while they may be match fit and can easily neck pint after pint, you could find yourself legless and worse for wear in the bathroom, ..." A clear warning that you should regulate your own intake of alcohol.<br>The comments about sexual assault is a general warning about what could happen if you drink more than you're used to. That applies to anywhere that has a drinking culture. We repeat the warning in the articles about other countries, such as the one about Germany's Oktoberfest.<br>Don't forget we are very complimentary about the Irish:<br>"the Irish are incredibly hospitable ..." and "The Irish are so friendly, charming and fun..." and "Ireland is generally a very safe country to travel in on your own," are just a few of the things we also say in this article.<br>As for sexual health, it's not us saying std rates are rising, the health authorities do. " of the 14 notifiable STIs in Ireland, ten had shown increases in the number of cases since 1999" says irishhealth.com quoting health department figures. The government acknowledged there was poor sex education among young people and instituted an education campaign to raise awareness.<br>You might be right about condom availability.... but they were illegal until 1978 so I imagine in rural areas there might be some persistent reluctance to stock them openly in shops.<br>Phil from the safety Hub<br>

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