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Pregaming, beer pong and the legal drinking age limit - Young-adult party cultures of Ireland and America

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Enjoy some drinks out in Ireland
A Texan pays a visit to Ireland. He enters a pub and raises his voice to the crowd of drinkers,'I hear you Irish are a bunch of drinkin' fools. I'll give $500 American dollars to anybody in here who can drink 10 pints of Guinness back to back.'

No one takes of the Texan's offer.

Paddy Murphy gets up and leaves the bar. 
Thirty minutes later, he shows back up and taps the Texan on the shoulder. ‘Is your bet still good?' asks Paddy.


The Texan answers, 'Yes’, and he orders the barman to line up 10 pints of Guinness.
Immediately, Paddy downs all 10 pints of beer, drinking them all back to back. The Texan sits down in amazement, gives Paddy $500 and asks, 'If ya don't mind me askin', where did you go for that 30 minutes you were gone?'


Paddy Murphy replies, 'Oh, I had to go to the pub down the street to make sure I could do it first.'

How many jokes like this have you heard? Whether we like it or not, the Irish have a reputation for being drinkers. One of my Irish tour guides explained to me and my fellow travelers, “Ireland is home to many festivals throughout the year, but really, these festivals are just excuses to have bigger drinking sessions than normal.”

Another group that gets labeled as heavy drinkers is college students. So, attending college in Ireland has given me the perfect opportunity to compare and contrast the drinking culture of my generation in American and in Ireland.

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At my college in Maine, and at most colleges across the country, the weekend nights start out with a “pregame.” Groups of friends get together and drink prior to attending larger parties or events. Pregaming usually involves music, conversation, and most importantly, drinking games. Beer pong, flip cup, and various card games are popular, but everyone has their favorite. Nevertheless, whatever game is chosen, the loser has to drink.

Naturally, my American friends and I have sustained our pregaming tendencies here in Ireland and we usually play a few games before we go out to the pubs. There have been multiple occasions where our new Irish friends have joined us beforehand, but rarely do any of them take part in the drinking games that we play. We ask them to join, but usually we get the response “No thanks, I’d rather sit here and laugh when you guys have to drink.”

I asked one of my Irish friends in particular, why don’t you ever play drinking games with us? He explained to me that he doesn’t want to have to drink because he can’t sink a ping pong ball in a cup, or because he didn’t choose the right card from a deck, and so on.

He said, “When Americans pre-drink, drinking is a punishment, but for the Irish, it’s a reward.” This made me think, do the Irish have a healthier attitude towards alcohol than Americans?

To be completely honest, going to college was eye-opening for me. Sadly, I’ve seen more people puking because they’re drunk than I’ve ever expected to see in a lifetime.

Despite having picked up a drunken Irish girl from a dance floor, and hearing a story about an Irish girl laying drunk in the street gutter, in my time in Ireland so far the general drunkenness of the people I see is mild compared to what I see at college. (This sounds bad—for my college, for my peers, for America. But rather than passing judgment, I’m just stating the differences.)

I think there are a couple of reasons for the dissimilarities in the young-adult drinking cultures of Ireland and America:

The legal drinking age in Ireland is 18, rather than 21. The younger drinking age has been theorized to promote more responsible drinking habits in young adults than those who are not legal until the age of 21. (I’m not going to delve into this deeply because the sociological/psychological/cultural study of this has taken up books by itself.)

Drinking takes place in public places more often so you simply can’t be that drunk. Drinking at my college primarily takes place on campus, in dorms, and on-campus houses. There aren’t clubs or bars around so we drink inside. There aren’t security guards monitoring the parties to reprimand someone who is too drunk or being obnoxious or belligerent. Because of this “freedom”, people go overboard.

But what I’m really interested in is the American tendency to make drinking a punishment. Why are the popular drinking games those that make people drink when they lose?

My Irish friend really made it clear to me that there is something backwards in this approach to drinking, and I can’t help but wonder that if college-aged Americans begin to change our views of drinking, and move them closer to those of the Irish, who view drinking as a reward, would my generation’s drinking habits become safer and healthier?

Though they may be able to drink a lot, the Irish folk I’ve met know that drinking should remain an enjoyable activity rather than a dangerous habit.
-------------------
READ MORE:
Read more stories from the Gaelic Girls 


The only women Irish men buy drinks for are prostitutes


The top ten funniest tips given to tourists in Ireland
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