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The truth about Irish people and alcohol

March 15, 2006

Irish drinking songs, Irish bar jokes and a barrage of Irish alcoholic products enforce the stereotype that the Irish know how to hold their liquor.

It turns out the stereotype is based in fact.

Irish adults drink more alcohol than residents of any other nation in Western Europe, according to a study of the Irish drinking culture performed by Ireland's Department of Health and Children and the Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs at Stockholm University in Sweden.

In a given year, Irish adults will consume enough beer, wine and hard alcohol to equal almost four gallons of 100 percent alcohol.

The study, performed in 2002, also found that Irish men and women are more likely than residents of any other Western European country to binge drink at least once a week.

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Irish culture in the U.S.



Irish culture and heritage have taken on a new identity in the United States.

  • Today, there are more people living in the U.S. who claim Irish ancestry than there are people living in Ireland, according to information from the U.S. Census Bureau.

  • 34.5 million Americans claim Irish ancestry. The current population of Ireland is 4.1 million.

  • Since 1820, 4.8 million immigrants from Ireland have been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence.

  • While it cannot be compared to the statistic on 100-percent alcohol from the study in Ireland, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that the amount of beer consumed in 2003 in America equaled 21.6 gallons per person among people ages 21 and older.

  • Americans sent 8 million Saint Patrick's Day cards in 2005, making the holiday the ninth-largest card-sending occasion in the U.S.

  • 93.3 million people last year said they planned to wear green on Saint Patrick's Day.


-Source: U.S. Census Bureau; the study "The Irish Drinking Culture"

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