Every nationality or ethnic group is subject to stereotyping, and while some stereotypes can be demeaning or hateful, most are relatively harmless and usually cited in jest.
Most people accept that there is a modicum of truth to many stereotypes and there is evidence that people of all nationalities tend to contribute, at one time or another, to perpetuating the stereotypes that they at other times claim to find objectionable.
Just as individuals have traits they refuse to acknowledge, I guess we can also be in a state of denial about our collective, ethnic foibles.
As an Irishman I know that we must assume a good portion of the blame for the heavy drinking stereotype.
While the Irish generally respond to the label with good humor, even the most benign stereotype becomes grating and offensive if people assume that those labels are the sum of who we are.
And while we Irish may have no one to blame but ourselves for the stereotypical image of excessive drinking, we also know that in the midst of enjoying a drink there are other meaningful and valuable things happening that those outside the culture don’t readily recognize.
From an outside perspective, all one might see is that the Irish drink a lot and frequent their local pub daily. However, the daily visit to the pub on the way home from work or in the evening, is not about drunkenness, it is about having a pint or two while enjoying humor and topical conversation.
Guinness and Kilbeggan Whiskey are not the only things for which the Irish have an appetite: we also enjoy animated conversation, music, song and poetry, all of which contribute to the complex dynamic of the culture that often finds expression in the uninhibited atmosphere of the pub.
As I said above, members of every nationality occasionally reinforce common stereotypes and a situation that supports that position happened in large measure in Dublin recently.
It is a long-standing custom that Diageo, the company that produces Guinness and other well-known beers, donates 120 kegs of beer annually to the office of the Mayor of Dublin.
According to a story in the National Post, the current Mayor of Dublin, Nial Ring, who assumed the office last June, ran through his 120-keg allotment, approximately 10,500 pints, by early January 2019 and then called out to the Diageo Company for back up and Diageo generously responded by providing an additional 70 Kegs.
Mayor Ring is a man with the common touch who likes to entertain his constituents so the additional 70 kegs only got the Mayor’s office to March, when City Council and Irish taxpayers had to pick up a tab of $22,500 for another 71 kegs.
Of course, many Irish people admonished Mayor Ring for perpetuating the most enduring of Irish stereotypes by allowing such excessive consumption of Guinness and other beers.
However, when interviewed about the matter, Mr. Ring expressed a decidedly un-stereotypical position in these political correct times, and instead of sounding contrite, he took the opportunity to give a shout out to other breweries that might be willing to donate more kegs.
“If any of them would like to give me a call and throw in a few kegs, I’ll certainly be able to get through them and I’ve proven that,” he said.
While Mayor Nial Ring may be perpetuating the Irish stereotype, he seems to genuinely possess the excess and generous abandon personified in that stereotype, making Mr. Ring more authentic than stereotypical.