September 26, 2013
Many Irish Not So Keen On Guinness Arthur’s Day Celebrations
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
In 2009 the world-renowned Guinness brewery in Ireland created “Arthur’s Day” to celebrate the first black stout beer ever poured by founder Arthur Guinness on September 26 some 250 years ago. In the four years since the first recognition of the pseudo-holiday, some Irish citizens are beginning to oppose the festivities and warn against dangerous drinking behavior.
Guinness’ parent company Diageo has made quite an event of Arthur’s Day, expanding it to 32 countries and hiring professional musicians to play large concerts in honor of the holiday. Last year, however, Dublin ambulances were busier during the week of Arthur’s Day than the week before.
One Irish folk singer has dubbed Arthur's Day an “alcoholiday” in a new protest song, and a Telegraph blogger even says the day rivals what St. Patrick's day has become across the world: just one more excuse for alcoholic excess. And still others are accusing Diageo of using Irish culture as a way to advertise and sell more Guinness.
For it's part, however, Diageo has defended the event as something authentically Irish.
"It's a fantastic example where we bring together three great things in Ireland - a great brand in Guinness, the pub, which is an iconic part of Irish culture, and music," explained a Diageo spokesperson during a local news radio broadcast.
"On Thursday, the vast majority of people will go out and enjoy all of those three things and enjoy them sensibly."
Shortly after the interview aired on RTE national radio, 74 percent of 7,000 listeners sent texts to the program saying they opposed Arthur’s Day.
Ireland’s Royal College of Physicians also opposes the pseudo-holiday. The nation is currently battling increasing alcohol abuse rates as deaths linked to drinking have nearly doubled since 1995. According to the Royal College, ambulances were called 30 percent more during Arthur’s day than the week prior. Over 2,000 hospital beds were also filled last September 26 with citizens who had enjoyed a few too many pints in celebration of Arthur Guinness' first pour.
"With high rates of alcohol consumption and binge drinking, we don't need another reason to drink," said Professor Frank Murray, the chairman of the Royal College’s alcohol policy group.
Following the backlash to Arthur’s Day, a Diageo spokesperson said they were surprised and would review the event going forward.
"Nothing is ever concrete. We'll be looking at it afterwards," said the spokesperson.
Despite the backlash, Diageo still has events planned for this evening as Irish people are expected to lift a glass to Arthur Guinness at 15:59. Pubs across Ireland and the world will play host to musicians such as Emeli Sande and the Manic Street Preachers. One Irish Folksinger, however, has written a scathing song just for the occasion. Christy Moore, herself alcohol free for 20 years, is the artist who coined the “Alcoholiday” phrase in her new song which was released today.
“Arthurs Alcoholiday is comin' round again/ He's the patron saint of porter canonised by the Advertisin' Men/ The medics in the ambulance 'll be workin overtime/ The A&E 'll be like a drunk tank in the firing line/ While Diageo goes AWOL at closing time,” sings Moore in the third verse of her new song.
“Arthur’s Day is so vile because it was dreamed up by PR folk at Diageo in 2009, but is presented as a longstanding tribute to the Guinness founder,” writes Telegraph tech blogger Mic Wright.
“It is 'celebrated' by a blitz of media and free gigs where Irish music fans have pints of the black stuff foisted on them while they listen to average indie bilge. This is Ireland as brand: Guinness is good for you and your nation, and you’d better not disagree.”