You gotta love the Irish.
My husband and I went to Ireland several years ago for a milestone birthday. We fell in love with the place and the people. Gorgeous emerald expanses, breathtaking views, and a pub on every corner. Our kind of place.
Irish villages, no larger than a wide spot in the road, have more pubs than the town’s population. At any time of day, the pubs are filled with locals enjoying a pint. How did we know this? We were enjoying a pint alongside them.
One thing about Ireland we didn’t’ enjoy was the roads. Sure, they took us to magically delicious places, but most of the roads outside of Dublin are rutted and narrow and those wacky Irishmen decided it would be fun to stump American tourists by driving on the wrong side of the road. Irishmen are known for their sense of humor.
Hundreds of years ago, out in the Irish countryside, farmers took on the backbreaking task of clearing boulders for their horse carts. Since the damn boulders were so heavy, they simply stacked them into walls lining the paths. A nice benefit of the road clearing was, voila . . . walls. Ergo, the two-lane country roads are the same width as a horse cart with little or no shoulder. Heaven forbid you get stuck behind a tractor or Irishman herding sheep up the road. You might as well sit back, open a beer, and sing Irish chanties because no way, no how, are you going to pass them.
An article in the paper today about my beloved Ireland and her beer-swilling citizens made me laugh.
“Councilmen in Kerry, southwest Ireland, passed a motion this week asking the government to create a permit that would allow isolated farmers the ability to drink a few pints and then return home in their cars, or on their tractors, without fear of being busted.”
“Its backers say the measure is needed to combat an epidemic of boredom and depression on farms ever since Ireland imposed new blood-alcohol limits on drivers in 2011.”
It isn’t a surprise that the motion was shot down in the Parliament as being “grossly irresponsible.” The Justice Minister is a real buzz kill.
“A generation ago, drunken driving was commonplace in Ireland, and even the smallest villages or forlorn crossroads featured a pub. But in this century the country has steadily improved road safety standards, introducing mandatory driving tests, blood and breath tests and above all a penalty-points system that removes licenses from dangerous drivers, particularly drunks.”
“The effort has slashed road-related deaths from more than 400 annually in the l990s to just 162 last year.”
“Kerry pub owners say their business has plummeted right along with that nationwide carnage . . . They describe the often narrow, lightly trafficked roads near their businesses as safe for people to navigate even after three British pints (about 57 U.S. ounces total) of beer.”
To put things in perspective, three British pints is roughly one beer shy of a six-pack.
This is where I snorted in an unbecoming manner:
“ . . . Kerry’s most famous and flamboyant political family says farmers should be able to drive tipsy on their tractors because they don’t go fast enough to kill anyone.”
I wish I could type with an Irish accent in sharing this line from the article with you.
“Pub-loving farmers are living in isolated rural areas where there’s no public transport of any kind. They end up at home looking at the four walls, night in and night out, because they don’t want to take the risk of losing their license.”
As if Irish roads aren’t challenging enough, let’s fill them with imbibed farmers on tractors.