The Emerald Isle's version of St. Patrick's Day is facing a strong backlash.
Today, pubs across Ireland are set to celebrate Arthur's Day, a country-wide party and Guinness marketing creation invented in 2009 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Arthur Guinness, the inventor of the famous black stout. Though kitschy in its creation, the event drew huge crowds, and this year's party features almost 1,000 musicians, including The Script and Janelle Monae. It's not hard to see why a holiday celebrating Guinness is popular in a country where the No. 1 tourist attraction is The Guinness Storehouse. Irish and non-Irish alike — President Obama included — happily down the famed stout.
But despite Guinness's warnings, they don't always drink responsibly. The rampant drunkenness and debauchery of Arthur's Day has some sober Irishmen in a huff, and not without reason. Last year's event saw a 30% increase in alcohol-related ambulance calls in Dublin city centre, according to alcohol-related charity Alcohol Action Ireland. Minister of State with Responsibility for Alcohol and Drugs Alex White called the event from drink-maker Diageo "contrived," "a pseudo-national holiday," and a "serious problem." A physician compared the party to the "last days of Sodom and Gomorrah" in an interview with The New York Times.
And it's not just prohibition-like crusaders criticizing the event. Popular Irish folk singer Christy Moore released a biting song today, with lyrics like: "Arthurs Alcoholiday is comin' round again/ He's the patron saint of porter canonized by the Advertisin' Men/ The medics in the ambulance will be working overtime." Mike Scott of The Waterboys added more musical criticism with his "A Song For Arthur's Day," too. That growing animosity toward the event was solidified in a decidedly unscientific
BBC News radio show's poll that found 74% of listeners opposed Arthur's Day, according to BBC News.
If the stereotype of the Irish drunkard downing Guinness in a dank pub has some factual basis, these critics face quite the uphill battle. So if they succeed, let's all raise a glass their way.
(Photo of Obama: AP.)