Sundays With Omar: Ireland’s Pub Tradition & a Bill to Curb Drinking


Curb your enthusiasm! The pub tradition… From the author’s photo collection.


I spent four months studying in Tully Cross, County Galway Ireland. I’ve spent the last 18 years wishing, every day, to be back in the thatched roof cottages and standing by the peat fire. So when I saw the following CNN article, my interest was piqued:


Ireland passes ‘groundbreaking’ bill to curb excessive drinking


The Tradition of the Public House

When I came upon the above article, the significance of the judicial process hit me immediately. The pub culture in Ireland is as much about hospitality as it is about pints. Pub is short for “public house”, and in their infancy a pub was a place for individuals to meet and converse. Also, for hundreds of years ales were safer to drink than water through much of western Europe. So, to say that drinking is interwoven in a particular culture is not necessarily insulting.


One only needs to think of the Americanized St, Patrick”s Day celebrations to imagine the importance in the context of the Irish. We as individuals and families share similar reason to drink. It’s my culture. It’s just what I do. It’s just who we are.


The simple truth is that it is possible for these ideas to be factually accurate and still have connections to addiction…


One way to look at addiction is that it is not about how much a person consumes, but rather how much they need to consume. So, we can examine if our reasons to drink are in fact excuses to drink.


Double rainbow – Tully Cross… From the author’s photo collection.

Taking a Long Look in the Mirror…

At the end of the day, if Ireland can take a long look at itself in the mirror and say, “We want to be healthy and honest as a people and a nation,” then certainly we can do that too. Ireland will certainly feel the effects in the tourism industry, with tax revenue, in the hospitality industry and other areas of national interest. But, the Irish Parliament decided that the expense to the health of the Irish people and the consequences to families, business, tourists and to the culture were too grave to ignore.


We may take 1000 days to decide how we want to respond to our own behaviors and addictions — or we can start today. But no one, nowhere, at no time is without the ability to work towards their own health. If an entire nation can do it, then so can we.


There’s a traditional Irish song that was played in the Pub on Sunday nights. The refrain was “and still only our rivers run free.” Like those rivers, I wish all of us that same freedom.

Omar Flores


Sanford House Addiction Treatment Centers

Omar Flores, LMSW, CAADC

Omar Flores, Sanford House Clinical Director, is tasked with developing dynamic, proven and personal treatment plans for Sanford House clients and staff members. He says, "The freedom to look at all options for substance abuse treatment and choose the approach that will most benefit every individual in the organization is unique to many treatment environments. I am excited to be a part of this dynamic team!" His bi-monthly column, "Sundays with Omar", gives his unique take on current events and media in the Behavioral Health field.