The demise of the country pub gets the ink flowing
Last week's defence of the rural pub by Paidi O Se brought an unusually large response from our readers. Here we publish a selection of those letters
Sir -- I welcome very seriously the timely and sensible warning from Paidi O Se in the Sunday Independent.
I hope very sincerely that all rural dwellers and those in authority who have so seriously contributed to the demise of our traditional rural lifestyle will quickly contribute to a sensible return to a redevelopment of rural life which has been developed over several centuries.
Our rural lifestyle has never depended exclusively on the local rural pub. It has, however, made a substantial contribution both as a meeting place and centre for community policy-making and a frequent centre for the start of community finance. Let's keep it safe.
Sir -- Paidi O Se is wrong to attribute the invention of concentration camps to the British during the Boer War. The concept was Spanish.
In their struggle to retain Cuba in 1895, the idea of concentrating the civilian population in one place, 'Reconcentration,' made them easier to control. The Spanish finally withdrew from Cuba in 1898, the Boer War was from 1899 to 1902 .
Old Windsor, Berkshire,
Sir -- Paidi O Se comes across as just another whining, whinging publican talking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time.
On the one hand, he says that people in rural parts should be allowed to have a few pints in the local pub at nighttime and drive themselves home -- while on the other he says nobody should drink and drive.
But it's not the drink drive issue that has destroyed Irish pubs -- the pub owners did the damage themselves when they decided to plant a TV screen in every nook and corner of their premises. That's the reason their customers have walked away. People go to the pub for a chat and a laugh, not to have TV sports programmes shoved in their faces.
In their greed for money, the publicans have put the final nail in their own coffin -- now they're suffering the backlash. They took the people for fools once too often.
Balbriggan, Co Dublin
Sir -- Paidi O Se may be right about the dying spirit of rural Ireland. I'm afraid it's the price we pay for the success of the anti-alcohol campaign, who measure that success by the crude statistic of reducing the amount of alcohol consumed per head of Ireland's population. So, whether we are the majority who can consume alcohol with benefit to our lives, or the small minority who can't, we are all equally targeted. (Imagine if similar logic were used for other activities that involve some risk to our safety -- let's reduce the number of people who go driving, swimming, mountaineering . . .)
And so a very sophisticated, vigorous but dishonest campaign, playing fast and loose with the evidence, has persuaded most of us that the ludicrous notion that "even one drink will impair your driving" is a "scientific fact".
Not true. There is no credible evidence that a mature person can not drive home safely after two or three pints. Interestingly the RSA's own statistics, (for the three years, 2003-2005, that they've managed to collect them), show that not one person aged between 65 and 70, with any amount of alcohol in them, was involved in a fatal collision.
But that doesn't matter to the anti-alcohol campaign. Every closed pub is another success. Keep it up, Paidi.
Kilcolgan, Co Galway
Sir -- I refer to an article by Paidi O Se where he writes: "I have to say without any equivocation that I do not condone drink-driving in any shape or form . . ." and then adds "there are many thousands of people who can enjoy two or three drinks at most and drive carefully a few miles down the road from the pub back to their home".
Well, which is it to be? You can't have it both ways.
I know you will probably tip Dublin and Kerry to become All-Ireland champions this year, but real life and death are not always that simple; sometimes we have to make responsible choices. Many young people in both the towns and throughout the countryside have luckily gotten the message and simply don't drink and drive (as indeed I did on too many occasions when I was young). They make the responsible choice, consequently the number of road fatalities has decreased over the last few years. Didn't you know this, Paidi? Do you even care?
Furthermore, I deem it a frightful slight on the intelligence of all country people to compare the plight of those unfortunates "who survived the Gulag, concentration camps, and other places of terrible extremities", to the man who has to get a taxi to the public house.
And aren't we the little scholar, Paidi; having read a book on the subject you explain that "concentration camps (invented, incidentally, by the British during the Boer War)". There were two Anglo-Boer Wars, Paidi.
But sure isn't the fabric of rural life safe in your hands, Paidi, and can be drained from the bottom of a pint glass in your own little pubeen.
Sutton, Dublin 13