Life Under The Influence

Sunday 22 September 2019

‘Do you drink more since giving up work?’

Frank Sheridan saw retirement as an opportunity to be more active and healthy.
Frank Sheridan saw retirement as an opportunity to be more active and healthy.
Retired detective garda Dessie Brennan
Retired teacher Jim Hendry

Four retirees give their verdict on whether their drink consumption has increased since they retired.


“But honestly it’s not increased that much since I retired. I’ve always been quite a heavy social drinker and although I won’t tell you how much, I will say whoever came up with a weekly limit of 11 units had no idea how to party,” says Colette Lynch (58, pictured above) while enjoying an afternoon Margarita at her home in Nerja, Spain, where she runs a Creative Arts summer school (

“More than retirement, I think how much you drink is influenced by the environment in which you live. When I first left work and lived in Stockholm, I drank very little, but in Spain, the Spanish don’t drink much but the

ex-pats are all full!

“There’s also an onus on you to build a social network when you retire and one of the ways of doing that is over a drink. When you work it’s very organic, your colleagues are your social network.

“But retirement made me realise I didn’t want my life to just be about socialising. I wanted to contribute something, which is why I set up my summer school.”


“Going to live in Spain after retirement certainly increased my alcohol intake,” says Irishman abroad Jim Hendry (66). “It’s almost impossible not to have a drink or two most days thanks to a bigger circle of friends, being out for meals much more often and cheap bottles of Rioja in the sun.

“I find retirement very enjoyable as teaching had become an extremely stressful experience towards the end of my career. Early retirement gave me a new perspective on life and a chance to relax for the first time.

“However, if I’d to give up alcohol tomorrow, I wouldn’t be particularly fussed. As part of my social life I have it well under control — certainly not really exceeding the weekly recommended amounts — and my propensity for horrendous hangovers now means that my drinking has actually moderated in recent times.”


“When I retired, I saw it as an opportunity to be more active and healthy,” says Frank Sheridan (61), from Co Meath.

“It was a conscious decision that I would drink less and swim and walk more. When working, there were always work dos to go to and drinks in the pub after work. I’d say I probably would have been consuming around 20-25 units a week compared to six to eight now. Then and now, I’ve always been a Guinness man, but now I could go months without a pint and wouldn’t miss it.

“I was ready to retire and wanted to give leave the rigid 8.30am-to-5pm routine, but I still wanted to be doing something so I got involved in part-time network marketing (

“I’m much happier with life now and I’ve seen a real improvement on the scales since leaving full time employment.”


 “Five or six days a week, I’ve got sporting commitments — I manage a football team, Eadestown GAA — and that keeps me on the straight and narrow. You need to have your full senses about you for that, I couldn’t manage a team and be hungover,” says retired Detective Garda Dessie Brennan (65).

“I also have a big family and my health is important to them. Of course, the fact is that, even in sport, alcohol is a huge part of socialising. I’ve always enjoyed a drink and still do. I’d have a couple of nights out a week and I’m certainly partial to a drink at home so, honestly, I’d be above the weekly guidelines of 17 units.

“But I wouldn’t be able to have the same commitment to what I do if I let the drink take over. I didn't retire with nothing to do.”

Irish Independent

Editors Choice

Also in Life