I recently went on a vacation to Ireland and while there ended up researching some of Ireland’s laws.  Researching while on vacation you ask? Well after a conversation with a local bartender in Galway City, I just had to know the truth. While out at a pub, a group of students who were French tourists came in asking for beer and wine. However, the bartender had just received notification from his boss to “not serve the French people.”   Some of the students were sixteen and the legal drinking age in Ireland is eighteen.  The bar thought the eighteen year olds were buying multiple drinks and passing it to their younger friends.  Fun fact, in France the legal drinking age for beer and wine is sixteen, so the sixteen year olds were not happy with their destinations drinking laws. However, because the bar owner had said “not to serve the French people,” Jennifer asked the bartender if Ireland had discrimination laws and that it seemed pretty exclusionary to just not serve the French people, and not just limit it to those who are underage. The bartender told her, “This is Ireland, we can do what we want, so we can.  We don’t have any laws like that and we can choose who we want to serve.”  In the end, the bartender was not correct. In fact, Ireland has discrimination laws very similar to those in the United States.  Irish law prohibits discrimination and promotes equality, Article 40.1 of the Constitution of Ireland states that “[a]ll citizens shall, as human persons, be held equal before the law.”

The Orieachtas, (another fun fact this is what the legislature of Ireland is called), which consists of The President of Ireland and two houses, the lower and upper house, passed a range of legislation called the Employment Equality Acts and the Equal Status Acts.  These prohibit discrimination in employment including access to vocational training and work experience and also prohibit discrimination in goods, facilities, services, accommodation and education. Similar to the United States discrimination laws, the nine grounds these laws cover are:

  • Gender-male, female or transsexual
  • Civil Status – single, married, civil partnership, divorced, widowed..etc
  • Family Status Ground – pregnancy, parent of someone under 18, parent of someone with disability
  • Sexual Orientation Ground- heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual
  • Religion ground
  • Age ground
  • Disability ground- includes all physical, sensory and intellectual disability
  • The Race Ground- a particular race, skin color, nationality or ethnic or national origin
  • Membership of Traveller community – Travellers are identified historically with nomadic way of life on island of Ireland.

So this issue that popped up fell under the Race Ground and clearly would not go over well if taken up in court!

pic 2

Blarney Castle, County Cork, Ireland (Yes, I did kiss the Blarney Stone!)

Also, based on the stories and depictions of Ireland, most people are shocked to learn that their alcohol laws are stricter than those of the United States.  The legal age to purchase alcohol is eighteen, unless they are in a domestic home and have parental consent.  Like Indiana, the entire country of Ireland has a prohibition on Happy Hours, or selling alcohol at reduced prices for a limited period during any day.  Under the Road Traffic Act 2010, the legal limit to drive is .50mgs of alcohol per 100mgs of blood for experienced drivers, and .20mgs of alcohol per 100mgs of blood in the case of new and professional drivers.

Irelands oldest brewery, Smithwicks brewery, is traced back to the 13th century monks who settled at St. Francis Abbey and began brewing beer out of necessity because of the poor water quality. In 1537, Henry VIII introduced Reformation and the dissolution of Irish monasteries began and the Abbey was forced to close its doors. In the 1700’s John Smithwick moved to Kilkenny, but penal laws and being catholic made it impossible for a catholic to own property, running for elected office or entering the forces of law.  Richard Cole allowed John Smithwick to use his name as a front and opened a small brewery in 1710.  It wasn’t until 1800, when Ed Smithwick bought the brewery that the Smithwick name could finally be used.   Slowly the brewery started gaining popularity and in 1964 Guinness & Co bought a controlling share in the business to use their expertise of sales.  During its first year with Guinness 11,500 barrels were sold but by 1979 a half a million barrels were sold each year.

pic 3

Guinness Brewery – Dublin, Ireland

Guinness Brewery, has an interesting side story itself, Arthur Guinness went to Dublin in 1759 and signed a 9000 year lease at £45 per year (which is still at St. James Gate!)  on a dilapidated brewery at St. Jame’s Gate and starts to brew ale. In 1799, porter gained popularity so Arthur stopped brewing ales and concentrated on perfecting the bold, black beer.  Thus, starting the path for the world’s most popular porter, Guinness.  The brewery now covers over 50 acres and the original lease was only for 4.  Therefore, the 1759 lease is no longer valid as the Company purchased the lands outright many years ago.  However, legally, the lease probably never was valid as it may be seen as unconscionable to make someone sign a 9,000 year lease!

Sources used: