Ireland passes stiff (no pun intended) laws against drinking, Irish President Mary McAleese calling her fellow countrymen's attitude to drink "unhealthy" and "sinister" ( which means 8 out 10 Irish are sinister :-) ).
This is very interesting: it's like cutting down half their social life. When I was a wee lad in Dublin a few months ago, the eerie silences and loneliness on the streets on normal weekdays after 7.00 pm was very unsettling at first. It struck me that if I ever was in a crowd in Dublin in the evening, I had to be in a bar (which is not a very rare commodity there). Not even attempting to drink Guinness rightfully brought a scorn to the faces of my hosts. I didn't make the pilgrimage to the local Guinness factory (so no free samples to taste), but I couldn't go all the way and back without stepping into one of the holy places. I walked near Temple Bar but I went in to the nearest pub (on the last day of my visit) accompanied by European colleagues celebrating the beginning of the St. Patrick's Day weekend. I had a red lemonade there (apparently another local curiosity) which made sharp contrast to the mugs of golden and black liquid swilling around. What is it like inside? : it is noisy, musical, smoke-filled and ok, ok, spirited.