In the Alan Lerner musical, Brigadoon (fictionally located in Scotland, another Gaelic nation), a small village comes alive every hundred years. I feel that way writing from Listowel, speaking at its annual Writers' Week.
Of course, Listowel is alive at all times, even if I only come here once a year. But it is one of the last remaining Irish local towns that an American might visit, due to this conference. In this place of 5,000 inhabitants, I stay at the Listowel Arms. From the rear of the hotel you look over a river and bridge leading to the large grass horseracing track. From the front you see the small town square, and beyond the church steeple, grassy hills.
(A note on cultural differences. One PT blogger insists there are no significant difference among world cultures. Everything I am interested in is impacted by culture.)
If God were designing a way of drinking, it wouldn't be the Irish way. The Irish have the lowest rate of daily drinking (2% of men) and the highest rate of binge drinking.(half of men) in Europe. Low levels of daily drinking prolong life and intellectual acuity; binge drinking accomplishes the reverse.
When you are introduced as an addiction expert in Ireland, people immediately begin reciting their alcoholic relations ("five of my uncles" . . . etc.). And the Irish are capable of being almost - I say almost - as Puritianical about alcohol as Americans (for example, Ireland is the only European nation where there are serious discussions about raising the drinking age to 21).