Twelve Pubs – Proceed with Caution

By Emma Darcy

One night, 12 pubs, 12 drinks and 12 rules. Participated in by the masses every Christmas, either in their own locality or in Dublin City, 12 pubs has become somewhat of a necessity in the run up towards Christmas, and it is often described by attendees as one of the best nights of the year.

However, with rules and regulations surrounding the evening, such as penalties for finishing a drink last, holding a drink in the wrong hand, swearing (the penalties being a shot no less), it can be a night full of pressure and drinking more than your body can handle.

Ignoring slagging from peers means participants can enjoy their evening with bottles instead of pints and even making sure to get the glasses of water in, which means the 12 pub goal might actually be in sight.

The question is, are we turning a blind eye to the dangerous ‘tradition’ which promotes a night of binge drinking, or are we ruining a fun once-a-year event with all this seriousness.

“The notion that you need to drink pints at the same pace as the person beside you is just naïve”

Miriam Taber of Drink Aware believes 12 pubs is not just harmless fun, and it is important to acknowledge the risks involved: “We know how different people’s bodies can react to alcohol, and the notion that you need to drink pints at the same pace as the person beside you is just naïve. There is no shame in not being able to “keep up” and there’s no reason why you can’t substitute a pint for a glass of water in every other pub. There is already a perception of Irish culture and our relationship with drinking and the whole twelve pubs thing just feeds into it.”

The  12 pubs tradition completely dismisses all guidelines and advice we know to be true when it comes to nights out drinking, but nobody wants to put a downer on a great night out: “Nobody is saying don’t go, there is no reason to miss a night out with your friends. It is all about knowing your limits and once you are aware of the way your body reacts to alcohol, you can easily enjoy it but not abuse it.” She said.

So, there it is, even though it’s difficult to recommend a night out that demands you drink 12 drinks, how could anybody miss out on one of the most festive and cheerful nights. So go and have fun, but know when to order a glass of water, know when to say no to a shot of baby Guinness and most importantly, know when you need to call it a night. 

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