I was at a Christy Moore concert last week and he was in great form and voice. He encouraged us all to sing along, which we did with gusto. A very enjoyable concert was made even more so, in my opinion, by this fact: it was held in a local school and was an alcohol-free venue.

Now, before you roll your eyes and think I’m going to go on an anti-drink rant, I’m not. I enjoy a drink, love going out for dinner with a nice bottle of wine and have drank many a plastic cup of mediocre wine before concerts. But I have recently started to question the appropriateness of drink being available during actual events and the impact that has on my enjoyment (and others).

13,000 fans

I was at an Elton John concert in the 3Arena in March. Elton was fantastic and had a full house of 13,000 fans singing along. What spoiled it for me was people coming and going from their seats all through the concert. They were either going out for another drink or going to the loo because of the drink.

Either way, I had to stand up every 10 minutes to let someone in or out of the row. During the summer, The Saw Doctors in the Big Blue Tent (in Galway) was a standing event and we were dancing and singing and having the craic. The amount of people around me trying to hold full plastic glasses of beer while dancing resulted in lots of beer being spilled - and very little of it was on the person holding the glass.

When I’ve mentioned this, I’ve been told, “Sure, it’s always been like that.”

Well, actually it hasn’t. I’m not sure when it became normal to drink during an event, but it’s probably in the last 12 to 15 years. I’ve been going to concerts for more years than I care to remember and had many a drink before and after - but not during the actual event.


Theatres and venues like the National Concert Hall, to the best of my knowledge, still don't allow you to bring a drink in your seat. Most offer a service where you can order a drink to be ready for the interval, so no one is going to pass out with thirst.

And it’s not limited to music concerts that drink is served during an event. At many rugby grounds, including the Aviva, fans are allowed to bring drinks to their seats while the game is on. Interestingly, at soccer games, only those in premium level seats can drink during international games.

Earlier this year, the IRFU released the results of a survey of 744 supporters over the age of 18 on their experience attending rugby games at the Aviva. On the issue of alcohol being served, 68% would not support a ban on alcohol being taken to seats during matches. Only 25% felt people getting up and down for drinks diminished their experience. I guess I’m in that 25%. Mind you, considering the stadium has a capacity of 51,700, the survey only asked 1% of those who would be at a game.

You cannot bring drinks back to your seats in Croke Park. I have been to many matches (Mayo do keep getting to play there!) and the craic before the game and during the interval is only mighty. Supporters from the various teams chat, slag each other and have a few drinks. I honestly don't see the need to bring a drink back to my seat and, to be honest, I’m usually so vested in the game that I don’t even think about it.

I know sponsorship by drinks companies is the reason many events have bars serving throughout the event. I’m not in the business of organising such huge events, but I am paying a considerable sum for a ticket and I’d like to enjoy it without drink being spilled on me or being disturbed by the constant stream of people going to and from the bar. Cheers!

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