In this extract Seamus Marken recalls the high levels of alcoholism among men when he was a child. He remembers a particular pub called Red Biddy's Shop which gave away a cheap glass of wine when you bought a stout or a pint. He remembers the drunken fights in the late evenings when the men would be leaving the pubs. He feels that this experience and these memories have influenced his own decision not to drink during his life. He feels that he saw too much of that, that there was too much drunkenness when he was a child.

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Is your life now any way like older people’s lives when you were younger, what you thought of…?

Ah, no. You see for instance I don’t drink and… you see I learned a lot about that because as I say… believe it or not I lived… on the right hand side there was a pub, on the left hand side there was a bookies shop and the life you’d see going by there would certainly put you off drinking… now, I even worked in the pub next door when the man, the assistant, used to be out sick I’d help out, and I must say I have to be honest with you I come from a long line of alcoholics on my mother’s side of the family, you know, I saw enough of it there and I saw men when they’d win a load of money in the bookies… where would they go? Straight into the pub and they'd go home staggering and falling around the place, I saw too much of that, there was an awful lot of drunkenness at that time when I was a young lad, maybe because I lived next door to the pub I saw it more than usual and then around the corner in Parnell Street there was what they called a red biddy’s shop which was the cheapest of wine, when you bought a glass of stout or a pint, that they gave you a glass of this red biddy, it used to send people mad and every Saturday night at 10 o’clock the man who owned the pub, a fella called Dan Wogan would literally throw them like that out in the back lane, we used to go round on Saturday nights to see the fights! You know? When I say ‘we’, it was mostly myself and some of the other guys, the rest of my family, they wouldn’t be out, they wouldn’t come out, they wouldn’t … you know…


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Ageing, Wisdom and Experience



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"Seamus Marken recalls the high levels of alcholism among men when he was a child.." Lifescapes: Mapping Dublin Lives, Item #160 (accessed February 21 2018, 7:21 am)