DUBLIN — Bars across Ireland will be thronged Thursday with early evening drinkers. Groups of inebriated young people will be staggering around the streets, and hospital emergency rooms will be packed.
No, it is not St. Patrick’s Day. It is Arthur’s Day — an annual paean to Guinness first concocted by marketing gurus in 2009 to promote the 250th anniversary of the drink so intimately associated with Ireland. But to a growing chorus of critics, it is becoming a national embarrassment.
Diageo, the multinational company that owns the Guinness brand, says the shindig brings together three celebrated strands of Irish culture: Guinness, the pub, and music.
The company is promoting the 1759 anniversary year to encourage people to be in a bar by 5:59 p.m. to raise a glass to Arthur — that’s Arthur Guinness, the brewery’s founder.
Diageo’s critics say that it is all an empty ritual aimed at promoting the company’s brands and that there is nothing to celebrate in binge drinking. Although Diageo is at pains to emphasize a message of drinking responsibly, there were reports of a 30 percent increase in ambulance calls in central Dublin after last year’s event.