School chaplain hits out over teen drinking culture

A school chaplain has spoken out against the long-term effects of an alcohol abuse culture where young people cannot enjoy a night out without “getting seriously langers”.

Fr Tomas O’Caoimh also called for a more responsible attitude among parents who may themselves have difficulties with alcohol.

“Monkey see, monkey do — what else do young people see but a drink culture, often beginning at home and being introduced to them younger and younger,” he said.

Fr O’Caoimh outlined his concerns about excessive drinking during a homily in St Brendan’s Church, Tralee, Co Kerry.

He referred to a recent study completed by University College Cork which discovered about 66% of students confessed to hazardous drink consumption.

“I had direct experience of this over Christmas, hearing about the custom of the Twelve Pubs of Christmas — people drinking at least one drink in each of 12 pubs in the town all in a few hours, getting completely locked, and all in the name of celebrating Christmas,” he said.

On St Stephen’s Night, he said, 22 buses made their way to Dingle, ferrying over 1,000 young people. Most of them, he believed, had been drinking before they set out for Dingle at all.

“It seems now that you can’t enjoy a night out without getting seriously langers and the long-term effects of this are truly frightening,” Fr O’Caoimh said.

“As a society, we need to have a serious debate and conversation about the effect of sustained and serious drinking in our society and especially by young men and women,” he said.

“So many of our young people go out at night to get absolutely locked, rather than just to enjoy a drink or two with friends, and they have no memory the following day of the night before.”

Fr O’Caoimh, who is also chaplain to Mercy Mounthawk Secondary School in Tralee, said he was worried about teenagers being introduced to alcohol earlier and earlier, often with a first introduction at home from parents who he said really should know better and who perhaps have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol themselves.

“No wonder students struggle at school and have difficulty with study and exams, with sports and pastimes, the drink culture blots out all that they can enjoy and achieve during their teenage years,” he said.

He asked how third-level students could get up in the morning and face lectures and tutorials and get any study done, and also questioned where they were getting the money from.

He said yesterday that he had received a lot of positive reaction to his sermon and that parishioners told him he had raised matters that needed to be addressed.

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