From good times to destitution, the Irish continue to have an extreme relationship with alcohol.

'Seven Days' looks at the drinking habits of Irish people from the fun of the singing pubs to the desperation of alcoholics living on the streets. 

Alcohol is the Irish drug. At its worst it can leave hundreds of addicts with only the Simon Community to care for them. 

According to Dr Geoffrey Dean, Director of the Medico-Social Research Board, the idea of the Irish as heavy drinkers is held all over the world. For Dr Dean, a belief that is so widely held must have a solid basis in truth.

Drinking plays a very important part in our culture.

For many, drinking is a sign of manliness in Ireland. Evidence of the preoccupation with booze can be seen in the large proportion of income that is spent on it. According to Geoffrey Dean, 11.5% of all money earned in Ireland is spent on alcohol. Further evidence of the disturbing relationship the Irish have with drink is the number of admissions to mental hospitals, which are five times higher than they are in England and continue to rise. 

There is no doubt at all that the Irish man's mind appears to be easily disturbed by drinking which may be part of the reason why we have this reputation for being heavy drinkers.

Many of the problems, according to Geoffrey Dean, stem from the level of tolerance towards drinking. The attitude is that if you drink heavily you are just one of the boys. 

This episode of 'Seven Days' was broadcast on 17 November 1972. The reporter is John Feeney.

'Seven Days' began broadcasting on 26 September 1966 and was RTE television's flagship current affairs programme for ten years. The programme's young production team was made up of producer Lelia Doolan, directors Eoghan Harris and Dick Hill, and reporters John O'Donoghue, Brian Cleeve and Brian Farrell.

Muiris Mac Conghail became producer of 'Seven Days' in 1967 when the programme was merged with another current affairs programme, 'Division'.