Neknomination ‘just one small aspect’ of Ireland’s harmful drinking culture

FOLLOWING ON FROM the death of 19-year-old Jonny Byrne who took part in the ’neknomination’ drinking game, Alcohol Action Ireland has warned that the fad is just symptomatic of Ireland’s drinking problem and new games like this will follow.


The social media craze was started in Australia but it quickly spread to England and Ireland with young people uploading videos of themselves downing pints and then nominating friends to do the same. As the game gained popularity, those taking part started to include stunts in the videos, trying to outdo their friends.

Byrne went into the river Barrow as part of his nekomimation but did not make it out. Another young man, 22-year-old Ross Cummins from Dublin, died over the weekend and his death has also been linked to alcohol.

There have been strong calls from groups and government officials for an end to this game. While he urged young people to stop participating in it, Conor Cullen of Alcohol Action Ireland told that “there’ll be another neknomination after this – another game of this kind”.

Drinking culture

He said the acceptance here of drinking to excess “provides a culture for something like this to take hold”.

It’s no coincidence that the countries in which it proved most popular and most harmful are three countries where there is a binge drinking culture.

“We have an environment here where binge drinking and drinking in a harmful manner is normalised. ”

Cullen said we “shouldn’t be surprised” that the game caught on in Ireland so quickly as young people here live in an environment where alcohol is cheap and they are constantly targeted by advertising – on television, at sports events and on social media.

The bigger issue

Three people a day die of an alcohol related illness, 2,000 hospital beds are occupied a night because of it and it costs the government nearly €4 billion a year, he pointed out.

“It’s a massive issue and has been a massive issue, as a society, neknomination is just one small aspect of the kind of thing that can take hold here,” he explained. “Things like this will come and go but the problem remains.”

Even if no one else participates in this game, a huge amount may still binge drink and all the other behaviour like accidents, injuries, sexual assault will still be there.

Cullen urged young people not to take part in the game and to consider the impact of binge drinking on their physical and mental health.

Yesterday, the family of Jonny Byrne appealed for people to end this craze now, before the loss of any more lives. His father, Joe Byrne said:

“It has cost my son his life and our lives will never be the same again. I hope this message is heeded. For us life is virtually over.”