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7 Famous Irishmen with Unlucky Drinking Tales

It’s time to put on some green, trot out the Guinness, and get lucky–don’t use your Irish heritage as an excuse for drinking and driving, though. As a friendly reminder to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day responsibly, here are seven famous Irishmen and women who probably should have swapped those last few pints of green beer for a Shamrock Shake instead.

Mel Gibson

Gibson, who was named after Irish saints, once admitted to drinking five pints of beer for breakfast. Despite several attempts at professional help, he's racked up two DUIs: one in 1984 and the more infamous one in 2006.

Mischa Barton

Although Barton has officially renounced her Irish citizenship, she still considers herself an English-Irish girl. That might explain why the rules of the road confused The O.C. star in 2007 when she was charged with a DUI and driving without a valid license.

John Denver

Did you know the "country roads" Colorado's favorite son was singing about were in Ireland? It was the Aspen roads, however, that got him into trouble. He was charged with a DWAI in 1993 and ran his Porsche off the road in a DUI arrest the following year.

Lindsay Lohan

If the red locks didn't give it away, Lohan is of well-documented Irish descent on both sides. Her battle with substance abuse has been equally well-documented, and she's earned two DUIs, an alcohol-monitoring bracelet, plenty of time in rehab, and Oprah as a mentor in the last.

Mickey Rourke

Not only does Rourke have "Glowing Emerald Blood" in his veins, he's also played a former IRA (Irish Republican Army) member in A Prayer for the Dying and has an IRA symbol tattooed on his arm. Much less rebellious was his 2007 arrest for drunk driving—on a Vespa.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers

The native Irish actor has publicly struggled with alcoholism for years, but it's airports that seem to bring out the worst in him. Not only was he once banned from a flight after drinking too much vodka at breakfast, but he was also arrested for being drunk and disorderly at Dublin Airport in 2007 and again at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport in 2009. The latter incident escalated when he punched a waiter and then proceeded to threaten the lives of the arresting officers. Thankfully, Rhys Meyers claims to have given up partying and has been working hard over the past two years to get his addiction under control.

Matthew McConaughey

Don't let that Texas drawl fool you; this Oscar-winner apparently has loads of t-shirts that say "Ireland" on them—which is all the proof of Celtic identity we need. In 1999, McConaughey was arrested at a house party for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia; the charges were eventually dropped, but we include this one as a warning not to drive stoned either—especially if you plan on "dancing around in the buff and playing bongo drums" at some point during the festivities.


In exploring the intriguing and often tragic narratives of seven famous Irishmen and their unlucky drinking tales, it becomes evident that the cultural association between Ireland and alcohol is deeply woven into the fabric of their stories. From literary giants like Brendan Behan to iconic musicians like Shane MacGowan, each figure grappled with the darker side of Ireland’s drinking culture, facing personal struggles and societal expectations. These narratives serve as cautionary tales, illustrating the fine line between the romanticized image of Irish conviviality and the harsh realities of alcohol-related challenges. While some managed to overcome their demons, others succumbed to the destructive nature of excessive drinking, leaving behind a complex legacy that sheds light on the multifaceted relationship between Irish identity and the allure, and sometimes the peril, of the pub.

Do you have further questions or concerns? Call us or contact the attorneys at Thomas & Ahnell, LLC, and we will be happy to help.

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