History of Irish Car Bombs Isn’t Something to Drink To



While studying abroad in Ireland, the Irish made it quite apparent to me what they thought of Americans. I was constantly questioned as to why we Americans have such a warped view of what Ireland and Irish culture really is. Almost every Irish person I met would complain to me about Americans coming to Ireland and claiming that they were Irish when they had some great grandfather that grew up there and that’s it. They all laughed at the band Flogging Molly, which in Ireland basically means Raping Molly. If you want to listen to what Irish people listen to, then look up Crazy Frog; it had the number one song for a month there.

The number one beer sold in Ireland is Budweiser, not Guinness. Guinness is considered an old man’s drink there. There are many other things as well, but the biggest issue, in my opinion, is the drink that many people will be drinking here in America on St. Patrick’s Day: the Irish Car Bomb.

While I was abroad my American roommate tried to order an Irish Car Bomb at the bar. The bartender just stared at him and told him they don’t sell them. My roommate was confused, until I reminded him what a car bomb means to Irish people. Car bombs in Ireland are no fun thing.

Car bombs were a major weapon in the Irish Republican Army’s fight against Northern Ireland. The car bomb’s biggest deployment by the IRA was on Friday, July 21, 1972, in a major attack on Belfast in Northern Ireland. They used 22 car bombs on the city on that day, which was known forever after as Bloody Friday. As one person described the day, “At the height of the bombing, the center of Belfast resembled a city under artillery fire; clouds of suffocating smoke enveloped buildings as one explosion followed another, almost drowning out the hysterical screams of panicked shoppers.” The attack caused significant damage not only to Northern Ireland but also to the IRA.

Bloody Friday destroyed much of the IRA’s heroic underdog popular image, produced deep revulsion amongst ordinary Catholics and eventually led to major changes in the IRA. Before this, the British were the ones committing the horrible atrocities. After this attack, the British received a major reprieve from the worldwide condemnation they were getting beforehand.

This is a very controversial subject to say the least; there are many that feel Bloody Friday was completely justified. Regardless, please know the history of the Irish Car Bomb before you go thinking you are paying a tribute to Ireland by drinking one. If you are in full support of the IRA and what it has done for Ireland then I could kind of see how drinking an Irish Car Bomb could be paying proper tribute. But before you go do that, you might want to look up the history of the IRA and decide from there.

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21 Responses to History of Irish Car Bombs Isn’t Something to Drink To

  1. jmbo Reply

    March 17, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Irish is as Irish does. You all are trolls.

  2. jmbo Reply

    March 17, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Irish is as Irish does.

  3. Ryan Reply

    March 1, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Lol at getting offended by a drink name. I prefer to drink Holocaustails at my local jewish bar.

    • John dearden Reply

      April 16, 2013 at 4:58 pm

      Ryan you sir are my hero!,Top drawer.

  4. Bill Reply

    February 26, 2013 at 9:11 am

    It is fairly funny that the author included that the Irish laugh at the “Irish Americans” for listening to such musical acts as Flogging Molly when the lead singer, Dave King, is from Dublin and some of their albums are recorded there. And by the way, if you want something to laugh at, please check out crazy frog on youtube, talk about an uncultured ridiculous video of a cartoon frog, and that was what was chart topping in Ireland? As Shane MacGowan stated, “The harp that once in Tara’s hall is burning in the dump.” I am pretty sure that he is referencing the shift away from Irish trad music (burning in the dump) towards the pop techno crap that crazy frog so unfortunately represents. At least the real Irish Americans are keeping the music and song of Ireland alive on the other side of the pond, I hate articles that bash Irish Americans and throw us all into one melting pot with the other f@#*#n eejits that dance around with green plastic derbys on St Patrick’s Day drinking car bombs. There are a lot of good Irish Americans who have supported all Irish causes and we should not be chastised for listening to Dropkick Murphys or Flogging Molly or any other so called “Irish American” band. This author thinks it is funny that Irish Americans could possibly like a band as “horrible” or “ridiculous” as Flogging Molly because they are not “real Irish”. You obviously just don’t get the Irish American subculture, we have our own cultural identity now and we are not concerned about keeping up with shit techno and pop trends from the motherland. Flogging Molly, Black 47, and Dropkick Murphys is for us, the Irish Americans, who have been brought up in this land by Immigrants. It is a unique genre of music that is all our own. I am sorry that you don’t understand this but don’t flip your nose at us because we do.

    • your man Reply

      April 9, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      This article is from 2007. That Crazy frog song was a ring tone and was top of the charts because people were buying the ring tone for their phones. Flogging Molly are known among a few here but they’re just not a big band, not that anyone would turn their noses up at them. The author is clueless. If Budweiser is the most popular beer then it’s because it’s cheap to buy in the shops, not many buy it in pubs. Of the pubs I frequent it’s usually Guinness or Heineken being drank. I wouldn’t take Shane McGowans words so seriously, he is after all a raging alcoholic. Nearly everyone I know, no matter how cultured, listen to Irish classics- perhaps not reels and jigs you true Irish (Americans) listen to but the Dubliners and Planxty; and Christy Moore has never been so famous. I agree the Irish American is it’s own culture with it’s own past times and shouldn’t look to Ireland as it’s big brother it needs to impress as after all there are 40 million of you to 6 million of us. I couldn’t tell if you were berating the author, the Irish or both but it seemed you were turning your nose up at our culture for listening to ‘uncultured’ ‘techno’ music, which is basically you grouping the whole of Ireland into one group- the same way that you feel you are put into the Irish American ‘melting pot’, it’s quite hypocritical really. There’s no evidence that we listen to uncultured techno bar this article, which I already stated earlier the author is clueless

  5. pouringpro Reply

    November 27, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    I was thinking about the Car Bomb. I was thinking about the Kamikazi. I was thinking about the Depth Charge. I was thinking about December 7th. I was thinking about Veterans Day. I was thinking about wars worldwide across time and the losses to us all of family and friends. I was thinking about St. Patricks Day. I saw millions of people, Mothers, Fathers, Sons and Daughters, lifting Car Bombs ( now) or Depth Charges( in the past)and toasting each other in happiness and peace. I saw millions worldwide on St Patricks Day,of all countries and creeds, lifting glasses,their voices joined together All At Once. And then they did it again and again, all day long. I stared amazed at the incredible positve energy created in that closeness of humanity. If toasting Car Bombs can pause the World in Peace for brief moments until the time that Wars are ended, then I will always raise a glass; Car Bomb, Depth Charge or Kamikazi and enjoy the closeness that it brings.

  6. Bryan Reply

    August 22, 2012 at 6:16 am

    Is this supposed to be journalism? Awful! Agree completely with Meh

  7. Bruno Reply

    February 9, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    What can you lads tell me about the Cromwellian Land Adventurers? (circa 1642) I have a suspicion that I may be a direct descendant of one of those blokes. Blimey!

  8. Meh Reply

    January 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    What a bias and inaccurate argument (Crazy frog? Lol). Im Irish (born here, grew up in the north) and have no problem with the cocktail itself, although would like to point out that car bombs are not in any respect a uniquely Irish phenomenon (sadly, they have been used around the world by various groups)! Surely if we were were to apply the same standards across the board, we would also be taking offence at any product associated with violence? For example, Agent Orange, the cocktail named after the chemical weapons used by the American military against the Vietnamese.

    By all means – order are car bomb cocktail, but if you wish to avoid offence then please don’t prefix it with “Irish”. This comes across a little condescending especially if your from USA which is constantly blowing the shit out of the Middle East, not to mention a domestic gun crime rate to match the darkest days of the troubles. Don’t get involved in local politics by trivialising the troubles – how would Americans react to the trivialising 9/11 by naming a sandwich after it?

    Barmen who refuse to serve the “irish car bomb” cocktail may do so for a variety of reasons: they simply don’t know it, they feel the name is disrespectful towards victims/glorifies violence, they maybe they just don’t like you… Who knows? They may, understandably, feel that the name is not in keeping with a modern, post-conflict Ireland seeking to grow its economy through tourism and investment. Alternatively, they may feel the cocktail to be racist (stereotyping the Irish), or it could even be for some other personal reason which I am not aware of… I am not an American, I do not assume be an authority on everything – not even my own country!

    Ireland is still, sadly, a divided country with deeply complex political issues especially in relation to matters of partition. Indeed there are various (often conflicting) hues of political opinion within the respective ‘Catholic’ and ‘Protestant’ communities, which as an American (even an ‘Irish American’) you cannot begin to understand – especially given the hugely bias media coverage of the issue. So, just because you may have spent a few months in Ireland with Peace Corps or People to People, or maybe have even had the craic and drank a pint of Guinness, this does not qualify you an authority on the country or the psychology of the nation.

    • Bruno Reply

      February 9, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      Go raibh maith agat!

    • Cian Reply

      November 3, 2012 at 5:55 am

      You’re calling him biased and inaccurate and then saying the same thing he is.

      There’s no such thing as a “car bomb cocktail”, there’s a cocktail called the “Irish car bomb” and that’s it (it’s called “Irish” because it contains Irish drinks.

      I’m sure people in Vietnam aren’t too keen on Agent Orange cocktails and Americans wouldn’t be happy about a 9/11 sandwich. He’s not saying that Irish people are annoyed at the drink, he’s saying they’re annoyed at the name and I’m sure plenty of them are.

      He’s not trivialising the troubles at all. He’s writing an article explaining to other Americans that they are a very serious issue and not something that you should name a cocktail after. Did you even read the article?

      You gave 4 reasons for a barman not serving the drink and 3 of them are exactly what the author said: they don’t want to serve a drink that glamorises or makes light of a tragic conflict or that associates Irish people with war and terrorism. The other is that they mightn’t know it but I’m sure even then, a lot of bartenders would be offended at a foreigner coming in and asking for one.

      This guy never said he was an authority on the country or on the history of Ireland. All he did was write an article telling other Americans that the “Irish car bomb” drink is a touchy issue in Ireland and that ordering it on St Patrick’s Day isn’t respectful to Ireland, it’s the opposite.

      It sounds like you just want to get mad because of the Crazy Frog comment (and yes, that was the number one song once here).

      Full disclosure, I’m fully Irish too. I’ve lived in Kildare all my life and my family is from Sligo on both sides as far back as we can trace.

  9. El Reply

    October 3, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    “It’s not really that offensive….The creation is well documented locally and those present at the creation are still alive.”

    Oh, really? Not that offensive to whom, exactly? What difference does it make if the thoughtless people who came up with the drink are still alive…more to the point is the fact that many of those of us who experienced actual car bombs–you know, those explosive devices used by terrorists that blew the centres out of our towns, killed our friends, forced us to grow up with a fear of every parked car–are also still alive, and we *do* find it tactless, callous and offensive to name a drink after a murder weapon; to suggest otherwise is arrogant and blind.

    And as for the “simple” people of “Eire”, being educated in American “culture”…are you serious? As a previous poster said, this is a great example of just why Irish people *do* get annoyed by/mock Americans.

    Also…I really hope the OP was being ironic when he mentioned what the IRA has done for Ireland.

  10. Chibi-Zel Reply

    March 26, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    I was wondering what name the drink was called in Ireland?

  11. Ben Reply

    March 18, 2011 at 5:18 am

    NO mention of the Monaghan and Dublin car bombs that claimed the lives of 33 totally innocent people, mostly young women and an unborn child.
    This occurred on 17th may 1974 and in 1993 the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) a Protestant terror organisation, claimed responsibility for the atrocity, but there was ample proof of collusion by the British security forces. No, car bombs are best not mentioned in a bar, especially when you do not know what you are talking about.

  12. J Fitzpatrick Reply

    March 17, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    It’s not really that offensive… I doubt this moron actually ever went to Éire, the people there are not at all hateful towards Americans only douche bags that come over and think that every Irish Man wants to fight and pound Jameson all day. I feel like the OP is one of those uneducated Douche Bags just typing some nonsense on things he actually has no idea about… “Crazy Frog”give me a break… The Top 20 in Ireland is no different than any where else… lady Gaga, Brittney Spears, Katy Perry,etc…Someone Like You- Adele is The Number 1 song in Ireland this past week. Irish people are a loving, simple people, they do not hate Americans they are just simply curious about our culture and how we view theirs’. If you just answer then openly and honestly and don’t cloud your thoughts with stereotypes then you will be, holding up shots of whiskey and toasting with the locals in no time…

    Drink History of The Original ‘Carbomb”

    This cocktail according to witnesses and created in Norwich, Ct at Wilson’s Saloon by Charles Oat. The creation is well documented locally and those present at the creation are still alive. This is a synopsis of a version of it’s creation published in the early 90′s.

    Research: Originally the shot was called a “Grandfather”- 3/4 oz. of Baileys and 1/4 oz.of Kahlua. 2 brothers were drinking at the saloon on St Patrick’s Day 1977 with their brother Charlie,the owner. So the story is told,the name “Grandfather” lasted through the first hour of its life as toasts to grandfathers were made that St. Patrick’s Day afternoon. The story of the “Carbomb” creation starts here.

    After consuming a few “Grandfathers” along with Pints of Guinness,the pub owner realized something was missing. The taste of the “Grandfather” was incredible!!! (Kahlua was key to this) but because it was weak in alcohol he added a good pour of Jameson. He made a simple comment “The IRA just showed up. This oughta work now!” he said. (As you add the Jameson to the Baileys and Kahlua, the shot boils up like an explosion, hence the IRA.)They continued privately drinking their Ira’s and paid no attention to the fact that others at the bar joined in the toasting , “Give us some of those IRA shots they’re drinking ” The name Grandfather disappeared and the IRA shot was born.(In its early days the use of Scotch and American whiskeys was used in place of Jameson throughout the area, because so very few establishments had an Irish Whiskey in stock.

    Two years later, drinking IRAs and Guinness, Oat got the idea to drop the IRA shot in a half finished Guinness. “Bombs Away ” was the call. He called it the Belfast Carbomb, Irish Carbomb, and finally just “Carbomb”.

    • SGC Reply

      September 26, 2011 at 5:32 pm

      FFS.I’m Irish born and bred and I dont think I have ever felt quite so patronised in my life. “A loving , Simple people”. Any negative feeling most people I know would feel towards Americans visiting my country (yes there is some but its nothing personal as it’s not a uniquely American thing to do. Germans do it to)Is due to this overly romantic view of our culture without any attempt to grasp the reality of it. The “warped” view as the author called it that you have exhibited beautifully.

      Second. You will not be served an Irish carbomb if you ask for one at a bar in Dublin. Mainly because I have never met anyone from Dublin who drinks one. I did however witness my cousin’s Austrailian girlfriend not only not be served her Irish carbomb, but was refused all service in a bar in Monahagan. It is a sensitive topic particularly around the border as its not ancient history we’re talking about here. Its recent enough and fresh in alot of peoples memories.Remember that Omagh was only ’98. So yes it would be very offensive to some and is in poor taste.

      SOLUTION: drink something else if your here to avoid any possible faux pas, there is more than enough to choose from.

      Finally. To the original poster. Dont you dare bring up the crazy frog. It has taken me long enough to forget about that and it wasen’t our fault. It also hit #1 in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, New Zealand, Norway, Ukraine, Spain, and Sweden. It was collective temporary insanity. We cannot be blamed for a bad joke that went WAYYYYY to far. The same excuse goes for our economy.

      Slán go fóill.

      (p.s. to above poster. FFS call it Ireland, thats what we call it. I have never heard it refered to as Éire unless people are speaking as Gaelige. You pretentious git. Cut the plastic paddy bull. It is not appreciated)

    • B Reply

      February 29, 2012 at 4:49 pm

      J Fitzpatrick, shut up you moron. You know nothing about Ireland, see SGC’s post below. I was raised in Ireland…in the North to be exact and everything that SGC said is spot one. I spent 8 years working in a bars there and can safely say that if anyone had asked myself or any of the people I worked with for a car bomb, Irish car bomb, Belfast car bomb or anything like that, not only would you not have received it but you would have been thrown out of the bar. Who gives a crap if some idiot in CT invented it…he was probably a bigger moron than you but I find that hard to believe. What does he have to do with any bartender anywhere on the island of Ireland serving or not serving people stupidly named cocktails?

  13. Geoff Reply

    March 13, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Stout is indeed a type of beer.

    • realaledrinker Reply

      March 16, 2014 at 5:52 pm

      It depends on where you are. In most of the world (including the US), “beer” means lager (Budweiser, Miller, Pilsner Urquell), ale (Bass, Fuller’s, Smithwick’s), AND stout (Guinness, Murphy’s, Beamish).

      In the British Isles (and, I would guess, Ireland), “beer” typically refers strictly to ales, while lagers and stouts are referred to as, well, lager and/or stout. That’s probably where the confusion comes from.

  14. eireann Reply

    February 25, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Guinness is not a beer. It’s a stout. Beer and stout are two very different things! And lots of young people drink it too.

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