“At One Point, I Was On Four Cans A Week”, Lightweight’s Heartbreaking Story


IN an ongoing series, WWN takes a look at the seedy world of drugs, drink and vice in Ireland today.

For some people in Ireland, alcohol is a nice way to cut loose at the end of the week, or in the middle of the day. Some people can go out, drink themselves into a stupor, and not remember a thing the next day. But unlike those who go out drinking every single weekend, some Irish people have a problem with alcohol.

People like Liam Keeling.

Unlike the rest of his friends who regularly sink double-digit pints before hitting the shots, Liam, 25, is a self-confessed lightweight. In telling his story, he hopes to inspire and encourage other people his age who also can’t hold their piss.

When we meet Liam, it’s almost impossible to imagine him as a man who was at one time spending only 20 euro a month on alcohol.

“I’d buy a slab of cans when they were on special in Tesco, and I’d just sort of let them sit there,” said the Dungarvan native.

“I’d bring a few with me when I went to parties, but I’d usually end up bringing them home at the end of the night. While all my friends were downing naggins, I’d just nurse a can. At my worst, I was up to four whole cans a week, while all my friends were putting publican’s kids through college”.

After a humiliating trip to Malta with his friends in 2015, Liam was forced to admit that he needed to step up his drinking.

“It was hell. Everywhere you go, they’re offering cheap drink, free shots… everyone except me was on their ear after a half hour. Meanwhile, I sipped on a bottle of Miller the whole night before leaving the half of it behind me,” sobbed Liam.

“All the lads sat me down the next day and told me I had a problem, and that I needed to do something about it. I made a decision that day; I wasn’t just letting myself down. I was letting down the whole squad”.

After an intensive 6-month drink rehabilitation programme which saw his friends berate him night after night until he got utterly shitfaced, Keeling can now go on the tear with the best of them. He still keeps a picture of himself at the height of his drinking problem, to remind himself of how low he once felt.

“That’s Bermo, on the floor there in his own sick,” said Liam, pointing out his mates in the photo.

“And there’s Jimmy and Macker, both with head wounds after they started fighting over something in the taxi. And there, at the back, there’s me. Perfectly sober, only a mouthful gone from a can of Coors”.

His voice trails off, packed with emotion.

“I never want to go back to that place again”.