Buenos Aires. The capital of Argentina is a city that many, myself included, would consider a ‘once in a lifetime’ place to visit. Dating back to the 16th century, the metropolis is steeped in colonial history and culture. Breathtaking architectural beauty is complemented by a vibrant and friendly society. It’s not exactly the kind of place you’d expect to find a dozen pasty-faced Irish lads on the lash for a stag night, is it? I’m afraid it is. Several years ago I heard of a man who decided to have his stag in Buenos Aires. It may have been during the Celtic Tiger era and perhaps the chap had plenty of money, but even still I find the very notion of going to South America completely pushing the limits of what is acceptable in stag night destinations.
We have a problem, however, because this ridiculous trend has not disappeared along with our economic prosperity. Just last week I met a friend for coffee who informed me he is being hauled off to Berlin for a stag night. He seemed quite happy about the prospect so I had to double my indignation to make up for it. I’ve been to quite a few stag nights at this stage and my heart always sinks when I discover that someone I know is about to get married. Of course I’m delighted they’ve found love and all that, but my immediate thought is: Oh God, where is the stag going to be?
It’s a major challenge having to endure the excessive drinking and crazy antics, but it’s the arduous trek to and from the event that really crushes my soul. Being a Kildare native you can understand that, for me, a drive or train journey to Cork or Galway isn’t a hop, skip and a jump. The trip to the stag isn’t too bad compared to the return leg, although I tend to get a bit anxious about the sleeping arrangements. I’ll worry about having to share a room with someone and if they’ll laugh at my pyjamas or, in a drunken state, decide it’ll be fun to let off a fire extinguisher on the beds. However, the journey back from the event, especially if you’re driving, is hellish. I’ve been there numerous times for a stag and although Westport truly is a beautiful town, I find the journey back never-ending. Naturally, as with the morning after every stag, you’d be consumed with the fear and self-loathing, which only prolongs the trip. Half an hour outside the town and you’re still in Co. Mayo; it’s like driving across Russia, only not as cold and the police are less friendly.
You’d stop to buy an energy drink, a breakfast roll and a multipack of paracetamol. Twenty minutes later and you’ve pulled into the side of the road, discharging everything while crying for your mammy. These kinds of journeys, from Killarney or Lahinch or Listowel, are not served well with a raging hangover.
Those guys who think it’s acceptable to add flights and foreign countries to the stag itinerary really need to take a long hard look at themselves. The expense alone is shocking, but having to factor in all that queuing and getting on and off various modes of transport – especially during the fear and loathing phase – is just unacceptable.
I spoke to a man who proudly told me he had his stag at the Glastonbury music festival. Glastonbury? I never fell over. He cheerily told me that a gang of twenty of them went over for two nights of ‘madness’. Yes indeed, I’d feel the need to be sectioned if I was faced with that prospect. I shared a tent once when I was eight years old while on a boy scouts trip and swore never again. The idea of getting into my pyjamas surrounded by thousands of mucky inebriated revellers, with loud music blaring, strikes me as utterly insane.
Destinations such as Riga, Prague and Barcelona are quite popular for Irish stag parties. I feel it behoves the Department of Foreign Affairs to step in and outlaw the practice. Maybe we should cut off all diplomatic ties to ensure we’re not even allowed into these countries?
My sister’s fiancé recently called out for a visit. ‘So where are you having the stag?’ I asked him, bracing myself for the answer and deciding that I’d tell him my passport is out of date or I’ll have jury duty that weekend. ‘Ah y’know,’ he said, ‘I think I’ll just keep it local, maybe go to Naas for a few pints.’
He’ll be a very welcome addition to our family.