Irelands Lonely

An Irish pub’s Christmas video of a lonely, old man has left people in tears. Viewers were “bawling” after watching the heart-wrenching video for Charlie’s Bar in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, which has gone viral with millions of views on TikTok. The commercial has also gained millions of views on X, formerly Twitter. The moving two-minute clip shows an elderly man bringing a bunch of flowers to a grave and looking heartbroken at the grave remembering loved ones. He then takes a walk through the town, tipping his cap to people passing by – but they walk on, too. Some are too enthralled in conversation, while others pretend not to notice him. The man arrives at Charlie’s Bar on Church Street at the same time as a young couple with a little dog and they all go inside for a pint. As he sits down by the fire to drink his pint of Guinness by himself, the little dog comes over to greet him. This prompts the young couple to join the man at his table as they “cheers” to a new friendship. The heart-warming story concludes with a quote from Irish poet WB Yeats: “There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t yet met”. Posting the advert on their Facebook page, Charlie’s Bar wrote: “Christmas can be such a joyful time for some and painfully hard for others”. “One thing is for sure – you’ll always receive a warm welcome when you walk through our doors. We will be open on Christmas Day, so if you are alone this festive season, drop in for a chat.” People flocked to share their thoughts on the magical scene, with some saying it perfectly captured the true spirit of Christmas. One social media user commented: “Far better than all the nonsense that assumes everyone has a huge family, bank account and social circle who meet up to eat vast amounts of food, play board games and pretend to embrace the nonsensical ‘magic of Christmas’.”

Ireland has the highest levels of loneliness in Europe according to a new survey. The survey was carried out as part of a European Parliament pilot project by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in collaboration with the Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion (DG EMPL). Data on more than 20,000 Europeans was collected at the end of 2022 from an online consumer panel. It provides a detailed overview of loneliness in the European Union. Findings show that on average, 13% of respondents reported feeling lonely most or all of the time in 2022, while 35% reported being lonely at least some of the time. Loneliness prevalence differs across countries, this can be explained by cultural differences but also by demographic differences and, possibly, sampling differences.

According to the survey, loneliness is most prevalent in Ireland as over 20% of respondents reported feeling lonely. Luxemburg, Bulgaria and Greece followed behind while the lowest levels, all below 10%, are observed in the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Croatia and Austria. A similar geographical pattern was already observed for data collected during the pandemic. The prevalence of loneliness decreased with increased age, income, and education. Having several meaningful relationships is associated with lower loneliness levels, but the frequency of contact also matters.

People experiencing major life events such as separation, job loss or finishing their studies are more often lonely. Evidence is also mixed on whether men or women are more likely to report being lonely. On average, women are more likely to be lonely, but when looking at gender differences by age, these differences are not statistically significant, according to the survey. Apart from age and gender, several other individual characteristics are found to be associated with loneliness. Previous studies found that the share of people who reported being lonely varied greatly by income level and work status. Richer respondents are less likely to be lonely than those in lower income areas and loneliness is more prevalent among the unemployed and students than among those who work. Education also matters, with higher education being negatively correlated with loneliness. Being in a relationship is associated with lower loneliness if individuals are happy in their relationship. Those in unhappy relationships are more likely to be lonely than single people. Consistently, individuals living with another adult are less likely to report loneliness compared to those living alone. Having a close relationship with several friends and family members not in the same household is also linked to a substantially lower risk of loneliness compared to having just one close contact or none. The frequency of contact with family members and friends also matters. Individuals who meet family members and friends at least once a week are less likely to be lonely. At least for family members, this also applies to exchanges via phone, the internet or social media. In this Season of good will, may we all make special effort to spend time with others.


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