– Nestled in the shadow of the picturesque southern mountain range Macgillycuddy's Reeks, home to Ireland's three highest peaks, Kilgarvan is little more than a blink-and-you-miss-it blip on the road between tourist towns: a single street, a straggle of houses, a shop, two bars, a church and a graveyard. But it became the center of an international media frenzy this winter when the local council voted to legalize drunken driving.

That was the way it was portrayed, at least. What the Kerry County Council actually did was to pass a motion calling for people who live in country areas to be allowed to have a few beers before driving home.

The measure was proposed by Danny Healy-Rae, a local pub owner and politician, with an eye to addressing two issues at once: the decline of pub culture and the isolation of rural life, particularly for older residents.

Healy-Rae's motion called on the minister for justice to allow the police the discretion "to issue permits to people living in rural isolated areas to allow them to drive home from their nearest pub after having two or three drinks on little-used roads driving at very low speeds."

He argued that this would help combat isolation and even lower the risk of suicide.

new york times