Friday, 19 February 2010

Faeroese Invasion - 1972

There are many similarities between the Shetland and Faeroe Island groups, particularly with heritage, reliance on a maritime environment and self-sufficiency. However, there are and have been major differences. The Faeroes have double the population, have far more independence from central government and a far higher proportion of its citizens profess to be religious (mainly Lutheran). Another of the main differences has been the Faeroese attitude to alcohol.

Until 1992 the Faeroe Islands were officially dry (not to say alcohol wasn’t available). There were a few minor legal exceptions. I visited the High Powered Reporting Post (a radar station manned by Danish personnel) in 1983. I was fully briefed on the protocols regarding alcohol before leaving UK. One was allowed to drink with meals in the Hotels – however you had to bring your own alcohol, pay for a separate room and pay for separate service – not really economically viable. One bottle of spirits was the duty free allowance. Alternatively, if you were on base you were advised to bring a high quality malt whisky with you, place it behind the bar in the mess when you arrived and you would then be able to drink beer throughout your visit. The Danish military personnel had to import their own alcohol - each month they had to order the next months supply from Denmark, if they missed the order date they went thirsty!

Since 1992 alcohol has been available in clubs, bars and restaurants but the suppliers are centrally controlled and price is dependent on the percentage of alcohol in the drink.

The story below took place in 1972 and involves some thirsty Faeroese fishermen who managed to get unfettered access to alcohol on Unst. In hindsight it’s an amusing tale but I’m sure it was terrifying for some of those involved. The episode is described in the newspaper cuttings below(Left click on pictures to enlarge):-