Update: 18.50, Tuesday 02 July
As expected Barry’s Tea has dropped its sponsorship of animal cruelty – due to the growing backlash. A good result – although their slowness in reaction is concerning, so to paraphrase their stock response ‘I am reviewing my boycott of their tea’.
When I lived in Amsterdam, I used to beg any visitors from home to bring me a box of Barry’s Tea whenever they would visit. Likewise I would always buy several months’ supply when visiting Ireland. The Dutch teabags were simply unfit for purpose – weak, feeble and hanging from a limp string – you’d need two for a decent mug of scald. Fripperies such as strings have no place on a teabag. Irish teabags had no such paraphernalia. Barry’s Tea were plain, square bags of goodness that you’d leave stew in a mug of boiling water for a couple of minutes, and you’d be rewarded with a drink of utter wonder – rich and soothing. If ever I was running low on supplies I would send an urgent missive home ‘Send Barry’s teabags’.
I guess Barry’s Tea advertising had subtly worked its magic on me. During the 1980s and 1990s there had been a series of TV advertisements extolling Barry’s Tea as the taste of home, with a split screen image of a homely Irish kitchen with a teapot on the hob and an Irish Mammy writing a letter to her foreign-dwelling offspring. The other side of the screen would feature an impossibly, good looking emigrant cradling a mug of Barry’s Tea, while sitting by the window of an airy New York apartment, reading Mammy’s letter. Barry’s Tea was the taste of Ireland and an absolute necessity for living abroad. I bought into the myth hook, line and sinker. There was something ingrained in my subconscious that said that Barry’s Tea was a way of staying connected with home.
Barry’s Tea was made in Cork and was therefore vastly superior to the Dublin based Lyon’s Tea. This urban / rural divide was real – I had arguments with Dublin folk about their lazy, idle, good for nothing preferences.
I have continued to buy and consume Barry’s Tea since my arrival home. I now live in Dublin but I’d be damned if I was going to start drinking Dublin Tea (Lyon’s Tea). The quality and taste of Barry’s Tea was unsurpassable.
It saddens me to say that I will not be consuming any more Barry’s Tea. Last Wednesday there was a documentary on TV about the greyhound industry in Ireland. I watched it last night. It was horrifying to witness how appallingly these gentle creatures are treated by bloodthirsty organisations that have zero interest in animal welfare, which routinely breed far more pups than needed for racing; which mistreats and abuses the racing dogs; that discards, mutilates and slaughters the surplus numbers or those who do not perform. The industry is state funded which is utterly abhorrent and needs to change.
This barbaric ‘sport’ also receives commercial sponsorship. One of its main sponsors is Barry’s Tea which for years has sponsored greyhound racing in Curraheen Park in Cork. Barry’s Tea has voiced its ‘concern’ about the brutality of the greyhound industry and is ‘reviewing’ its future involvement in the ‘sport’.
This is a grossly inadequate response. The viciousness of the greyhound racing industry is inexcusable. The reluctance of Barry’s Tea to immediately cut ties with this horrific activity indicates that its doesn’t care about animal cruelty in any way. This is no surprise – it is a business not a human being. A business that is being run by a staff without a conscience?
The backlash against Barry’s Tea is growing. It is not directly accountable for the animal cruelty of course– it simply ignores it. They will at some point end their sponsorship of animal abuse. That’s not good enough at this point.
Barry’s Tea needs to drop its financial backing of greyhound racing and make massive financial donation to the ISPCA or another animal welfare charity.
Until that happens then I will be drinking Lyon’s Tea. And I am not even from Dublin.