Search icon


11th Mar 2022

This Irish artist has created a series of prints inspired by our love of cheap cans

Fiona Frawley

two old school tattoo like illustrations, one of a can of druids, one of prazsky. Above each can are the words "in loving memory" and below, the words "cheap cans"

We’ve been missing the aul 4 pack of Prazsky for €5 something fierce the last few months.

The minimum pricing rule for alcohol came into effect in early January, and as you’d imagine in a country like Ireland, has been met with interesting response. We’ve seen people stock up on 500 cans the night before the new rule came in, supermarkets offering credit notes of €47.34 (the new price of a slab of cans) if you buy 24 plastic cups for €30 – Dutch Gold have even lowered their alcohol volume to be able to sell cans at the original price.

Along with attempts to work around the new minimum pricing rules, we’ve also seen pieces of art created in response to the sudden and painful loss of cheap cans in Ireland. In fairness, we as a nation have always loved creating work inspired by our misery.

One such artiste is Irish born, Belgium based illustrator Selkies, whose RIP Cheap Cans series epitomises our nation’s unconditional love of Tuborg, Druids and all the other classics. She chatted to Lovin about cheap booze, Irish nostalgia and the very real fear of fairy trees and forts.

Can you tell us a bit about how you came up with the RIP Cheap Cans series, and what can you’re missing the most following the new minimum pricing laws?
The RIP Cheap Cans series came about because of the massive outcry from people on social media when the new minimum pricing came in – it’s rare that everyone’s on the same page but the idea of losing something as iconic and beloved as the Big Bag of Cans just united everyone in mourning. It made me think of old-school memorial tattoos, so that kind of style seemed fitting, everyone’s favourite cheap can has a place in their heart I think.
I started out as a Druids girl, but one too many warm morning cans at festivals ruined me so I can’t even smell it now without getting war flashbacks. I’m living in Belgium now so I’m a bit of a beer snob, but I will never have so many notions that I would turn down a few sly cans of Tuborg on the canal.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Selkies (@selkies_)

Your work captures some of the most relatable aspects of Irish culture – how do you choose your subjects? What inspires you? 
I think a big part of it is living away from home, it really makes me appreciate this shared language of experiences that all Irish people seem to have. Like whether your cheap can is Dutch Gold or Prazsky, everyone has their can. There’s a huge variety within Irish identity I think, but there’s iconography and a set of references that we all just get straight away. Living abroad there’s just no way to explain the weird stuff – that more or less everyone’s granny has a Sacred Heart and a magic red lightbulb up in the house, and probably a framed photo of JFK as well, that hot whiskey is considered medicinal, you can’t build a road if there’s a fairy tree in the way, that mostly affection is expressed through insults, or nicknames that make absolutely no sense. I think we’re a island of gas loopers, and when I miss our particular brand of lunacy I usually end up drawing a little bit of it for myself – I think this drawing, Our Lady of Eternal Fortune (based on my friend’s mam’s actual use of her Virgin Mary statue) might be the best example.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Selkies (@selkies_)

Will we be seeing a real life bag of cans tote bag anytime soon? I think we as a nation need them. 
I think at this moment, in our time of need it is my duty to provide the nation with what we need to heal.
At the moment there are two versions of – the memorial design and then, for the purists, just a big aul bag of cans.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Selkies (@selkies_)

You can see more of Selkies work on Instagram, and purchase your own bag of cans on her website.

Header image via Instagram/selkies__

READ NEXT: Pick up some cúpla focal over a cupan tae in this as gaeilge Galway café