The word “whiskey” comes from the Gaelic word for “water.” Ireland often claims to have invented whiskey, although Scotland now manufactures more of it. “Whiskey was invented so the Irish wouldn’t rule the world” is a saying that is often popular on St. Patrick’s Day and in bars and pubs.
“God invented whiskey so the Irish wouldn’t rule the world” was cited in print in 1962 by columnist Jim Bishop (1907-1987), who wrote that he had heard this from his father.
The word whisky (or whiskey) is an anglicisation of the Gaelic word uisce|uisge meaning water. Distilled alcohol was known in Latin as aqua vitae = “water of life”. This was translated to Gaelic as Irish: uisce beatha and Scottish Gaelic: uisge beatha = “lively water” or “water of life”. Early forms of the word in English included uskebeaghe (1581), usquebaugh (1610), usquebath (1621), usquebae (1715).
Wikipedia: Jim Bishop
James Alonzo “Jim” Bishop (November 21, 1907 – July 26, 1987) was an American journalist and author.
In 1957, he started his column, “Jim Bishop: Reporter” with King Features Syndicate, which continued until 1983.
Google News Archive
1 February 1962, Mount Airy (PA) News, “Lure To Land U.S. Business Is Cast” by Jim Bishop, pg. 4A, col. 5:
He (Jim Bishop’s father—ed.) said God invented whiskey so the Irish wouldn’t rule the world…
15 September 1974, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Calling As Seen” by Bob St. John, pg. 4B, col. 6:
He (Football coach Norman Van Brocklin—ed.) can also be philosophical. Pondering Irish Whiskey once, he noted, “Irish Whiskey was invented to keep Irishmen from ruling the world.”
10 September 1976, Register-Republic (Rockford, IL), “Why God invented whiskey” by Jim Bishop, pg. A6, col. 3:
‘God invented whiskey so the Irish wouldn’t rule the world.”
17 March 1979, Saturday Times (Trenton, NJ), “Hits...misses,” pg. A15, col. 1:
HIT—St. Patrick’s Day, a fine occasion for telling the next Irishman you see, “may you be in heaven an hour before the devil finds out you’re dead.”
MISS—The snake, probably one of those driven out of Ireland, who claimed that whiskey was invented to prevent the Irish from taking over the world.
14 March 1990, Buffalo (NY) News, “Kovics story needed no fiction” By Bob Curran:
Spare me from characters like the one who called to say, “In your roundup of Irish jokes you didn’t mention that whiskey was invented so that the Irish wouldn’t rule the world.”
8 March 1992, Buffalo (NY) News, “Irish blessing seems a good way to start St. Patrick’s Day season” By Bob Curran:
Another one-liner says, “Whiskey was invented so the Irish wouldn’t rule the world.”
Google Groups: soc.culture.indian.kerala
Whiskey was invented so the Irish wouldn’t rule the world.
18 March 2003, The Gazette-News (Baldur, Manitoba), “Ninette & District News” by Joyce Main, pg. 12, col. 5:
Happy Pat’s Day to all. It has been said that whiskey was invented so the Irish wouldn’t rule the world!
A Face Full of Wind
By Daniel Quigley
Haverford, PA: Infinity Publishing
“Big Bill, you still drinking?”
“Christ, Kelly. You know I am. Whiskey was invented to keep the Irish from ruling the world.”
Against All Cults
By Ron Stauffer
Denver, CO: Outskirts Press
Henry, my brother-in-law ‘til recent, who was of Irish descent, used to joke that whiskey was invented by God to keep Irishmen from rulin’ the world!
Google News Archive
28 February 2008, Tuscaloosa (AL) News, “Technical Expertise Shines From ‘Playboy’s Sadness” by Mark Hughes Cobb, pg. 3B, col. 1:
There’s an old joke I plan to get away with by virtue of being of partial Irish descent myself: “Whiskey was invented so the Irish wouldn’t rule the world.”