An Irishman named Paul McLean moves to a small hamlet in County Kerry, walks into the pub, and quickly orders three beers.
The bartender raises his eyebrows but serves the man three beers, which he drinks quietly alone at a table.
An hour later, the man has finished the three beers and orders three more.
This happens yet again.
The next evening, the man orders and drinks three beers again at the same time several times.
Soon the whole town is whispering about the man ordering three beers.
Finally, a week later, the bartender broaches the subject on behalf of the town. “I don’t mean to be curious, but people here are wondering why you always order three beers.”
“It’s strange, isn’t it? The man responds. “You see, I have two brothers and one went to America and the other to Australia. We made a promise to always order an extra two beers whenever we drank as a way of keeping up the family bond.”
The bartender and the whole town were pleased with this response, and soon the man who ordered three beers became a local celebrity and source of pride to the hamlet, even to the extent that out-of-towners would come to watch him drink.
Then one day the man walks in and orders only two beers.
The bartender pours them with a heavy heart.
This continues for the rest of the evening – he only orders two beers.
The word flies across the town. Prayers are offered for the soul of one of the brothers.
The next day the bartender says to the man, “The people here, me first of all, would like to express condolences to you for the death of your brother. You know — the two beers and all…”
The man thinks about it for a moment and then replies, “You’ll be happy to hear that my two brothers are alive and well. It’s just that I, myself, have decided to give up drinking for Lent.”