Irish pubs serve alcohol on Good Friday for first time in 90 years

Jim Croke enjoys an early pint on Good Friday as legislation was passed earlier this year to allow pubs to serve alcohol. Pic: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Jim Croke enjoys an early pint on Good Friday as legislation was passed earlier this year to allow pubs to serve alcohol. Pic: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
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Queues formed outside pubs in Ireland as a 90-year ban on serving alcohol on Good Friday was lifted.

Some punters eager to experience the novelty of ordering a pint on the holy day were lined up outside early opening bars from 7am.

Students Juan Pizarro (left), from Chile, and Yadira Perez, from Mexico, enjoying a drink in Slattery's Bar on Capel street in Dublin. Pic: PA Wire

Students Juan Pizarro (left), from Chile, and Yadira Perez, from Mexico, enjoying a drink in Slattery's Bar on Capel street in Dublin. Pic: PA Wire

In what was set to be a long and productive day for hostelry owners, many pubs were buzzing throughout Friday morning as revellers reaped the benefits of the law change.

Publican Brian Conlon, of Slattery’s Bar on Capel Street in Dublin city centre, was one of the first to pull a legal Good Friday pint at 7am on Friday morning.

“It was busier than usual this morning, when I opened up at 7am there were queues at the front door,” he said.

“I think people were more coming in for the novelty factor that it was the first time in 90-odd years that you could legally have a drink.”

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He said many of the punters were tourists from places such as England, Spain and Germany who arrived in Dublin and needed to wait until lunch to check-in to hotels.

“They are all in having pints, they are all having breakfast - that option wouldn’t have been there last year, so I think it’s a great thing,” he said.

“Some bars I’ve heard don’t want to open, but it’s a choice - you don’t have to go drink on Good Friday, but if you want to go drink we are open, we are serving drink and we’ll be here all day.”

Mr Conlon said his staff were happy to work on what previously had been a day off.

“They are all excited to come in and work, they want to be part of history because of us being the first bar to actually serve drink at 7am,” he said.

“They all wanted to get their picture in the paper.”

Slattery’s regular Jim Croke welcomed the lifting of the ban.

“It’s very good, it’s great for tourism and it’s good for the country,” he said.

Mr Croke said he would have been in Dublin’s Connolly train station - one of the few places exempt from the prohibition - if the pubs had still been closed on Good Friday.

He said he was delighted to be enjoying a pint in his local instead.

“And I’ll have another few before the day’s in,” he added.

The Intoxicating Liquor Bill 2017, which was voted through the Dail parliament in January, overturned a ban on Good Friday drinking that had existed since 1927.

The move came after years of campaigning from a hospitality industry infuriated at the annual lost revenue opportunity at the start of the Easter bank holiday weekend.

Some Christian campaigners remain opposed to legislation that won the support of all parties in the Dail.

The Intoxicating Liquor Act of 1927 also banned drinking on St Patrick’s Day in Ireland - March 17. But that ban was lifted at the outset of the 1960s.

There were some exceptions to the 90-year Good Friday ban - alcohol could be served to hotel residents; those travelling by air, rail or sea; or people attending a theatre show or a sporting event such as greyhound racing.

In 2010 pub owners in Limerick were granted special dispensation to open when the city hosted a high-profile rugby match between Munster and Leinster.

Donall O’Keeffe, chief executive of the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), said the decision to allow pubs to open on Good Friday was long overdue.

“The removal of this the ban puts Ireland on par with the rest of our European neighbours,” said Mr O’Keeffe.

“This change is good news, not only for Dublin pubs but also for our wider hospitality and tourism sectors, as people flock to the capital over the Easter weekend expecting the best of Irish hospitality.”

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