We have some strange laws here in Ireland.

They have been tidying them up recently and I am delighted to say that it is no longer illegal to go fight in the Spanish Civil War.

There is one law that they refuse to repeal though and that is the one that forces pubs to close on Good Friday.

That law is a hangover [sorry – couldn’t resist that] from the Good Old Days when Ireland was priest ridden and effectively governed from the archbishop's palace.  The archbish wanted pubs to close on Good Friday so close they did, and still do to this day.

If you remove the religious overtones from the concept, then the law in effect states that drink shall not be served on the Friday before the first Sunday after the first full Moon after the Vernal Equinox.  Got that?  It's simple really.  Just try to explain it to a foreigner though!

Simple as it is, they wanted to make it even simpler and the law provides exemptions for people traveling by train or boat, or if there is a big football match on.  Hotels are also exempt but you have to have a meal with your pint which makes it even more expensive than usual.  Five pints are fine but try eating five dinners at the same time and the bill soon racks up.  So this means that our serious drinkers have to spend the day traveling up and down to Cork on the train all day.  Alternatively they can take the ferry to Wales where probably a lot of 'em stay as this law doesn't exist there.

We are fast approaching the centenary of 1916, and of course we are to be inundated with commemorations and tacky shows and God knows what [to be honest I am fucking sick of the subject already] so it’s a fair bet that we will be receiving quite a few extra visitors over that weekend.  The whole point of this exercise is, after all, just an excuse to suck visitors to Ireland and reef their wallets [you didn’t seriously think it has anything to do with history, did you?].  So all these visitors are going to arrive for the long weekend, to enjoy the atmosphere [!] and visit our famous pubs, or at least those pubs that remain open after the smoking ban decimated them.  How are they going to feel when they find those same pubs are closed, and it's all the Moon's fault?  Tourist offices, b&b owners and hotel receptionists are going to have great fun explaining that little conundrum to their customers.

Of course those of us in the know have our own ways of dealing with this little law.

Some will stock up on the Thursday before when supermarkets will do a bigger trade than on Christmas Eve.  Others know of shops that have accidentally slipped a few bottles of wine and whiskey under the counter.

And isn't it amazing how many pubs have back doors?

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Thou shalt not partake of alcohol — 11 Comments

  1. Pub families need days off. They need Christmas Day off to celebrate and visit friends. They use the Good Friday closure to clean kitchen equipment, redecorate eating and drinking areas and check electrical wiring. If they drop the Good Friday closure I hope the government will introduce a few closed Wednesdays throughout the year to enable maintenance and decoration work to be done. On those days of closure desperate drinkers would still be able to buy booze at off-licence shops. At restaurants wine and beer could be sold with main meals.

    • A very strong case was put to the gubmint to scrap this law, or at the very least to shelve it for this year.  Naturally they refused.

      I suppose there is a case for publicans to have one day off, but that in itself must be a very busy day?  After all they have to cram in all the births, weddings and funerals, before they can fit in the year's personal shopping.  And then they can have the rest of the day to squeeze in their summer holidays.  After a day like that, they'd need a drink or two to steady their nerves, if only the pub was open?

      • "A very strong case" sounds to me like the Vintners Association are desperate to make more money. The supermarkets, other off-licence shops, and restaurants must be drawing trade away from the bars and pubs.

        • Indeed those outlets are drawing custom from the pubs for a whole veriety of reasons [smoking bns, stricter driving laws and the like], however the Good Friday Ban also applies to supermarkets and off-licences.  You can order your groceries on-line including booze for delivery on Good Friday but it will arrive without the booze!  The only people who can serve alcohol are hotels [but only with a meal] and theatres.  It is nonsensical.

  2. I heard the other day, that there is a move ahead by the various churches to fix the date of Easter.    This means that your law will be out of date (except for the years when your date coincides with the new date).


    Ideal time to scrap your law  {:o)}


    • I did wonder when precisely they are going to "celebrate" the Easter rising this year?  I presume it will be around Easter, which is March 27th this year.  But maybe it should be on 24th April which is when the Rising actually started back in 1916?

    • Welcome Fred!  I saw that all right.  He posted about ten seconds after me so that proves conclusively that he robbed my idea.  Don't worry though – I have already thrown a brick at him.

  3. Good to know we're not alone in having lots of pointless and stupid laws. Pubs in Australia aren't allowed to serve customers on good Friday, or Xmas day. In my town we had a guy sue the local publican because he failed to supply water and feed for his horse, and according to a law still on the statutes in my state, the publican should have done this, but did not. It was not a serious case, more a bit of a joke, that served to highlight the fact that these laws were never repealed so in effect still stand. Another law that has come up lately, is that you cannot be charged for being drunk in charge of a vehicle, if that vehicle is a horse, as long as the horse is sober. 

    • Apparently it is against the law in Australia to walk on the right hand side of the footpath?

      Oh! And before I forget… It is illegal to wear hot pink pants after midday Sunday.  Don't say you weren't warned.

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