Friday, 2 April 2010

Irish pubs open on Good Friday - but don't expect beer

"Oh it's-a lonesome away from your kindred and all
By the campfire at night we'll hear the wild dingoes call
But there's-a nothing so lonesome, morbid or drear
Than to stand in the bar of a pub with no beer"

Verse from “The Pub with no Beer” (Dan Sheahan/Gordon Parsons/Slim Dusty)

You don’t have to go to the Australian outback of the Second World War era to find a pub with no beer. Simply come to Ireland on Good Friday for a comparable “lonesome, morbid and drear” experience.  But it's not something Bord Failte like to shout about.

Thanks to the continuing influence of Catholic Church “values” in our supposedly secular republic, all the pubs in the country are forced to close on this day. Or at least not sell any alcohol. Here’s that phrase again, and the letters that compose it are practically worn away on my keyboard: Where else would you get it?

Some Limerick pub owners managed to get a partial exemption on the grounds that a big rugby match in the city constituted a “special event”, but the rest of the country will be dry… apart from the fact that people will be getting hammered on crates of beer and spirits in their living rooms, of course. I’m doing it just out of principle.

Far better, anyway, than sitting in a pub with no beer. It seems that some Dublin publicans will be opening their doors today, even though they will not be selling any alcohol. If you want to look at the match on the big screen you can go along to one of these and pay over the odds for soft drinks, and ingest stodgy pub grub. I’ll stay where I am, thanks. But looks as though there is a belated effort by some of the country’s vintners to oppose the archaic and sectarian Good Friday ban on selling alcohol.

And none more so than a Donal Nooney of Killimore, described on yesterday’s “Last Word” as a Galway publican who plans to defy the ban and open regardless – taking on the Catholic Church, the Garda, and the head shops. Hmmm. Sounds very dynamic for a publican to me.

Now, what was yesterday's date?

Matt Cooper, Last Word audio clip, April Ist

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Anonymous said...

I don't see what is particularly sectarian about the ban on alcohol. Protestantism and Islam are the other two noteworthy religions in Ireland. Protestants i doubt will take too much issue with a ban on alcohol on Good Friday and while it may not be a major religious feast day for Muslims I think they would actively approve of the prohibition of alcohol for the day.

Atheists are the only group who would take major exception to the ban because of it's religious reasons but I'm not sure you could describe them as part of the religious sphere from which sectarianism exists.


Caroline said...

I spent the last 10 years living in England so never had an issue with this before. But today, I innocently went to the supermarket to buy my weekly bottle of wine only to find the offie shut. A quick drive around town confirmed my worst suspicions - they're all shut!!! Makes me want to cry :(

Ponyboy said...

Anon - you're kidding right? You don't think that it's a massive coincidence that Ireland's legislative assembly is jam packed with Catholics and its laws continue to preclude the sale of alcohol on a day such as this. For penance you can nip downstairs into the presbytry cellar, select a nice bottle of chateau lafitte rothschild '47 and get one of the altar boys to drop it over to Caroline.

Ánna said...

It’s the Indirect ban on Socialising that gets me- as ironically in this electronically connected age, Loneliness is the spirit of the age.( One Temple Bar publican opening with no alcohol, says that in 2 years he expects he will be selling it) In my parens country days people whizzed about on bikes to country dance halls that probably only sold lemonade- but at least there Were little community halls, now these are closed. Now pubs are the main way people socialise- so they should be open on public holidays- we all need to reinforce our sense of community. I lived in Guernsey 1980-90s, a strongly Methodist island. Pubs did Not open on Sunday( maybe they do now) : But there was a thriving tourist trade, therefore V easy to get a drink, have a meal and meet a friend in the many small hotels. Many people were also in private sports clubs that bypassed the drinking laws- even if the only sports facility was a billiards table, all for a fee of 20 pounds a year. I was often surprised that alcohol was freely available in many corner shops- there was a tiny bit of a drinking problem among the young because of this. However in keeping with the Methodist ethos and prim prettiness of the place- you Never got young people out of control, violent and vomiting on the streets- they would have been identified as a problem if they had done so- and the money was allocated to provide decent teen remedial services if needed etc.
BUT you could easily meet and socialise with friends on Sundays and no doubt on Good Friday . However one quirk of Sunday drinking laws was petrol was classed as spirit ( no, not my preferred tipple either), But chemically it is an alcohol. So no petrol sales on Sunday- you had to remember to top up on Staurday night….I once forget and spluttered to a halt when leaving a friend to the airport…oh well a passing taxi picked him up…

Anonymous said...

Anon at the top there beleives that Protestants and Muslims are the only other noteworthy religions and that they would not take issue. So what's the problem? The problem is not everyone has a faith. Atheists and Agnostics are being ignored. Surely if the people who practice those religions do not wish to consume alcohol that is a personal issue and not one to be forced on those who do not share the same faith and ideals?