Good Friday now a typical Friday…at least in terms of the pub!



With the Good Friday ban on the sale of alcohol lifted last week for the first time since 1927, I made my way to Ballintubber to see how the decision was going down amongst the locals.

  Fr. Joe Poole met me at Kenny’s Bar in the village and said that the ban on alcohol arrived at a very different time in Irish history and he saw the recent Government announcement as an opportunity for discussion rather than a crisis.

  “This is an opportunity for the Church to address the whole area of alcohol and its use. It’s an opportunity for us to talk about the affect that alcohol has upon the nation.

  “It is used in terms of socialising and it does bring people together but I think it’s important for us to look at what the Government is saying in terms of strategy and policy when it comes to our health.

  “What I would say is that I have no problem with drink. However, we have to recognise that it is a drug and if it’s abused it can cause terrible damage not just to ourselves, but to those we love and the people around us.

  “In relation to our community here, we have taken responsibility for all of this through our GAA club St. Croan’s, who are doing fantastic work in encouraging people to move towards better health.

  “Drink is used to socialise in rural areas and we should enjoy this element of it and enjoy one another rather than allowing drink to take over our bodies and give us personalities that are not our own,” he said.

  Local publican, James Kenny, warned against fixing a law that wasn’t broken.

  “As a publican and depending on the sale of alcohol for my living, I’m still not totally in favour of lifting the ban because for 91 years this worked in our society and my point would be why fix it if it’s not broken?

  “I’m looking at it from the point of view that we live in a society that seems, at times at least, to have an issue with alcohol. Going forward, I think there’s good work being done in that area with regard to zero tolerance on a number of issues when it comes to alcohol.

  “But by opening our bars on Good Friday, we’re not encouraging people to stay away. It isn’t that alcohol wasn’t already available on Good Friday; it’s just that it wasn’t available in licensed premises. I think that it’s (the ban on Good Friday) part of our cultural identity and it would have been best if we had kept it”.

  James’ sister Eileen and co-owner of Kenny’s Bar said it was the end of an era in terms of Good Friday traditions.

  “Personally speaking, I think it’s sad that the Dáil has passed legislation which will end the ban.

  “Brought up in a family business here we always had great memories of being closed on Good Friday and after the devotions were over here in Ballintubber, our parents and ourselves would all go to Knock for this special day of prayer. As we got older we’d go to Dublin shopping instead but it was one day we enjoyed as a family with the business closed.

Now that this has come to an end we now only have Christmas Day and I suppose it won’t be long until that ban is lifted too.

  “I have read of the Good Friday pub crawls already being planned around the country but where does that leave us in terms of health?” she said.

  In Roscommon town, Eamonn Gleeson of Gleeson’s Townhouse, was also against the lifting of the Good Friday ban.

  Speaking to James Mooney and Cian Glennon, he commented that alcohol was served on enough days throughout the year and therefore the ban should have remained.

  So, overall the response to the ban has been extremely mixed with those in favour of retaining it arguing that it’s a part of our cultural identity as well as highlighting the 363 other days of the year alcohol is freely available.

  It’s certainly a decision which has divided opinion but also one which has raised deeper questions about our nation’s relationship with alcohol. While the opening of licensed premises will be a novelty this Good Friday, as with all recent laws concerning pubs in Ireland, the initial furore will die down and Good Friday will quickly become a typical Friday, at least in terms of socialising.