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Sunday 21 September 2014

Tourists baffled as Ireland turns into drink-free zone

Mark O'Regan and Nicola Anderson

Published 30/03/2013 | 05:00

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Martina Repetti, Francesca Cuminetti and Andrea Cobianchi at Madigan's on North Earl Street in Dublin

IT'S certainly not Temple Bar as we know it – or as the tourist brochures sell it. But for some visitors from afar, what is usually Dublin's hottest scene for hedonism and excess seemed distinctly dry and downbeat.

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As darkness descended, there was very little pre-Easter cheer in the air.

The usual array of pubs and clubs – with their padlocked doors – had a distinct Good Friday feel which robbed the normally noisy fun spot of much of its lustre.

Landmark watering holes in the city – The Auld Dubliner, The Oliver St John Gogarty and The Temple Bar – which are normally magnets for raucous revellers, simply shut up shop for the day and had their doors firmly bolted.

Few native Dubliners were on the scene, but a steady stream of tourists seemed bewildered by the staid and subdued atmosphere which had befallen what they had believed was "party central".

"I had no idea you don't sell alcohol today. It's a bit disappointing because I wanted to try some Guinness here," lamented Blanca Vilamancos (23), who had arrived in Ireland from Burgos in northern Spain on Thursday for a seven-day jaunt with her sister, Jimena (24).

He added: "We didn't find out until this morning that we couldn't buy a drink in the pubs.

"That explains why it's very quiet around here. We were expecting lots of music and the pubs to be full of people."

And while publicans were left counting the cost of the traditional Good Friday 'booze ban', others reaped the benefits, with coffee shop owners reporting a brisk trade of tourists through their doors.

"It's one of the busiest days of the year for us," explained Josefine Ploeger from the Brick Alley Cafe in Temple Bar.

Exemptions

She continued: "The tourists don't know the pubs close today, so they're going elsewhere."

Since 1927, the Intoxicating Liquor Act has banned the sale of alcohol on Christmas Day and Good Friday, although the St Patrick's Day ban has long since been repealed.

Yesterday, the native population and visitors alike adhered to the same rules and the same exemptions. The sale of alcohol to those travelling by sea, air, train or ferry was allowed and those attending a licensed theatre were also entitled to buy a pint at the interval.

Race meetings and greyhound trials also enjoy this exemption, as do hotels and restaurants – but only where alcohol is served with food. At the bar in Connolly Station, about 100 drinkers had presented valid intercity train tickets in order to gain entry.

Manager Declan Larmon said Good Friday was "the busiest day of the year" for the bar, which opened at 10.30am.

He admitted that "probably not a lot" of the clientele actually intended to travel by train that day, with most of the customers hailing from the immediate inner-city locality.

Irish Independent

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