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Saturday 23 November 2019

Drinking ban proves no bound for determined few

Jennifer Ormsby

The pubs are closed for Good Friday -- and that's one good reason why some people want to sit at a bar and have a pint.

As well as the beer being carted out of supermarkets by the crate load on Holy Thursday there are always exceptions to the rule -- and innovative people who will find them.

You could legally drink last Good Friday by cruising down the Grand Canal or sitting in Connolly Station in central Dublin and waving a pre-paid ticket to Balbriggan at the barman.

"My cruises were sold out two weeks ago" says barge owner Shiful Islam, owner of La Peniche, a floating restaurant on board the Riasc on the Grand Canal that sets off from the Lock at Mespil Road and goes on an epic journey as far as Charlemont Street bridge.

"I feel like I'm getting away with something naughty'' says Maria O'Reilly on board La Peniche, which was doing three round trips on Good Friday. Other dining folk were all smiles as waiters served them their drinks.

"It's a fun way to spend a public holiday and a way of letting people know that they can't tell me what I can and can't do," admitted Wendy Dempsey. Other passengers said they got a pleasant feeling from "beating the system".

"It's marvellous -- we spent a lot of time looking for the boat, we're on holiday and don't see why we shouldn't have a drink," said one tourist.

In Dublin's Connolly Station bouncers were keeping those without tickets at bay and the bar doors only opened for people going on valid journeys -- which for some meant buying a ticket for a short trip to Balbriggan, the nearest destination that qualified.

Declan Larman, manager of the bar, explained that travellers needed a "valid intercity ticket to gain access to the bar", which was doing a brisk business, like most of the bars in other rail stations around the country.

Some travellers believe the Good Friday ban on pub opening is "old fashioned".

"It's unfair that this place can serve drink and normal bars can't" said one customer. "It's safer for people to be in pubs than drinking in fields.''

Many hotels were also able to serve drink on Good Friday because their customers were either residents or having a full meal.

Some pubs, like those of well-known publican Charlie Chawke, opened on Friday but were not able to sell alcohol and confined themselves to food, coffee and soft drinks.

Sunday Independent

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