Saturday 20 January 2018

Tourists bemused by the open pubs with no beer

Jason O'Brien

A 'secret knock' wasn't necessary to gain access to pubs in the capital yesterday, despite it being Good Friday.

But once you were inside, a nod and a wink to the barman did not result in a pint of porter either.

All has changed, changed utterly. A terrible beauty is born.

"It's a stop-gap measure that really suits no one," Ger Clinch, a staff member in the Oval on Dublin's Middle Abbey Street, said.

"This is our first year opening on Good Friday but I think within two years it'll have changed again. Within two years we'll be serving alcohol."

A host of pubs around Dublin and around the country opened on Good Friday for the first time to serve food and soft drinks, and to show the big rugby match from Thomond Park.

But only certain pubs in Limerick were permitted to sell alcohol. Everywhere and everyone else remained in limbo, which may have been apt, given the day that was in it.

"I think it's a bit of a joke in this day and age that the church still has such a hold of what people can and cannot do, given all the problems we've been hearing about," Eimear Burke from Donaghmeade, Co Dublin, said.

"I think it should be a personal choice if you want to have a drink or not."


So was she tempted to join the exodus to Limerick?

"It's a bit of trek for a drink isn't it? And I've got a hangover, so I'm only in here for a bit of pub grub as a cure."

There was no option to take the hair-of-the-dog, however, and the slightly-surreal situation of open pubs not serving alcohol left some tourists confused.

"I don't understand it -- no Guinness," Pietro Caronale, from Naples, Italy -- who only recently arrived in Dublin -- said succinctly.

We attempted to explain the situation.

"Tomorrow?" he asked. "Yes. And all the tomorrows after that."

In Madigan's on North Earl Street, three sisters were relaxing following a day's shopping by having two bottles of Sprite and a cup of tea.

"One day off without it (alcohol) is no harm," Bridget Hanlon said.

Her sisters eventually came around to her way of thinking, but not before admitting they had come into the pub for a "real" drink only to be set straight on their options.

Glummer still was the pub's manager, Paddy Bennett. "I was looking forward to the day off, but got the call yesterday that we'd be opening for food," he said.

"Good Friday was one of the two guaranteed days off each year (with Christmas) but I think this is the end of Good Friday closing now."

And so another death knell for the 'secret knock'.

Irish Independent

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