Saturday 18 November 2017

Have we gone to the dogs in search of a pint?

What is it about the Irish urge to have a drink on Good Friday? You can argue all you like about the merits of a 'dry' day, but it says something about the Irish relationship with both drink and religion that the quest for a drink becomes a perennial topic of conversation at Easter time.

The history of the ban on pubs opening on Good Friday dates back to a 1924 Dail debate on whether it should be a "day of mortification", which eventually led to Good Friday, Christmas Day and, strangely enough, St Patrick's Day, being designated days on which public houses could not open. As with all things Irish, there was 'an exception'. In this case, so-called 'bona-fide' travellers were entitled to drink in train stations, which have since become an attraction for the drinking classes on Good Friday every year, even though most of them rarely travel beyond the confines of the station bar. The 'ban' has also been lifted in hotels, where guests are either staying the night or "consume a substantial meal".

Yesterday, the RDS was added to the excluded list when Leinster hosted Treviso and rugby fans were able to enjoy a drink with the scrum. And the country could finally be said to have 'gone to the dogs' when the bars at Shelbourne Park dog track in Dublin opened their doors last night. The dogs didn't start running until 8pm, but the bars opened at 7pm, which seems to prove that there is something in the Irish psyche about getting a head-start when it come to the drink.

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