As a Catholic Country traditionally and also one with a lip for the demon drink, our pubs only close completely on two days of the year. Another way of saying that is that pubs here are open 363 days of the year.
Anyway, Christmas Day is a family day normally spent in the home but the other day is Good Friday or the Friday before Easter Sunday. The pressure to change this law has been stronger than ever this year but the relevant Minister told the Nation yesterday on radio that she would not be changing that law this year.
It means that on 'unholy' Thursday in the supermarkets and off-licenses across the land, the tills will ring constantly in a crazed end-of-world panic buying spree. House parties will be organized, booze stocked up and some people will even try to get around the ban with the familiar, 'knock-on-the-window manoeuvre down their local.
In days of yore, (when I was growing up), not only could you not get a drop of the hard stuff on Good Friday, you had to eat fish as well. Sadistic Mothers were known to even boil that fish to ensure is was really puke-inducing and there wasn't a decent liquid around to get the vile taste out of your mouth. It was a horrible day where every fucking thing was closed except the churches. In the churches you were invited to "celebrate" the gruesome torture and eventual murder of Jesus in it's more graphic details. The central theme was what your were supposed to spend the day contemplating all of this. And not a pint of any kind anywhere!
Dale McDermott, a Management Consultant, has a bit to say on the subject in today's journal. From my own point of view, I always like to make the choices for myself. If the pubs were open on Good Friday I doubt that I would be bothered going to one. But we Irish are a difficult lot b'times. When we are not allowed to have something, that is the very time we want it very badly. There was a period in Cork, (my home town), when the Catholic Church had a whole lot of influence in pub opening times. Because of the local Bishop, the pubs were forced to close for what was called the "Holy Hour," This holy hour was from 2.00pm to 3.30pm Monday to Saturday. Back then, we had the phenomenon of the "locked-in's" being those persons who had the wink of the barman to sit quietly until he locked up at 2.00pm sharp.
Oh the joy of it! The forbidden pint had a taste like no other. The few of us left inside grinned wickedly at each other like little boys engaged in a classroom prank. Bishop Lucy was toasted and given the proverbial finger during gales of mirth. And while you might have a single pint with your lunch from 12.30 to 2,00pm, when you were lucky enough to be locked in, you laced into it with utter abandon. Even better, there were some pubs around the city where it was commonly known you hadn't a chance of being locked in because these establishments were where the Police, (Gardai), were entertaining each other for the holy hour.
It was another classic example of, "An Irish solution for an Irish problem." The Church was happy, the law was happy and the punter could be happy to if he was so inclined. The same applied to closing time at night incidentally. So on balance, it just doesn't concern me that the pubs will be closed on Good Friday!
Well, it didn't until I discovered this morning that Good Friday this year falls on the 25th of March. "For fuck's sake" …….. that's my sixtieth BIRTHDAY !!!!!
I'll find a place though, don't you worry.