Local drinkers were in celebratory mood this week following news that pubs in Abbeyfeale (and the rest of the country) would be allowed to open on Good Friday for the first time in almost 100 years.
The ban on the sale of alcohol on Good Friday was originally imposed in 1927, just four years after independence, although we were still obliged to swear an oath of allegiance to the king.
“We may have won our freedom,” one disgruntled pint drinker complained at the time “but the first thing the feicers do is start closing public houses.”
“No room at the inn” agreed his companion. “If Our Lord himself arrived in town today, he wouldn’t get in anywhere!”
However, drinkers soon devised ingenious ways of procuring pints illegally.
The secretive knock on the back door of certain establishments by those who knew the code would gain hushed and clandestine admittance.
And most drinkers swore that a pint after hours tasted much better than one procured during normal opening times. It was possibly this rebellious spirit and total disregard for authority that won us our freedom in the first place.
Of course drink was legally available in some places, but this was only for the upper classes such as judges, doctors, politicians, priests and other high rollers.
Golf and rugby clubs served alcohol to members. Residents in hotels could party all night long without fear of reprisal. Travellers got drink in train stations. Dog tracks were also popular venues. The Abbey Theatre was normally packed on a Good Friday.
There seemed to be one law for the rich, and another for the poor. However, all that is about to change.
We told the story here before of the two lads from Kilconlea who walked down to town one Good Friday in the hopes of procuring a pint. They knocked discreetly on a few doors without success until eventually one kind-hearted publican took pity on them and invited them in.
“You can have a pint, and one pint only,” he warned them. “because I am due to tee-off in Ballybunion in a couple of hours time.”
Half a loaf was better than no bread. They decided to accept his offer. Ten minutes later they were back out on the street having downed their single pints.
They stood with their backs to Joy’s Corner and looked forlornly up and down Main Street. The shutters in every pub were pulled firmly down.
“What will we do now?” one of them asked.
“Get home as fast as we can,” his companion replied, “before the effects of the drink begin to wear off!”
|Senior Basketball Team from Colaiste Ide Agus Iosef photographed in Carlow at the All Ireland play offs. The team are now through to the All Ireland Semi Finals in Dublin next week.|