The Good Friday ban, a modern approach or a loss of identity?

Amy Rohu

On the Thursday before Good Friday it isn’t uncommon to see people in the supermarket or off license stocking up on alcohol. Sometimes it seems as though alcohol won’t be available for weeks with the sheer amount of it that’s sold as customers fill their trolleys with bottles of wine like there’s a drought coming, when it’s only unavailable for one day.

This year, for the first time in Ireland since 1927, the ban on alcohol being sold on Good Friday will be lifted and the pubs will open their doors. For a lot of people in Ireland, Good Friday is a day off and a great excuse to wind down with a glass of wine and for many it is a social occasion, with the ban on alcohol being an inconvenience to them, resulting in the need to stock up the day before. A lot of people also argue that as a religious holiday, Good Friday should not interfere with the state itself and therefore businesses shouldn’t close. Do these people feel the same about Christmas or is that different because we get presents?

Pubs only close for two days a year and as part of Irish culture, this trend has been here for all of our lives, with this ban being lifted we are becoming more modern but at the same time it has to be asked, are we losing a part of our identity? It isn’t about being ‘backward Ireland’ or being ‘controlled by religion’, it’s about having deep rooted traditions and being proud of them. Good Friday is a religious day and if you aren’t religious then perhaps you don’t want the inconvenience of pubs being closed. However other countries still honour similar traditions and tourists or those who don’t wish to take part have to just get on with it because the country chooses to hold on to its cultural identity. It seems as though we have different values here and that’s a shame.

It makes you wonder why we can’t go without alcohol for one day of the year, why is there such a panic and uproar that pubs get a day off and Tesco won’t serve you your beer along with your groceries. As a society are we that obsessed with alcohol that the idea of it not being available is that horrific? Or is it a case that it’s just the principal of the matter and we feel that we need to at least have the option? It is worth taking a step back and thinking about it; what is the big deal with the ban?

Commercial pressure influenced a similar change in Ireland in the 1960s when the sale of alcohol was permitted on St Patrick’s Day. With the ban being abolished now for Good Friday, the only day left for pubs to close is Christmas Day. This news makes you wonder when that ban will be lifted and whether or not in a few years pubs will be open 365 days a year.

Amy Rohu

Image by Daria Jonkisz