All drinkers will raise a glass to end of Good Friday prohibition

Good Friday may never be the same again... in her weekly column COLETTE SHERIDAN reflects on the alcohol ban which could be lifted by next year
All drinkers will raise a glass to end of Good Friday prohibition

TIME FOR CHANGE. Picture: Shane O’Neill Photography

BYE bye Good Friday alcohol ban, hello adult responsibility.

The 90-year-old ban on the sale of alcohol on Good Friday is expected to be lifted by next year. I’d raise a glass to this move if I were a drinking woman. Indeed, I’d have raised many a glass to the abolition of any law that stymied people’s right to party.

But having forsaken booze, after far too many parties, I’m just glad that lifting the ban is another move towards separating church and state.

The ban of alcohol sales on Good Friday, that blighted day in the calendar (for poor Jesus, who was crucified, and poor old sodden drinkers who can’t go to the pub that day) is well past its sell-by date.

Rooted in Catholicism, Good Friday means nothing to many people. Catholics now make up 78% of the population, compared with 84% five years ago. And you can be sure that lots of people, who describe themselves as Catholics, are not the real deal. After all, they use contraception, ‘live in sin’, get divorced, don’t attend Mass...

They’re cultural Catholics who haven’t been of the card-carrying variety for a long time — if ever.

It’s about time this country finally severed the vestiges of church and state. Historically, we were a nation of craw thumpers, beholden to the clergy, sometimes out of fear. Now, we’re a multi-cultural society where religious observance is on the wane, with vocations to the priesthood so low that the church will possibly have to end up hiring married men — or, dare one suggest it, women.

In the meantime, there is still the day after tomorrow to get through. Off licenses and supermarkets will be busy with people stocking up on drink for Good Friday. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

And if people want to drink, nothing will stop them. Prohibition never works. It just brings out the rebel in people.

A friend used to host a ‘crucifixion party’ in his house every Good Friday. Everyone ended up crucified from the drink. I don’t think he has these parties anymore. I’d have no business being there as my only role would be to mop up the mess afterwards. And who wants to do that?

The former revellers, now older and more sedate, stay at home on Good Friday, no doubt with a few craft beers chilling in the fridge. They have kids now so frenetic partying has been replaced with driving their kids to play dates, soccer and violin lessons. They finally grew up (albeit reluctantly) and have responsibilities.

But the spirit of the crucifixion party will always be treasured because it tallies with their objection to being dictated to by the church.

Not being able to go the pub on Good Friday is a farce. As a result of special pleading, some 35,000 people attending the Ireland v Switzerland game in the Aviva Stadium last year were allowed to consume alcohol there — but they couldn’t have a drink in any of the pubs nearby, before or after the match.

There weren’t any bolts of lightning or howls of thunder from the heavens when drinking was sanctioned at the venue.

Quite simply, if drinking on Good Friday goes against your religious beliefs, just stay off the booze, but there’s no justification for forbidding others from having a jar.

In years to come, the Good Friday alcohol ban will seem like some sort of throwback to an era when the church had too much power in this country. People will laugh at the lengths people went to, to imbibe on this day.

We have always had Irish solutions for Irish problems. How to solve a problem like the Good Friday ban includes being allowed drink in a train station provided you are carrying a ticket for a train journey of at least 40kms. (What sad civil servant came up with that figure?)

You can legally enjoy a drink in a theatre on Good Friday provided you have a valid theatre ticket.

Drinking on Good Friday can be expensive. There’s the rather pricey option of booking yourself into a hotel for the night so that you can buy drink in the bar downstairs.

And there’s always the option of renting a boat. Because there’s no law over international waters, you can hire a sea-faring vessel and crack open the drink when you’re halfway between Ireland and England. (This is the kind of carry-on you’d only indulge in if stark raving bonkers.) But desperate measures are called for when the law threatens to spoil your buzz.

All of this will be a thing of the past from next year.

There’s always the slight buzz that comes from coffee and chocolate. That’s as good as it gets for me.

Really, who needs a stonking hangover?


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