The year is 1927…
Charles Lindbergh is flying The Spirit of St. Louis across the Atlantic Ocean from New York City to Paris in what would be the first solo transatlantic flight. Work is beginning in South Dakota on a new giant sculpture that will depict the faces of four US presidents at Mount Rushmore. A 49 year-old Joseph Stalin is taking the reigns in the of The Soviet Union as Leon Trotsky is expelled from The Communist Party. Britain is in the depths of an influenza epidemic that sees the death of over 1,000 people a week.
In Ireland, members of the freshly elected 5th Dáil Éireann meet. The largest party is W.T. Cosgrave’s Cumann na nGaedheal. Éamon De Valera’s Fianna Fáil are in parliament for the first time ever. The 5th Dáil didn’t last long and the 6th Dáil would be elected just two months later.
Holding onto majority in both elections Cumann na nGaedheal would pass the first ever bill in Ireland aimed at stopping the sale of alcohol on Good Friday. Ireland, and the world it which it sat, was a very different place.
The news that the now standing 90-year ban is to be lifted by 2018 has, in truth, been a long time coming. Politically, it probably makes sense to be seen to disassociate with the Catholic Church in 2017. Practically, it’s becoming more and more difficult to argue that we live in a ‘Catholic’ country.
Theoretical musings aside, by 2017 the Good Friday ban has faded into something of a clumsy annoyance and it doesn’t resemble anything close to a firmly held ideological stance. If you wanted to drink on Good Friday; you did. Most simply stocked up the night before on the annual pilgrimage to bag yourself a big bag of cans.
The publicans’ are busy protecting their own best interests, so I wouldn’t take their word as gospel on this one but, they raise a valid point: Economically the ban makes no sense. Logically, it’s got even less of a leg to stand on. The Intoxicating Liquor Act 1962 offers exemptions to all parts of the country outside of Dublin, Donnall O Keefe writes in The Times. Remember the (legal) sale of booze in Limerick on Good Friday in 2010?
You could, of course, also hop on a train, attend a football match, go to the theatre, or stay in a hotel and drink yourself stupid. Let’s all be sensible now and close this little chapter of Ireland’s already turbulent legislative history. The bill isn’t worth debating, and a law that has more loopholes than anyone can make sense of, is certainly not worth saving.
Ireland has changed. There was a time where being on the side of the ban, politically at least, might have made sense. It’s pretty difficult to reconcile that with contemporary Ireland.
Nobody likes being told what to do and it’s probably time Ireland grew up a little. Give people a choice and they’ll respect the rules more. If you don’t want to drink on Good Friday ’18 just don’t crack open the keg. Rest in Peace, Intoxicating Liquor Act 1962, you’ve given us some great memories, but please, don’t ever fucking bother us again.