Ireland is well known to be quite a Catholic country. Saint Paddy had a lot to do with that back in the latter half of the 5th Century but traditionally religion has played, and continues to play, a huge part of the socio-political and cultural landscape of the island – indeed church and state have been, to a ridiculously large degree, inseparable here for a long time.

It might astonish many people to learn that divorce only became legal in Ireland as recently as 1996 or that it was only in 1985 that condoms and contraceptives became available to buy and only if you were over 18 years old (in 1992 this was reduced to 17+) or that it wasn't until 1993 that homosexuality was decriminalised here.

Those dates are really not so long ago so it's no wonder people find it difficult to believe.  Of course nowadays the Catholic teachings of morality, that 'Catholic guilt', has a far less tighter grip on the policies governing what is now thankfully a much more liberal society – there are, of course, many aspects which are still influenced by that moral compass, pontificated from pulpits for generations past and engrained in the ways Irish life was lived but that's a whole other story.

The purpose of this little article is to inform any of you Ireland-bound backpackers planning to live it up Irish-style next Friday, April 3rd, that next Friday is different, next Friday is 'Good Friday'......not great Friday no, actually barely even good.....


All the pubs and clubs will be closed and you won't be able to buy a beer or alcoholic beverage. WTF? Why, oh why??  Isn't this Ireland??? I hear you exclaim... well, you can blame Catholicism for that one too. Good Friday, being a catholic holiday, carries a prohibition law which is still, nonsensically I might add, enforced throughout the Republic. By virtue of the same creed one is not supposed to eat meat either that day but fear not, -the butchers, steakhouses and burger joints will be in full swing...albeit without a beer to wash it down.


But you're travelling and we think it's unfair that we be forced to abstain from partying and the fun-fuel on Friday so we've put together a few ways you can have the craic without falling foul of the law.

Think drink ahead


If you're in town on Thursday, the day before Good Friday, then ask at your hostel reception for the closest off-license and stock up in advance. Go early enough though, sales are cut-off at 10pm and the queues can be seen from space!

Hostel Party!

Many Hostels, especially in Dublin, make an effort to create a party atmosphere on Good Friday night and very often include a couple of free beers and even live music so check with your hostel if they're planning something. Here's an example from our friends at The Four Courts Hostel from a few years ago...

Get racy

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Sporting event venues are exempt from the alcohol ban so we recommend heading to the greyhound track and making an evening of it. As long as you make a few bets you're perfectly entitled to enjoy a few drinks. “Two euros on that fast looking one and eleven pints please”.

Catch a play


Maybe not as boisterous as the dog track but an evening at the theatre will grant you license you to have a tipple. As long as you have a ticket the bar is open to you so you can get cultured and tipsy in the same venue. Delightful.

Ride the rail....or just go to the station

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For some reason, it seems travel warrants needing a drink so airlines, ferries, trains and train stations with bars can serve alcohol so we suggest heading to Connolly or Heuston station, get a ticket for wherever and you can sit as long as you like at the bar wetting you lips. Or even get a Train to Belfast for the day or somewhere up the North outside of the Republic where this no alcohol on Good Friday nonsense isn't a thing.

That's more or less it kids. Hotels with a bar are allowed to serve alcohol to residents or when accompanied by food so it might make hotels almost as cool as hostels for that one particular day...almost.... but the above options should suffice if you find yourself too thirsty to resist 'the goo' (the goo being an Irish expression for an insatiable urge for a pint) and stocking up on Thursday for a great Friday in your hostel is probably the best plan of action, after all the hostel will most likely be full of people with nowhere to go to party so it's most likely that the best party will be right there in the common area...and only a short stumble to your bed. Sweet. 

Drink responsibly people and have a good Friday.


Mike Wrach