NOT FOR TURNING Louisburgh publican Joe McNamara.
FOR the first time in 91 years, members of the public will be able to drink in a public house on Good Friday — but not in McNamara’s Bar, Louisburgh.
The amendment of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1927 will see pubs nationwide keep their doors open this Good Friday. However, publican Joe McNamara is refusing to open his bar.
“I don’t agree with it,” McNamara told The Mayo News. “Next thing they’ll want a half day on Christmas Day. It’s two days a year we get, and one day I’d use for painting and refurbishing.”
The bar owner believes the push for the amendment to legislation came from pubs in the capital, saying it was ‘the Dubs that lead it’.
President Michael D Higgins is set to sign the change into law this week, and it will take immediate effect.
Asked what customers think of his decision to remain closed, he revealed that he believes his regulars are loyal. “They stand by me,” he said.
“I’ll still close. They [customers] know I’m right,” he said, although he admits he’ll likely get ‘the odd few’ who’d prefer if he opened.
Guarded thumbs up
Meanwhile, public representative and Foxford publican Neill Cruise said the amendment was inevitable.
“It was bound to come. The first move towards this was when bars were allowed to open [on Good Friday in 2010] in Limerick when Munster played Leinster. Personally, business-wise, if people can make a pound, I wouldn’t be against it,” said Cruise, who owns Cruiser’s Bar.
Cllr Cruise said the country has changed, and that overall a lot of tourists are coming to Ireland to experience pub culture. “It is a controlled environment, and people might want to have a drink with a meal,” he explained.
Cllr Cruise is not of the belief that Good Friday is the only day for publicans to renovate their premises. “It can be done on other days,” he said, adding that he gives the lifting of the ban a ‘guarded thumbs up’.
Alan Gielty, owner of Gielty’s Bar and Restaurant in Dooagh, Achill Island, and chairman of the Mayo branch of Vintners Federation of Ireland, has welcomed the change, and said it’s down to ‘tourism’ and ‘religion’.
“Tourists come from different parts of the world … And there are so many religions in the country now; they have to be recognised.”
Asked if the amendment will affect bar owners who use the Good Friday to renovate their business, Mr Gielty denies it will have a major impact. “You don’t have to open any day; you can renovate whenever the choice is there.”
As regards the wider public’s response to the lifting of the ban, Gielty said: “Customers seem to be happy enough with it. It’s the novelty, something you can’t have, you want.”