You remember that the pubs in Ireland used to close every Good Friday? Well, not this year. At least, not in Limerick anyway. On April 2nd, the Munster rugby team takes on their Leinster counterparts in a Magners League game at Thomond Park in Limerick. Due to concerns about player safety and also television rights, the game was scheduled for the unusual date of Good Friday. The publicans and bar owners in Limerick weren’t too happy about this as it meant that the public wouldn’t be able to watch the match on the TV screens in their bars and pubs. In addition, the 26,000 or so thirsty rugby fans who attended the match wouldn’t have the option of celebrating victory/drowning their sorrows afterwards. The publicans and other Limerick business people did their sums and reckoned that they would lose around €10 million if the pubs remained shut. I don’t know exactly where they got this figure from, but it would mean that every adult in Limerick would have to drink ten pints on the day, admittedly not an impossible task. At first, the publicans tried to get an exemption from the State that would allow them to open for a few hours on the day in question. When this didn’t happen, they applied to the Limerick courts on the basis that the match represented a ‘special occasion’. Of course, as every Irish person knows, with only 52 Fridays in the year ANY Friday is a special occasion. Amazingly, Judge Tom O’Donnell announced that he would allow Limerick publicans to open their doors on Good Friday from 6.00pm to 11.30pm. Even more amazingly, Judge O’Donnell’s reason for allowing them to open wasn’t because he felt it was a special occasion, but for “health and safety” reasons! Nice one, Judge
The relationship between alcohol and health in Ireland was also in the news earlier this week. The above collage of adverts from Guinness’ early advertising campaigns stressed that the stout was ‘good for you’ and that it gave you strength. The black stuff was given to pregnant women, nursing mothers and to patients who were recovering from operations. The reason for this was that it was believed that the pint of plain contained iron (the mineral) and, until recently, blood donors in Ireland were given a pint bottle of Guinness free of charge after donating blood. This bottle was provided by Guinness, but their parent company, Diageo, announced this week that they have decided to stop this practice. “We no longer want to promote alcohol as a medicine, or to imply it can be used as a treatment or a cure,” said a spokesperson for Diageo. They went on to reveal that only a small percentage of people had actually taken up the offer in recent years. I wouldn’t have thought that many Irish people would turn down the offer of a free drink, but there you go
One section of the populace that should probably drink more Guinness is the one that includes skinny indie kids drinking weak lager. Apart from the big wigs of the Catholic Church, many indie kids in Limerick may not be too happy at Judge O’Donnell’s ruling. In particular, the organisers of The Great Friday Festival 2010 would have been a lot happier if the pubs and off licenses had remained shut on April 2nd. The Great Friday Festival is a one-day event that is now in its third year. It grew out of a yearly house party that took place every Good Friday, but it got quite big and started to draw unwanted attention from neighbours and the boys in blue. The last two years have seen the festival move to an outdoor venue in County Limerick. This is from their website:
The Great Friday Festival 2010 will see almost a dozen bands, eleven Dj’s and a number of acoustic acts providing entertainment as well as graffiti artists, magicians and firebreathers. The event will again be held in a secret location with buses departing from Arthurs Quay bus stop starting at 11AM and will run half hourly untill 10PM. The buses will continue to run from the festival site into the city untill 1AM. Great Friday is a bring your own beer event.
This year’s performers include some of Limerick’s finest musicians in the form of The Fewer The Better and The Brad Pitt Light Orchestra, to name but a few. Tickets are priced at €30 and are available from Baker Place in Limerick and from the festival website. This price includes a return ticket on the magical mystery tour to and from the secret location and entry to the event. There will also be return coach services from Dublin and Cork for the not unreasonable price of €50. Any profits from the endeavour will go to Rape Crisis Mid West, a worthy cause indeed. So, it looks like Limerick city and county is going to be the place to be this Easter. Below you will find some songs about drinking, about drinking too much, about not drinking, about blood and about Good Friday. These songs go out to all you drinkers, alcoholics, teetotallers, blood donors, skinny indie kids and girls who don’t have to drink to have fun