Drinking alcohol in public: What exactly are the rules in Ireland?

It’s a little complicated and like many things in the State, it usually depends on where you are

Following reports that gardaí cleared a busy beach on Sunday evening following a brawl which broke out between groups of teenagers, and with further monitoring of beaches and parks over the bank holiday weekend as people went out to drink in the sun, some are wondering what the rules are on outdoor drinking in Ireland.

So, can you drink outdoors?

Yes and no. Drinking alcohol outdoors is not against the law in general. But it depends on where you are drinking, as does the punishment.

What does that mean?

Many city and county councils have bylaws that forbid drinking in some or all public places. For example, under current laws in the Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown county council area, the consumption of liquor in public places is prohibited, which includes any street, lane, footpath, square etc.

You should check with your local authority regarding the alcohol bylaws in effect in your city or county.


Gardaí have the power to ask you to leave the area, seize the alcohol on your person, and demand your name and address. If the person gives a fake name or address, they will be liable for a fine.

It’s similar in other council areas. Within the Dublin City Council area, no person is permitted to “consume or attempt to consume intoxicating liquor on a road or in a public place within the functional area of the Council” and gardaí have the same powers to respond to this.

It is also an offence to consume alcohol bought in a closed container (like a bottle or can) within 100m of the off-licence where it was sold.

However, the law does not forbid a pub from delivering drinks to people’s homes, or allowing customers to bring drinks home via takeaway pints.

Can the Garda confiscate my alcohol?

Yes. Gardaí can confiscate alcohol if you are drinking in public and behaving in a way that could cause worry for the safety of yourself or others. That could also include a fine of up to €500. They can also confiscate alcohol if it is being drunk by a person under 18, or where they have cause to believe that it will be consumed by a person under 18.

So what should I do?

The best idea would be to just avoid drinking in very public places, with the only exception being bars and restaurants with outdoor seating, or which serve takeaway pints, as well as at live events or music festivals which take place outdoors. Though you should also check the rules for each of these in advance.

What else do I need to know?

It is also an offence, under the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003, to be so drunk in a public place that you could reasonably be assumed to be a danger to yourself or to anyone around you.

It is an offence to supply alcohol to a drunk person.

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times