All pubs in rural town to remain closed on Good Friday

Newmarket, Co Cork, will be dry despite State lifting 91-year-old ban

All of the publicans in one rural town are going keep their doors shut and remain closed for business this coming Good Friday.

Six publicans based in the north Cork town of Newmarket came together and decided they would not open their doors in spite of the State lifting the 91-year-old ban on publicans serving alcohol on Good Friday.

John Scanlon of Scanlon's bar, Church Street, who first proposed the move in an initial chat with a colleague, said: "We have only two days off each year, Christmas Day and Good Friday, and we want to hold on to that. It is a day publicans want to spend with their families."

“It would be different for city publicans who would be giving up a lot of revenues by staying shut on a Friday night, but I don’t think there would be a lot around here on Good Friday,” he said.


According to the most recent census, Newmarket has a population of 976 and the move has received an overwhelmingly positive response from pub customers in the town, with one customer congratulating the publicans saying: “Well done Newmarket, keep up our traditions.”

‘Day out’

Publican Joan Hourigan has been serving pints from the behind the counter at Hourigan's bar on Newmarket's New Street for the past 50 years.

A mother of nine, five of her children are involved in the business and Ms Hourigan said she has always enjoyed a day out or decorating their shut pub on Good Friday “and I don’t want to give that up”.

Ms Hourigan said the day off on Good Friday “is something that I cherish and a tradition I want to maintain”.

She said religion played only “a small part” in her decision to remain closed.

“A lot of our customers would be older farmers and I wouldn’t think we would be particularly busy on Good Friday anyway. They have grown up with the tradition and I think they will see it out,” she said.

One of the other publicans in the town, Mick Hourigan, announced the move to his customers on his pub's Facebook page and the response from customers has been universally positive.

“There are 363 days a year when the pub is open and I think that it plenty. Soon they will want us to open on Christmas Day,” he said.

Mr Hourigan operates a bar and a nightclub in the town employing more than 20 people. “I wouldn’t ask my staff to work on Good Friday. What is around on a Friday is not a lot,” he said.

On the Facebook page of his pub, one customer wrote: “It is great to see that old traditions matter to our country . . . Well done to you and hopefully more will follow.”

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times