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Beer and banter on tap for ‘railway stations of the cross’

Good Friday evaders buy a ticket to nowhere and avail of Connolly’s alcohol permit

Tom Laidlaw from Portmarnock enjoys a pint at Connolly Station Dublin, where beer (not spirits) are sold on Good Friday if you have a train ticket. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

“Ah Jaysus! Drinking on Good Friday! Isn’t it only brilliant? We’re all going to hell but . . . ” mumbled a tired and emotional man as he pressed his forehead against a toilet wall and started singing Raglan Road in Dublin’s Connolly Station yesterday afternoon.

He was one of about 80 people who had gathered at Madigan’s Bar for the annual “railway stations of the cross”, and seemed to be taking full advantage of one of the very few bars in the Republic with a licence to sell alcohol.

“We’re getting a lot of people buying tickets to Drogheda today and they don’t want to come back,” the Irish Rail employee in the ticket office said. “We’re only selling the one-way tickets.”

It wasn’t hard to see why. Only those in possession of an inter-county train ticket were allowed into the station’s pub, which was being policed by an affable but strict doorman.

The cheapest ticket available was a one-way to Drogheda, at €13.50.

‘Pure pagans’

Tom Laidlaw from Portmarnock was one of those who had bought himself a ticket with no intention of boarding a train.

“I know, I know, we’re pure pagans. But I wanted to have a drink on Good Friday just because I was told I shouldn’t. Jesus died on this day and here we are for the craic,” he said with a laugh.

Sitting nearby was a stag party from London, and they weren’t laughing quite so hard. They were desperate for some craic and seemed less than impressed with a best man who had managed to organise the worst party on the one Friday of the year when the craic in Ireland is considerably less than mighty. “When I heard that all the pubs were going to be closed in Dublin of all places I thought it was a joke,” said Robin Flindaell.

Duty free

“The stag party isn’t ruined though. We’re all here together and we bought some duty free on the way over so can always go back to the hotel in a bit.

“And I hear that Temple Bar will reopen at midnight. Is that true?”

The desperation in his voice was evident. We told him it was.

Melissa Cawley from Mayo was a whole lot more laid back about yesterday’s prohibition. She was in Dublin for a concert on Thursday night and seemed to be one of the few people in the train station bar who was actually going somewhere.

“Our train was delayed so we decided to come in here for a drink. I didn’t realise that finding a bar today was such a big deal,” she said.

At the age of 21 many of the religious traditions seem to have passed her by. “I ate meat today too,” she confessed. “So I’m not having a great Good Friday really.”