A full Irish breakfast and a pint of Guinness. The perfect Easter brunch. But, not on Good Friday. The pubs are closed in Ireland on two days of the year; Christmas Day and Good Friday. And, given that the Catholic Church deems Good Friday a day of fast and abstinence (one main meal, two snacks, no meat), it’s always felt like the hungriest and thirstiest day of the year.
Not any more. Judge Tom O Donnell, in what is described as a landmark judgement, has allowed the pubs to open in Limerick this coming Good Friday on the occasion of a major rugby match between Leinster and Munster. And, given the continued erosion of the authority of the Catholic Church, not many will feel any residual guilt while tucking into a large plate of bacon, egg, sausage, and black pudding washed down by their drink of choice.
Sport and alcohol are not just for the supporters. Sponsorship of teams and events by drinks companies has become so widespread that, as some wags suggest, you might think alcohol was a performance enhancing drug. It is great to see Ireland emerging from the dark clouds of religious oppression and this judgement is heralded as a sign of a new liberalism. And, I am sure it will be a great day out to start the Easter holiday. But, I still feel uncomfortable about the branding, advertising and sponsorship that link sport and alcohol.
Competing interest. Tom O Donnell and I are married to two sisters and have enjoyed many a pleasant pint together while putting the world right
Domhnall MacAuley is primary care editor, BMJ