All three pub owners in a Co Meath village have agreed to remain closed on Good Friday. They will ignore new legislation, which allows, for the first time in 90 years, publicans all over the country to serve alcohol that day.

In January, the Government’s lifting of the ban on selling alcohol on the Christian festival was widely welcomed by the majority of vintners.

Similar to the village of Newmarket in Co Cork, Drumconrath publicans Dermot Muldoon, Pauline Fay, and Pat Dempsey have decided to honour the time-old tradition.

"Publicans get two days off in the whole year,” said Dermot. “Just two, so we decided to keep that holiday, as well as keeping up the tradition and having a bit of respect for our religion.

“We’ve received a load of support from our customers; after all, it’s only one day. We were known for closing on Good Friday throughout the world — it was something different about Ireland and now that’s gone. Slowly, all the Irish traditions are being stripped.

Dermot knows the other side of things too, having been in Dublin showing American tourists the sights one Good Friday.

“I had the day off, so I could go up to Dublin with the American tourists, but, ironically, we couldn’t get into the Guinness Storehouse,” he said.

“I can see the other side of it and maybe there should be exceptions for such tourist sites, like hotels, but I think that we are doing the right thing by staying closed, here in Drumconrath.

Normally, on the Good Friday we are off, we head across the border for a drink — it’s the novelty factor of having a drink on the other side of the counter. We’re delighted to stay closed this year.

Pauline Fay, of Fay’s Bar, said the day enables bar owners to switch off and spend the day with family.

“Quality of life has no price,” she said. “I always spent the day with my children and continue to do so.

This year, again, myself and my daughter will do the stations of the cross, before doing a bit of shopping together. I don’t think a bit of religion does anyone any harm. I’ve received 100% backing from my customers, some of whom have said that even if I was open, they wouldn’t come in.

Fr Finian Connaughton, who has been parish priest for 18 years, welcomed their decision, saying: “This tradition goes back years and, unfortunately, a lot of Irish rural and Church traditions have been taken over by the powers-that-be in Dublin. It’s city life versus rural life, again.

I would be totally behind these publicans and their decision, and think it’s a great stroke for this small village, putting their own stamp on things. Most of the village would be Catholic, so I wouldn’t think the majority of their customers would have a problem with the pubs staying closed.

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