Former Defence Minister Willie O’Dea, who lives around the corner from the church, was one of the early arrivals for the ceremony which drew a packed congregation.
Mr O’Dea said: “I supported the publicans’ proposal from the outset. Judge Tom O’Donnell had to interpret the law and the prevailing view in the Law Library from people I have talked with is that he was right in his interpretation.
“I feel the situation will have to be regularised by next Good Friday. Basically, under the present legislation, a special event, which this game clearly is, triggers exemptions for pubs. The court can’t look at the religious or morality of pubs opening on Good Friday, but has to look at the law, and this was a sensible decision.”
However, retired insurance official Niall Carey, 65, who did a reading at the St Joseph’s Church ceremony, held a totally different view.
Mr Carey, from Ballinacurra Gardens, said: “I think it is scurrilous. I thought I’d never see the day that pubs would open on Good Friday. Irrespective of the revenue pubs get, they are only asked to close on two days, Good Friday and Christmas Day. They have plenty of days to make up what they would have lost today. It is greed more than anything else. The match could have been moved to Thursday or Saturday.”
Paschal O’Grady, who for years entertained audiences around the country as part of the Tom and Paschal double comedy act, could not see any problem with the pubs opening last night.
Mr O’Grady, 78, said: “What is more important is how we approach our neighbours and friends. That is more important whether we drink or not and I don’t drink.”
Pat Kinehan said: “It’s blown out of all proportion by the media, there is no need for all this. I would have preferred to see the pubs closed today, but the clubs would be open anyway.”
St Joseph’s Church choir member John Ryan, from Ballysimon, did not approve of the pubs opening.
Mr Ryan, 69, who has been in the choir for the past 22 years said: “It is not right. Just for the one day they are asked to close.”
Great-grandmother Mary Gleeson loves to watch rugby on the television.
“I don’t agree with the pubs opening. There is enough drink going around and people shouldn’t drink on Good Friday, they could do without it,” said the 77-year-old.
Philip Moore from Prospect said: “I think they should be let open and leave it up to people’s discretion. The same on Christmas Day. People should have freedom of choice. They are open in Rome.”
Valerie O’Connor, who lives off O’Connell Avenue, said it would have been disastrous if the pubs were not allowed open and deprive the local economy of the €7 million revenue from the game.
She said: “I really don’t care about the pubs as that means nothing to me. But it would mean something if people did not come to Limerick because the pubs were not open.”