Limerick raises a glass to historic ruling and end of a tradition

LIMERICK last night broke an age-old tradition of dry Good Fridays and proceeded to cock a snook at the recession by kicking off a big rugby match party which swung late into the night.

Good Friday church ceremonies in the city drew what clergy say were among the biggest attendances in years, hours before Munster lined out against Leinster at Thomond Park.

The pulling of pints was also marked with due ceremony. In South’s bar Councillor Jim Long, deputising for Mayor Kevin Kiely and wearing a mayoral chain of office, pulled the first legal pint in an Irish pub on Good Friday since the Intoxicating Liquor Act was passed in 1927.

Mr Long announced to a big cheer: “The publicans threw the ball up to Judge Tom O’Donnell, who went over the try line for a historic touchdown. I pull this first pint on a Good Friday in an Irish pub with a clear conscience.”

It is estimated that the game and the open pubs regime helped draw about 50,000 people to the city.

They came by car, train and bus. But Frank Quilter did one better.

He drove up from Lixnaw, Co Kerry, in his 1976 Silver Shadow Rolls Royce, accompanied by his brother Oliver and friends John Sheehy and Roger Hussey.

Frank said: “Believe it or not it’s the only Rolls Royce in Lixnaw. It was used by royalty in England at one time in the Sandringham estate. I don’t drink myself, but the lads were mad for porter and I said I’d drive.”

Scotsman David Hughes, 50, cut a dash in his tartan kilt. A native of Lanark in Scotland, David now farms in Bodyke, Co Clare.

“I first came to Limerick in the ’70s and played rugby with Shannon. My kilt is of Clare tartan,” he said.

“There’s a tartan for every county in Ireland and I researched and found the Clare tartan.

“I have always been a Munster fan. I haven’t a ticket for the match but I’ll watch it in a pub. As I’m driving back to Bodyke I’ll only allow myself two hot rums.”

Leinster rugby follower Paul Conlon, 37, travelled from Leopardstown with his Thurles-born wife Katie.

“We are staying in the Savoy Hotel in Limerick tonight. It’s great to have a few pints before the game and I am really looking forward to going to the new Thomond Park,” he said.

“I have been to many games in the old Thomond Park. I think it’s good that the pubs can open.”

Con O’Donovan from Turner’s Cross in Cork had planned to watch the game in Douglas RFC clubhouse.

“About two hours ago a friend John O’Callaghan said they were going down to Limerick to have a few pints and watch the game in a pub.

“I hopped into the car with them and here I am now. Great,” he said.

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