The demand is linked to an economic upturn, according to gardaí, with more people going out more often than in previous years.
Nightclubs and late bars are responding by seeking orders in the courts to allow them to stay open to 2am or 2.30am.
Killarney gardaí said they have a tough approach to late night drinking and drunkenness in the town — and to compliance with the liquor licensing laws. A special exemption order costs €410 stamp duty, plus solicitors’ fees, and under liquor licensing laws it must be sought by each venue opening beyond regular closing times.
Gardaí must consent to the application. Figures released by the courts service for 2015 show there were 367 special exemption orders granted in Killarney District Court for that 12-month period.
Tralee District Court dealt with 1,358 special exemption orders granted there. Dingle had 25, Killorglin 133, Cahersiveen 158, Kenmare 66 and Listowel 157. The overall figure for the county was 2,264.
The courts service said it was generally the case the majority of the special exemptions were applied for in the local court — but they could be made throughout the courts in the Kerry District.
Killarney has a number of nightclubs /music venues and late night bars. Over the last two months, some seven premises were involved in lodging applications to open to 2am on given nights, with some premises seeking late-night closing for several nights in a week.
Killarney Sgt Dermot O’Connell, licensing sergeant, said the special order applications were generally made near the cut off — they must be made in court 48 hours before an event. Some of the Killarney applications would be dealt with in Tralee and Killorglin depending on which court was sitting.
In 2014/15 people only went out at weekends, particularly Saturday night, but that had changed, he said. In addition, many of those socialising in Killarney stayed in hotels in the town and residents bars, which could open late and did not need special exemption orders for people staying, he also said.
Bars generally are entitled to open to 12.30am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Gardaí regularly hold meetings with vintners and hoteliers in the tourist town about major event management, and late-night drinking as well as enforcement of the licensing laws.