Friday 3 April 2015


Today is Holy Friday, so I went on a chain-saw binge in the drizzle yesterday evening.  We lost another hawthorn Crataegus monogyna in the blustery storm that came through on Monday night 30/Apr/15.  It was almost as bad as the Darwinday storm last year, what with a tree down in the lane and damage to the poly-tunnel doors.  I spent most of Wednesday rebuilding the door frame at the West end of the tunnel and rehanging the door, so chopping up the tree had to wait a day. Since ever we came to live in the country, I've had a strict observance not to use power-tools on Sunday.  There has to be one day in the week when the petulant shriek of the chain-saw or the frupp of the strimmer cannot be heard.  It might as well be Sunday, as that's the day when some of the neighbours get to sleep in and others (a diminishing minority, to be sure) are in a contemplative state before or after Mass.  If I'm going on a tool-fast on Sundays, how much more should I do so on the day the Son of God was crucified?  I should add that I am the only person in the valley who behaves like this, the valley rings with the noise of chain-saw, tractor PTO , kango-hammer, lawn-mower all Sunday long.

I wrote last year about the Fast of the Firstborn which lays an additional obligation on the oldest son to off-set the sense of privilege that he accumulates through the rest of the year.  In Ireland since 1927, the sale of alcohol on this day has been prohibited, because drink was seen to profane the memory of the events of 3rd April 33CE.  In that year the Intoxicating Liquor Act made it illegal to sell alcohol on Christmas Day, St Patrick's Day and/or Good Friday.  Paddy's Day???  Isn't that when Sean O'Phobail gets utterly trashed and forments a riot on the fringes of parades up and down the country?  Yes indeed, but only since 1960, when the ban was rescinded to accommodate the visitors to the country who come for the celebrations. The idea of high school marching bands from Ohio slipping into a boozer after their march still wearing their silly hats is deeply appealing.

The Good Friday ban was temporarily lifted in Limerick a couple of years ago because the Black Protestants had scheduled a big rugger match there-and-then and the publicans didn't want to miss racking up some sales. Next Easter is the Centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising.  There is a lot of pressure on the Minister of Justice to consign the Good Friday alcohol ban to the dustbin of history before O'Bama and McMerkel come to see the shenanigans.

What other exceptions? If you're staying in a hotel, you are a bona fide traveller, so can have a drink [R with a barista shamrock] with your meals.  If you're at a restaurant, however, you can't.  The bona fide exemption kicks in also on trains and at stations, on planes and at airports, on boats and in their associated bars at the dock-side. It used to be common for lads to go to Heuston Station, buy a ticket to Tullamore or Athy, get a few down in the station bar and then return the ticket for a refund.  It is also possible to go boozing at greyhound tracks on Good Friday, although I'm sure puritans would object to the idea of going to the dogs on the day that's in it.  And for reasons that are not clear to me, military canteens and the National Concert Hall are also allowed to sell alcoholic beverages on this day. When there are anomalies like this, you have to ask who got to the Minister in 1927 with their special interest special pleading.  Every year people comment on the sight of supermarket trollies groaning with booze on Holy Thursday as if alcohol was never to be seen again.  That's why I was getting my chain-saw out last night, so I can spend the day quietly contemplative with my family . . . and blogging more than usual.

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