Alcohol: Enjoy...Sensibly

We all like to let our hair down, especially on holiday - particularly when visiting a place renowned for its amazing pub culture.

Let's face it, drinking is highly likely to be part of your Dublin experience, so a few points to note before you begin throwing back the gargle...


Conduct In Licensed Premises/Public

As long as you’re enjoying alcohol responsibly, ‘you’ll be grand’ in most instances. But if you are becoming a nuisance (or worse), please be aware that it is an offence to engage in disorderly conduct in a licenced premises in Ireland. Or to be so drunk in public that you might cause yourself (or someone else) harm, for that matter. In reality, it’s unlikely to be an issue and in most instances, you might be asked by the Gardai (police) to shut up and move along. Though in serious cases, you might be invited to the nearest station for another kind of Dublin hospitality.

If you’re in any doubt as to what ‘disorderly conduct’ consists of, here's a bit of light reading on the Citizen’s Information website. So unless you particularly want to end your evening by spending some quality time in a cell with the Gardai for company, you know what to do.


Legal Drinking Age

You must be 18 to buy alcohol or consume it in public (if you are under 18, you can only drink it in a private residence with permission from your parents). It is also an offence to pretend that you are over 18 in order to buy or drink alcohol.

Young people under the age of 18 are not allowed in licensed premises during extended hours (except in certain circumstances).

Driving Under The Influence

It goes without saying that it’s never a good idea to endanger yourself or others by driving drunk (anywhere in the world). We’ll still mention that in Ireland it is illegal to drive or be in charge of a vehicle if you are under the influence of alcohol. Drink driving is a very serious offence in Ireland. 

The legal limit for fully licenced drivers is 50 milligrammes of alcohol per 100ml of blood. The legal limit for professional and learner drivers is 20 milligrammes of alcohol per 100ml of blood. Local police (An Garda Siochána) have powers to set up random breath-test checkpoints, and they often do. When there are plentiful taxis readily available, rural pub tours can be arranged or one of your party will often happily volunteer to be the designated driver - why tempt fate and court disaster? In a word...don't.

Time Gentlemen, Please...

Gentlemen and ladies, that is. Hours vary in Dublin's licenced premises (pubs, clubs etc), but most pubs open around noon. Can't wait until then? Find yourself an Early House - serving from about 7am for those just coming off the night shift (or those who never made it home and are still out on the town). You can often get breakfast with your morning pint, but beware - a well-run Early House won't tolerate nonsense from all-night partiers.

On weeknights last orders are at about 11.30pm for establishments with ‘normal’ licenses - your average pub for example. It’s a bit earlier on Sundays, and a bit later on Friday/Saturday night. The usual procedure is for last orders to be announced (the lights may flicker to prompt you), at which point you ask for what you want. Then, after the final drinks of the evening are served, you have about an hour to drink up (hence this is unsurprisingly known as ‘drinking up time’). Late bars/clubs with ‘late’ licenses can be open until 3am or so.

If you intend to purchase booze at the corner shop or supermarket, plan ahead - off-licence sales of alcohol are only permitted between the hours of 10.30am and 10.00pm weekdays/Saturdays and 12.30pm to 10.00pm on Sundays. There's nothing sadder than the sight of a lost soul standing in the shop at ten minutes past ten, looking longingly at the locked-away liquor...

Along those lines, there are two days of the year when you will have difficulty getting drink if you haven't already socked in supplies - Good Friday and Christmas Day. The ban on these days extends to alcohol in pubs, restaurants, off-licences and supermarkets. That said, there are exceptions to the sweeping Good Friday and Christmas Day bans, as you can read here. There was historically a third 'dry' day on the Irish calendar - St Patrick's Day. However, the law relating to St Patrick's Day was repealed in the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1960 - and green-garbed revellers have been making up for lost time ever since.