DUBLIN: Pubs in Ireland were open on Good Friday for the first time in almost a century after the repeal of a law banning sales of alcohol on the Christian holiday.
The Intoxicating Liquor Act, passed in 1927, prohibited sales in shops and bars on three days a year -- Good Friday, Christmas Day and St Patrick's Day, although the latter was exempted in 1960.
A new law passed in January repealed the ban, allowing pubs and bars to open their doors between 10:30am and 00:30 am, while local shops are also allowed to sell alcohol.
Many people have previously stocked up on alcohol in shops the day before or bought travel tickets to take advantage of exemptions for trains and ferries.
Hotels were also exempt.
The change in the law underlines the loosening hold of the Catholic Church in Ireland, although it also followed lobbying by industry bodies, who claim it will boost tourism.
The Vintners' Federation of Ireland estimates Good Friday will generate more than 40 million euros in sales for Irish pubs.
"Tourism makes a much greater contribution to our economy and this is particularly true during holidays, such as the busy Easter period," justice and equality minister David Stanton said when he introduced the law.
"In addition, changing demographics and increasing diversity in our population have led to a reduction in traditional religious practice.