Galway and Good Friday – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at and

Galway and Good Friday – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at and

It is no secret that Ireland is a very Catholic country. In fact, about 86% of the population is Catholic, so it should come as no surprise that they take the Easter Holiday very seriously. The Wednesday before Easter three friends and I traveled to the college town of Galway to spend our Easter Break. We figured that nothing would be open on Sunday because of Easter but we didn’t even consider what Good Friday would do to normal business hours of all the pubs that Galway is known for.

[The first stop on our pub crawl]

Wednesday had been a long travel day so I was tired and ended up having a relaxing night in the hostel. When Thursday morning came, I was ready to explore. Right when we began walking around Galway I noticed that it seemed different from when our entire study abroad group visited it back in February. It was still very busy but oddly quieter. It took me a long time to realize that the reason it was so quiet was because all of the university students had already headed home to begin their Easter breaks. The streets were packed with tourists from all over the world, not their usual student crowd.

At the end of the main street that goes through the shops of Galway, a food festival was being set up. I assume it was scheduled for that very same weekend to distract people from the fact that Good Friday meant no night life. After walking around all day, we headed back to our hostel to see if they had any planned events for the night. The reception desk had a sign encouraging people to join them on the free pub crawl that would take place at 9:30 PM. Since we had nothing else to do for the night, we all agreed that would be a fun time.

[The band at The Kings Head]

The pub crawl began in the lobby of our hostel. We were supposed to mix and mingle with the other guests setting out on this adventure with us. Two of my friends struck up a conversation with a Canadian from Vancouver but other than that, we mostly just talked to each other until it was finally time to set out to the first pub. By the time we left, it was already past ten o’clock. The first place we went to was called Garvey’s. They had a small band playing live music and apparently, an entire soccer team from Manchester happened to be there. After dancing along to the band for about forty-five minutes, we headed to a pub called the Kings Heads.

As we walked to the pub, I noticed the streets were oddly bare. It was only 11 O’clock but some of the pubs had already shut down for the night. When we got into the next pub, the leader of our group told us that in a half an hour the pub would stop selling alcohol. That seemed odd to us because we had never heard of a pub not serving any kind of drinks. Later we found out they do this because it is actually illegal to sell alcohol on Good Friday and Good Friday begins right when the clock strikes midnight. Our group made the mistake of leaving the Kings Heads to go to another popular pub down the street called The Quay’s. Even though there was still half an hour before Thursday became Friday, all the pubs were no longer letting people in.

[One of the most popular pubs in Galway all locked up on Good Friday]

Defeated, we decided to head back to the hostel. We were walking down the street when an odd group of clearly intoxicated boys formed in the middle of the street. They lifted one of the boys up and he led the group in a traditional Irish drinking song. The rest of the group joined in when they knew the words but otherwise it was mostly just the boy crowd surfing singing. It was quite the sight to see.

The next morning when we walked through the town all the pubs were closed and pad locked behind their gates. The only pubs that were open only served food until a certain time in the evening and then they too had to close their gate. It was odd walking through a city that is known for all of its pubs and having all of those pubs closed down. It was clear that many of the tourist were disappointed by the closing of the pubs. They, like us, probably hadn’t even thought about the effect that Good Friday would have on their trip to Galway.

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17 responses to “Galway and Good Friday – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at and

    • Reid Peterson

      I was immediately attracted to this article for two main reasons: 1) I am going to Ireland in the Spring of 2019 for a study abroad trip and 2) I am Catholic so I have some background when it comes to Good Friday. As Catholic Ireland is, it doesn’t surprise me that this no-serving-alcohol-on-Good-Friday-tradition is instituted across the entire country. In the Catholic Church, Good Friday is marked as the day Catholics remember the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This is an extremely holy day where traditionally some style of fasting and time of penance is taken seriously. Though the Ireland government is showing respect to the Catholic members of its country, is it morally right to regulate the selling of alcohol in the ENTIRE country as illegal during Good Friday? This plays into a dangerous game when religion plays a part in the political sphere. Are those that don’t celebrate Good Friday now being forced to participate in a system that doesn’t even fall within their beliefs?

    • DyAnna Grondahl


      Thank you for sharing. I think it is very interesting how seriously good Friday is taken in Ireland. I couldn’t wrap my head around the holidays of “Fat Tuesday,” “Ash Wednesday,” and “Good Friday” until probably 5 or 6 years ago. I had an aha moment, but they still don’t stick out as holidays. I find it fascinating that the city more or less shuts down for the holiday.


  1. Hanna McLevish

    This was fun to read! It is interesting that they don’t sell any alcohol on Good Friday, but that is probably because of their intense catholic background. I really enjoyed watching the video. I recently got accepted into the Ireland program for next spring so seeing things like that and reading things like this have got me so excited for next spring! Thanks so much for sharing all of your awesome stories and adventures.

  2. Sarah Plankers

    Wow, what an interesting experience for you and your study abroad group. That video made me laugh, although it was really cool to see a cultural tradition embedded even within the college-age community. We can’t say that there’s anything like that in the states, that’s for sure. The whole idea of a dominant religion in country that effects normal things like business hours, etc. is interesting to reflect on because I feel like in the U.S. there is a growing attitude of always having things open even on the most revered holidays. I wonder if in the future, although Ireland is dominantly Catholic, there will be a change in business hours and things being open or universities holding class later due to an ever-modernizing society.

  3. Michaela Campbell

    Victoria, I love this article because I have always wanted to do a pub crawl here in Duluth, but I have never had the chance. So when I noticed that your article was discussing your experience in Galway and participating in a pub crawl there, it caught my attention! Having been raised Catholic myself, it is so fascinating how important Good Friday is to Irish, as well as the Easter weekend. I wonder how American culture would react if bars had to close at a certain time on this holiday, or if there was national US legislation that made it illegal to serve alcohol on Good Friday? It poses a lot of questions in terms of religious practices, especially how the same religion is honored in other countries in different ways, with your experience at Galway being a great example. Great article!

  4. Thomas Landgren

    Thank you for sharing more about your time studying abroad in Ireland. You guys were lucky when it came to holidays that have a strong presence in Ireland. You guys got to experience what St. Patrick’s day was like in Ireland and you got to experience Easter. It is interesting to see how the people of Ireland behave so differently during Easter weekend. I never knew that you weren’t supposed to drink on Good Friday. It is also weird that pubs close completely down. It is as if Ireland turned into a different country for a day. What a cool thing to experience!

  5. Katelyn Fischer

    Reading about your Easter adventure in Ireland was really fasinating for me. Traveling abroad is something many students do not get experience. It’s also really interesting for me, as a Catholic, to see how other countries and cultures celebrate the same holidays I do. It seems to me, that as a Catholic in the United States, we do not celebrate, so to speak, many holidays as traditionally as many other countries with a large catholic population. I have seen celebrations of church holidays celebrated in small communities in Guatemala, and they are much more vibrant and interactive than anything I have ever experienced here in the States. It’s amazing to me how the same religion can celebrate the same thing so differently.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  6. Ryan Sauve

    It sounds like you had a very interesting experience. I think that it is very unique and cool to experience how local customs and celebrations can bring a city to a standstill in a matter of hours. I bet you learned more about Irish culture in that day than you would have on a normal day. You got a unique view into the celebration of a sacred holiday to them, albeit ruining your night of pub crawling. In the US, I know several bars that are open on Christmas because some people like to gather there and spend time with people they know when they have nowhere else to go. I wonder how religion and holidays affect businesses around the world? Great article!

  7. Victoria,

    It is so interesting to see how holidays are celebrated abroad. My family is Catholic (though we don’t really go to church), so holidays are more so just family get-togethers rather than days of religious observations. I do admire that even though there were a good amount of tourists in Galway, the community stayed true to its values & closed their doors. Bummer for you guys, though, but I’m glad you still got to have some fun!


  8. Jacob Kallenbach


    I really enjoyed your article. I went to Ireland last year over winter break so I can connect really well with your experiences over there. I am also catholic, so I can believe that they would do that on good Friday. When we were in Ireland, nearly everybody there we talked to and got to know were Catholic. It is the main religion in Ireland and they are very proud of it. I always think it is fascinating to see how religions in other countries affect holiday activities. Next, Ireland loves their pubs. We stayed right next to Temple Bar in the nightlife of Dublin, every night of the week you could hear singing and pub songs till at least 4 in the morning. Sleep doesn’t matter when you are having fun right? All the pubs are extremely welcoming and chatty as well, I had many great conversations and made great friends who currently still reside in Ireland. For a Catholic who likes to have fun, Ireland is the perfect travel spot for me and I recommend it to anyone looking for a place to travel. You will have the time of your life.

  9. Owen Granger

    My entire family is Irish and not surprisingly Catholic, so I very much enjoyed reading your article. I too had no idea that it was illegal for alcohol to be sold on Good Friday. I know for a fact that my grandmothers would be very stern about that idea as well. I am sure that even though it may have been a disappointment that all the pubs were closed, it also must have been a very interesting experience. Most people would not get the opportunity to see what you have and that is a very fascinating thing. I will keep a mental note though to make sure that I do not plan a pub crawl on Good Friday.

  10. Ellery Bruns

    I am not Catholic, nor am I that religious, so I don’t know much about the meaning behind Good Friday. All I know is that my family celebrates Easter. But from your article, it is clearly demonstrated the power and importance of religious holidays to those who are apart of and practice the religion. That being said, I like you, found it different than what I am used to that the pubs closed down because of Good Friday. That is interesting to me. I wonder how those who are not Catholic, or Christian, are affected by laws, similar to the one prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Good Friday, that are due to Catholic traditions and celebrations. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Marissa Mikrot

    What an experience you’ve had! It’s obvious, especially after reading your article, that many people don’t think about religious holidays while traveling abroad. For me, it’s often why I travel, but I have never considered travelling to a predominantly Catholic country to observe how they participate. This does make me wonder how many tourists enter other countries during their dominant religious holidays. Do you think they are surprised and possibly disappointed by what they find?

  12. Jacob Moran

    Coming from a devout Catholic family it’s no surprise to me to see a country that reveres Good Friday so much. I know in my family Good Friday is a very somber day with not much talking or really doing anything. I think the fact that Ireland seems to be a pretty Catholic country that they may take religion more serious than us here in the States. It’s interesting to learn that the sell of alcohol is actually illegal. I wonder how that would go over here, I don’t think people would take to kindly to that. Really interesting article and thanks for sharing!

  13. Kristeljei Baltazar


    Thank you for sharing your experience in Ireland! I wanted to read this post because Easter is just around the corner! Reading your article, I couldn’t help but compare it to how the Philippines would celebrate Easter weekend. My memory is a little blurry but from what I remember, there’s a lot of things that go on during this time of year in the Philippines. But there’s one practice that still kind of traumatized me today. This particular ritual is called “Padugo.” This is when men would walk around town, barefooted, blindfolded, and without a shirt. Usually, they would have someone make cuts on their back and stimulate the bleeding with some type of rope with wood sticks at the end. There are also men that would crawl around town with people hitting them with the sticks. By the time Good Friday comes, there’s one man that would act like Jesus and the town would crucify him. I remember celebrating this occasion for a whole week. Reading this post makes me miss the Philippines because it’s so much different from what we do here in America.
    Another reason why I wanted to read this post was that this week, our World History I class is reading chapter seven of Worlds Together World Apart by Tignor et al., and it was interesting how they mentioned Jesus towards the end of the chapter. It talked about how a Roman governor, Pontius Pilatus tried Jesus or Yeshua ben Yosef and was guilty of sedition and executed by a standard Roman penalty, crucifixion Overall, thank you for this amazing post.


    Tignor et al. Worlds together, worlds apart: A history of the world from the beginnings of humankind to the present. 5th ed. Vol. 1. New York. W.W Norton & Company, 2018.

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