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

  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!

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