CITY pubs have been given permission to open at 10.30am this Easter Sunday ahead of the crunch Heineken Cup clash with Ulster in Thomond Park.
Pubs will be allowed to trade two hours earlier than normal on Sunday to cater for the huge influx of rugby fans expected in the city for the quarter-final, which kicks off at 1.45pm.
Ulster Rugby supporters have taken their full allocation for Thomond Park – numbering some 6,400 tickets – and Limerick is expected to revel in a carnival atmosphere as the big game takes centre stage this Easter weekend.
Jerry O’Dea, Limerick’s national executive council delegate with the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI), who has a pub on Mulgrave Street, led the city-wide application for the pub exemption, which was granted by Judge Eamon O’Brien in the District Court.
“We have two exemptions, an area exemption for Saturday night/Sunday morning until 1.30am and we also have an exemption to open early on Sunday morning for the match because there will be visitors in town making an occasion of it,” explained Mr O’Dea.
“It gives us an extra two hours in the morning because the match is an early one and we are hoping to facilitate the visitors that are coming to town. We would like to have our doors open and Limerick needs a boost like this,” he added.
Punters will also be able to enjoy a drink on Good Friday this year, as Limerick Greyhound Stadium confirmed it is to open and serve booze this Friday night.
Greyhound stadia are among the few licensed venues to be exempt from the Good Friday restrictions on the sale of alcohol and while racing has traditionally enjoyed a break on the Easter holiday, the Irish Greyhound Board have confirmed that Limerick Greyhound Stadium will open this year.
Sales, commercial and operations manager Imelda Cahalan said that racegoers had requested the move to open on Good Friday.
“Ireland has undergone massive social change in recent years, and like any other business we must move with the changing times and respond to customer demand,” she explained.
“A number of racegoers have in recent years requested that greyhound racing take place on Good Friday. In 2010, Limerick saw similar opening with the exemptions in place for the Munster rugby match, and now it is the turn of the sport of greyhound racing to provide an entertainment option on Good Friday.
“We are confident as always that visitors will enjoy a truly great night,” she added.
Ten live greyhound races will take place in the stadium this Friday, with doors open at 6.30pm. Bars will close at 11pm, with the stadium to close soon after at 11.30pm.
Sunday’s match against Ulster Rugby is a total sell-out and almost 27,000 are expected to throng Thomond Park.
Flags are to be distributed to fans in the city centre before the match, while local bands are to perform at hotspots lining the route from the city centre to Thomond Park.