The first year I lived in Ireland, I learned about all sorts of interesting and bizarre little practises that you probably wouldn't stumble across as a tourist visiting for a couple of weeks. The one that amused me most had to do with alcohol. It is against the law to sell alcohol on Good Friday. I'm not a big consumer (in both senses of the word) of alcohol, so this is an issue that wouldn't even appear on my radar.
Except that I had to run to the shop to pick up a few things to cook dinner on Holy Thursday. The place was mobbed, which was unusual for a Thursday afternoon. Then I noticed that nearly everyone in line had multiple cases of beer. Was there a sale going on? No. This was a case of panic buying, pure and simple. With the pubs and off-licenses closed on Good Friday, everyone was stocking up. I smiled at the thought of anyone feeling that they had to lay in massive supplies of alcohol to cover one dry day.
Fast-forward three years, to my life in the Middle of Nowhere. I was doing the weekly shop yesterday, which was even more massive than usual given that we're having four friends over for the holiday weekend. Peter had added a bottle of 12-year old Jameson to the shopping list and I'd asked him about beer. "No, don't worry about it. We'll go into Macroom tomorrow and get beer."
Fair enough. I finished my normal round of shopping (Lidl, Dunnes, and the butcher), then went to the off-license for the Jameson. Only the off-license has apparently gone out of business. (How is that even possible? And how long have I not noticed that it's gone?) I remembered the off-license in the Super-Valu was fairly extensive, so off I went, found what I needed, and was about to pay up when the realisation hit me - tomorrow's Good Friday, Peter won't be able to buy beer.
Forty-eight bottles of beer, 2 bottles of wine, and 1 bottle of Baileys (with chocolate cups!) later, I realised that I'd become one of those mildly amusing panic-buyers. But I was powerless to stop it, the thought of running out of alcohol with a house full of guests was not something I could countenance. Finally, three years later, I understand the great Irish tradition of panic-buying massive quantities of alcohol on Holy Thursday.