The hours of permitted trading are set out in the Intoxicating Liquor Acts. The general opening hours on Monday Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday are 10:30 AM to 11:30 PM. On Friday and Saturday closing is extended to 12:30 AM on the following day.

On Sundays opening hours are between 12:30 PM and 11 PM. Where a public holiday other than Christmas Eve is on a weekday opening hours are extended to 12:30 AM on the following day.

Saint Patrick’s Day is subject to opening hours of 12:30 PM to 12:30 AM on the following day. Trading is not permitted on Christmas Day. Formerly trading was not permitted on Good Friday, but this restriction has been removed.

The general opening hours for off-licences/sale for consumption off the premises is 10:30 AM to 10 PM. This is 12:30 PM to 10 PM on a Sunday and St Patrick’s Day.

Outside of the permitted hours it is an offence to sell or expose for sale open or keep open a premises for the sale of intoxicating liquor or permit it to be consumed on the premises.

In the case of a special restaurant licence the general opening hours are 12:30 PM one hour after expiration of the general opening hours.

Generally 30 minutes drinking up time is allowed after normal closing time in respect of general publican on licences. This does not apply in respect of periods when alcohol may be served only with a meals in a hotel or restaurants, or in an area permitted by an area exemption order or occasional licence. The licensee may not provide or permit entertainment during this 30 minute period.

It is an offence for a person to be on a licensed premises during a time when the sale of intoxicating liquor is prohibited. There are exceptions for the licence holder, residents employees in the course of employment and persons undertaking work on the premises.

Generally, non-licensed business may be undertaken at any time lawfully allowed. This would typically constitute the  sale of food.

The Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 provides that in the case of mixed businesses (licensed and unlicensed) the sale and display of alcohol must be exclusively confined to a part of the premises which is structurally separated from the rest by means of a wall or similar barrier with access through a gate door turnstile to which the public do not have to pass to obtain access to the rest of the premises in which non-licensed business is carried on and where the only place which intoxicating liquor can be paid for is a counter or point of sale in that area. Where this is not practicable due to is the size and nature of the premises there is an alternative of confining sale and display to a particular part of the premises.

The legislation has not been commenced and instead a Code of Conduct by retailers and traders has been put in place on a voluntary basis. The Code in effect operates in lieu of the above provision but on a more flexible basis in particular in the interests of smaller traders.

A copy of the code must be displayed. The code provides that alcohol products shall be displayed only in parts to which customers do not have to pass to gain access to the remainder of the premises. There are limits on in-store advertising of alcohol. The sale of alcohol is confined to the standard hours.  In effect the requirements of the code will be required to be implemented in the context of licensing applications.

Generally a publican may open during such hours as he or she chooses notwithstanding the common law notion of an inn which entails obligations to serve the public generally. Prolonged non-trading may be a ground for refusal of renewal of the licence. Special obligations apply to hotels. They have a greater obligation to receive guests.

Residents staying in a licensed premises may be sold and supplied with intoxicating liquor outside of standard hours.

A licensee may supply intoxicating liquor to bona fide friends at his or her own expense in a part of the premises other than that which in which the sale of intoxicating liquor generally takes place.

Most of the above offences are subject on summary conviction to a class D fine for a first offence and a class C fine for subsequent offences. The conviction may be ordered to be recorded on the licence if the court directs.

In prosecutions for breach of opening hour obligations, it is presumed that a standard licence applies.

Breach of the opening hour restriction  commonly involves a number of offences including

  • sale of intoxicating liquor
  • exposure for sale
  • opening of the premises for the sale
  • opening the premises
  • permitting intoxicating liquor to be consumed

Persons on the premises and/or consuming alcohol outside of the permitted hours commit an offence unless they come within a narrow number of exceptions of the type mentioned above.

A member of An Garda Siochana may  require such persons to furnish their name and address. If it is reasonably suspected that they have given a false or misleading name further evidence may be required. The failure to furnish such evidence is an offence. A Garda may arrest without warrant a person who fails or refuses to give his name and address or further evidence thereof.

A special exemption order may be granted by the District Court on application. It allows for the sale and consumption of intoxicating liquor on special occasions outside normal licensing hours. An ordinary publican’s licence licensee may make application for an exemption order on a special occasion.

There are certain categories of special occasion. Where the applicant holds a dance licence the special occasion may be a dance on the premises with or without a meal.A dance under the legislation includes a modern discotheque with pre-recorded music

It may be a special event organised for the entertainment of the members of a particualr associaiton organisation or group or a private functionm at which a substantial meal is served. The order may be granted up to 2:30 am except on Sundays which are not followed by a bank holiday.

The court must be satisfied that the premises complies with the applicable building regulation and will not cause nuisance or inconvenience to persons in the vicinity or risk public disorder. The local authority may adopt a resolution regulating the expiry time.

A substantial meal one is might be expected to be served as a midday or evening meal or as a main course. If must be such which having regard to prices for such a meal charged on the premises at other times or if not otherwise served €9 (variable by ministerial order). The meal need not necessarily be charged separatley . It may be included in the admission price.

An occasional licence permits th elicence holder to sell liquor at a place where there is no licence attached. It may be granted on application by the District Court if there is a special event being held in place concern. It may be granted for a period of up to 6 days. They should form part of the same special event.

Permitted times under the licence granted should not be later than 10 PM or before 8 AM unless they relate to a dinner dance. An occasional licence for a dance may not be granted for an outside area or temporary structures such as a marquee. A substantial meal must be provided on the occasion of the dance unless it is wholly or partly a special festivity generallly or in the area concerned.

A licence will not be granted for special events on days of special festivirty for premises for more than six days in a year. It must be more than a private party such as a wedding.

On occasional licence or special exemption order may be granted to a club or organisation for a festival consisting wholly or mainly of er presentation of performances of music dance plays or showing of a film or a combination thereof. It may be held at a a licensed premises or a theatre

An area exemption order may be granted for local festivals. It allows extended hours in the area concerned. It cannot be granted for more than 12 days. One licence holder may make the application for the benefit of the licensee in the locality.

A general exemption order may be made for trading on weekdays in the vicinity of a public market place which considerable numbers of persons follow a lawful trade or calling. They may only be granted for premises where they were previously granted prior to 2008 for the purposes. The earliest it may commence is 5 AM persons for attending a public fair or market and 7 AM in other cases.

A nightclub is effectively a premises that have a publican’s licence or hotel licence a public dancing licence and in urban areas a music and singing licence. Alternatively it may be a premises with a wine retail licence and restaurant certificate together with the public dancing licence. It may be a theatre with a public dancing licence. It is may have the benefit of longer opening hours by reason of a special exemption order..


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