Longer nights for Irish pubs and clubs introduces as many potential issues as the ones it aims to solve

The expanding of opening hours for pubs and clubs across Ireland is a win for Irish nightlife only if predictable obstacles are accounted for, and soon

News of the change to pub and nightclub opening hours has quickly gained much attention and discussion from the public, both positive and negative, and it is easy to see why. On the one hand, it is a massive change and will have a real impact on Dublin’s nightlife culture, which shouldn’t be taken lightly. Moreover, while it’s a needed change to modernise Ireland and catch up with the rest of Europe’s entertainment scene, many adjustments will be needed to make this a success.

Ireland has a caricature reputation for a strong drinking and party culture, one stereotype that encourages a considerable amount of tourism. Due to this fact, the original standard of 11.30pm pub closures on weekdays is quite bizarre, particularly compared to other European countries. The original closing times are also extremely antiquated, relying on decades-old statutes that necessitate an update to reflect modern standards.

“… Ireland’s nightlife may be able to more fairly compete with the renowned party cities of Europe, like Barcelona and Berlin.”

Many European countries do not have mandated closing times for clubs; if they do, it’s rarely before 3am. By expanding the closing time of pubs to 12.30am, late bars to 2.30am, and clubs to 6am, Dublin’s nightlife scene will be able to flourish for both residents and tourists. It won’t stop us from going on holiday for better weather, sure, but Ireland’s nightlife may be able to more fairly compete with the renowned party cities of Europe, like Barcelona and Berlin.

Where I was a bit more conflicted was the opening of clubs until 6am. To be fair, there are reasonable worries that accompany this, like the need for increased Gardaí patrol at this time of the day. 6am closures may mean drunk or unruly people still on the streets or trekking home all the way up to 7.30am, a time when many are just beginning the work or school day. This is an issue faced by many cities, though, who can adequately cope with it through reasonable resources in place. 

One very important change that will be needed when pub, bar, and club opening hours are expanded is the updating of public transportation hours. It’s already a challenge for many that LUAS and most bus services stop around the same time as pub closures and hours before club closures, one that will be exacerbated by the expansion of nightlife hours.

Then again, it’s unlikely all, or even most clubs will opt to stay open until 6am for the sake of it. Many will adapt to demand and respond to the preferences of their patrons, utilising the ability to close later at certain high-demand days or times. Especially during summer and the holidays, this will be welcomed by many (particularly the student population, who lament 2.30am club closures). In contrast, many may stick to the tried and true 3-4am shut times during the year.

A lot can be said about the allure of having a “city that doesn’t sleep” in terms of both tourism and the appeal of nightlife to the city’s own residents. In a way, I’d feel safer coming home later if I’m not part of a very small minority. If the streets have more of a late-night presence and atmosphere, it will encourage a buzz that will bring Dublin an even better spirit and a well-needed boost to put life back into our Irish nightlife scene.