Alcohol in Pubs
To legally consume alcohol in a pub, bar, nightclub, or restaurant, you must be over 18 years of age, and you must be able to prove your age if you’re asked. Under the Intoxicating Liquor Act, anyone over the age of 18 who wants to purchase or consume alcohol in a pub must carry an ‘age document’ to prove that they are above the legal age. This can be a driving license or passport, but many people choose to carry a Garda age card which an accepted proof of age in Ireland.
Young people under the age of 18 are welcome in family-friendly establishments - and may be present at the bar as long as they’re accompanied by an adult - until 9pm. However, they are not permitted to drink (and if you’re caught offering a minor a few sneaky sips of Baileys you can get thrown out - pub owners don’t want to take the risk). If you’re attending an event, like a wedding for example, children can remain at the establishment past the 9pm curfew.
Drinking in Public
Think Ireland’s laws on alcohol are strict? Think again! Unlike Poland, Norway, and most parts of the United States and Canada, there are no open container laws in Ireland, meaning it’s legal to drink in public places - great if you want ‘one for the road’ or fancy drinking away from the hustle and bustle. Again, drinking in public places is legal for the over 18s only. Under 18s are not permitted to consume alcohol outside of a private residence.
There are a few conditions on public drinking, however. If you purchase a closed container at an off license - a bottle of wine, for example - you cannot consume it within 100 metres of the off license. You won’t be sent to prison for doing so, but you can end up with a hefty fine. You must also keep public drinking a bit low key - if you’re acting drunk, you can receive a 500 Euro fine and have your Jameson confiscated!
Alcohol in the Home
Good news for the under 18s - alcohol can legally be drunk by a minor at home with the consent of a parent or guardian. There are many debates regarding when to introduce children to alcohol, but being open and honest about drinking can encourage sensible alcohol use in later life, which is why
Irish law states that children may sample alcohol in moderation under a parent's supervision.
Alcohol and Driving
Ireland’s laws for consuming alcohol before getting behind the wheel are similar to laws across most of Europe. The legal limit is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. This is roughly equivalent to one pint of beer, or one small glass of wine, but how much alcohol you have in your system will be dependent on your size, weight, and many other factors including how much you’ve had to eat.
Remember that it doesn’t matter how much you’ve had to drink - 1 pint or 10 - if you’re driving dangerously and are showing that you’re under the influence, you can be fined, given points on your license, or you could even receive a driving disqualification or full ban. 1 in every 3 road accident fatalities in Ireland are due to alcohol , so be sensible when it comes to drinking and driving.