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ATHY FARMERS' CLUB - SUNDAY LIQUOR TRAFFIC

The Leinster Express, January 14, 1871
 
 
 
ATHY FARMERS’ CLUB – SUNDAY LIQUOR TRAFFIC.
 
 
At the next meeting of the Athy Farmers’ Club a paper on the closing of public-houses on Sunday will be read by Mr A.M. Sullivan, of Dublin. The question whether public-houses should be closed during the entire Sabbath, is one which affects the agricultural community very nearly, and it is to be greatly wondered that landed proprietors and farmers have not hitherto taken a prominent part in its discussion. The “Sunday Closing” movement has been left almost altogether in the hands of professional gentlemen and manufacturers who are not more deeply concerned in the movement than the employers of agricultural labour. Now and then some members of a Farmers’ Club has attempted to arouse the agricultural community to a proper appreciation of the question, but these isolated efforts have always failed to evoke a proper response. We trust, however, that the lecture to be delivered by Mr Sullivan on Wednesday next will induce the farmers and land proprietors, in our district at least, to take an interest in the movement. We do not know on what premises Mr Sullivan bases his argument in favour of the closing of public-houses. We know, however, that there are arguments against the present system of allowing public-houses to remain open during a portion of Sunday, which must present themselves to every one who has given the question a moment’s consideration. Few of us approve of the French mode of observing the Sabbath. We object to race meetings being held and theatres being open on the day we fancy we observe so strictly ourselves. The parable of the mote and the beam would, we fear, refer to us in this matter. We forbid our race committees to hold races on Sundays, we close our theatres, but we open our public-houses. Our labourers must not observe Sunday as the naughty Frenchman observes it, but we tempt him to make a beast of himself in our public-houses.
About three years ago Mr W.B. Brownrigg in an able paper read at one of the monthly meetings of the Athy Farmers’ Club, dwelt with considerable force upon the evil effects of intemperance upon the condition of the working classes. “The greatest hindrance,” he said, “to our progress as a country and individually is our growing national vice of intemperance. To exaggerate its evils would be impossible. If we take the very lowest ground, it is a loss of capital to the country, loss of industry, time, savings to those who drink, loss of money to the State for the support of gaols, poorhouses, lunatic asylums, reformatories – nine tenth of the inmates of which find their way there through intemperance, as every judge that sat on the bench and every medical man of eminence has testified.” Mr Brownrigg might truly have assigned as the principal cause of all this evil the law which permits the sale of liquors on  Sundays. Habits of intemperance among the working classes are, in nine cases out of ten, contracted in public-houses on Sunday afternoons. Mr Thos. Robertson was not in error when he described the Sunday liquor traffic to be at the bottom of all the demoralization of the labourer. We do not agree with those who argue that the closing of public-houses on Sunday would be productive of greater evils than the Sunday liquor traffic. The majority of labourers, it is said, would, if no public-houses were to transact business on Sunday, purchase liquor on Saturday for use on the Sabbath. Thus, it is said, temptation would be brought nearer to the wives and daughters of many families. To adopt this argument we must forget the nature of the Irish people. It is not the love of liquor so much as the love of company that leads an Irishman into intemperate habits.
 

The Leinster Express in January 1871 reports on a paper to be read at Athy Farmers' Club on the question of whether public-houses should be closed on the Sabbath.


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