The great reopening: ‘There was just so much relief and to be honest it was a bit surreal. It’s been a long two years’

The announcement of the end of the pandemic restrictions was greeted with a wave of euphoria and relief by the hospitality industry, tourism and the general business community

Willie Ahern of the Palace Bar on Fleet Street in Dublin serving his father Liam the first pint yesterday morning after all restrictions relating to opening hours were lifted. Picture: Fergal Phillips

The doors of the Palace Bar in Dublin city centre had no sooner swung open on Friday evening when Willie Aherne, its proprietor, found himself enveloped in an embrace.

Out of the cold January night emerged a cohort of the town’s publicans, carried to Fleet Street on a wave of euphoria and relief as the restrictions that had curtailed their livelihoods for the best part of two years entered their final hours. They’d gathered, in ...