Bopper Face Jacks | 

Snogs and 'shifting' were in full flow in Dublin's best known club as lockdown ended

Revellers hit the clubs for overdue taste of freedom

Revellers at Tramline.

Eugene Masterson

NEW Year's Eve came early to Ireland when the country's nightclubs threw open their doors for the first time in 590 days.

A party atmosphere gripped cities and towns across the island as fun-starved revellers brought a whole new meaning to TGIF.

Many of the kids who danced into the early hours of yesterday morning were visiting a nightclub for the first time and several looked like rabbits caught in headlights not knowing the procedures.

Mission Impossible seemed to be to get into the country's most famous club, Copper Face Jacks, which at capacity can cater for 2,300 punters.

Despite being from Dublin (with country roots) this reporter has only been in Coppers just a handful of times.

When I first saw images of the huge queues outside the venue on Friday night close to its 9pm opening time my heart sank, as I knew there was little chance of getting in.

Our man Eugene at Copper Face Jack's

Just after midnight I decided to chance my arm and me and a girl pal joined a still enormous queue which snaked past the Dean hotel.

After half an hour of barely moving, it was time to bite the bullet and seek out either Coppers owner Cathal Jackson or his son Darren, who is now beginning to take over the ropes.

A masked Cathal eventually came over and beckoned us in.

"I'm delighted!" he said, when asked what it was like to be back open. Then he had to leave to make sure everything was running smoothly at the main door.

Ex-garda Cathal (66), who never gives interviews, is a genial character and despite his wealth (the club makes a profit of about €4m a year), the Laois native lives in a modest house with his family in Castleknock, west Dublin.

Inside it was clear there was lots of staff, all masked, on hand to ensure the clientele were being kept safe - a couple of times they pulled down people trying to piggyback on each other. It was standing room only on both floors, with just a few tables capable of holding just a fraction of the large crowd.

Joining the fun in the queue at Copper Face Jack's

There were no masks anywhere to be seen except by the staff, and it was like the Coppers of old as snogs and 'shifting' were in full flow.

"Why are you wearing a mask you c**t, why don't you enjoy yourself," one boozed up punter asked of my friend while we were watching the fun from the side.

Drinks at the bar seemed easy enough to get, with punters flocking to get refills. The toilets were also well kept, with attendants on hand to clear up mess.

The average age of the punters in Coppers appeared to be mid to late 20s. That was in marked different to Tramline on Westmoreland Street, which we visited earlier and which attracted 950 people in the 18 to 21 age category.

It was also well managed with those queuing being rigorously checked both for ID and Covid vaccination certs. Downstairs in the venue many giddy teens did not know where to go or what to do as it was their first time in a club.

Tia Rooney (19), a trainee teacher from Donaghmede, was overjoyed.

"It's great to come to a nightclub like this properly and legally for the first time. It's also great to see all my friends who I haven't seen in ages."

Her pal Amanda O'Beirne (18) added: "The best thing about being here tonight is just having a life."

Taylor Boylan, also from Donaghmede (18) revealed: "It's my first time in a nightclub. I was 16 when we went into lockdown."

Tramline promoter Ian Redmond was overjoyed at the return.

"The club is packed. There are 950 kids out there dancing their socks off and it's just such a sense of relief being back open."

Enjoying the craic at Copper Face Jacks.

Some clubs did not open this weekend. Dicey's Garden/Krystle say they are waiting until next weekend as the guidelines are "not clear enough", while an insider in D2 club told us they did not apply for a licence in time.

From next weekend punters will have to buy tickets in advance. But it will be the same long queues forming outside the clubs again as party goers look set to enjoy more wild nights out.

Eugene Masterson with Coppers' owner Cathal Jackson.

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