DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) _ They were celebrating Thursday in Ireland _ and doing it even longer.

Extended pub opening hours that went into effect mean alcohol can be served until 12:30 a.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and up to 11:30 p.m. Mondays to Wednesdays. Previously, all pubs had to stop serving at 11 p.m.

The Sunday closing time remains 11 p.m., but the so-called ``holy hour,'' when pubs shut from 2-4 p.m. Sundays, will be abolished.

Justice Minister John O'Donoghue said the act that changed the hours was the culmination of a wide-ranging review of the country's licensing laws, many of which date back to the early 1800s.

``I am pleased to respond positively to the clear public demand for longer opening hours which reflect discernible and consistent change in the social patterns of consumers in recent years,'' he said.

The act also includes a crackdown on under-age drinking by abolishing the ``reasonable grounds'' defense that allowed pub operators to avoid prosecution.

``For the first time ever, no defense will be acceptable for selling alcohol to minors,'' O'Donoghue said.