Concerns over decline in number of pubs in every county

Industry is major regional employer with Carlow-Kilkenny hospitality and drinks businesses enabling 4,654 jobs

Darren Hassett

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Darren Hassett

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In 2017, there were 7,140 pubs nationwide – a decline from 8,617 in 2005. Rural counties saw the most significant drop in pubs

There were 1,477 fewer pubs in Ireland last year than in 2005, representing a 17.1% drop in businesses across the country, according to the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) today.

In 2017, there were 7,140 pubs nationwide – a decline from 8,617 in 2005. The figures are based on an analysis of the liquor licence figures published by Revenue, which tracks the number of premises that have publican’s licences (seven-day licences that allow the sale of beer, wine and spirits to be consumed on-site).

Rural counties saw the most significant drop in pubs, which serve as a major source of employment regionally. In 2005, there were 7,831 pubs in Ireland outside of Dublin. In 2017, that number dropped by 18.7% to 6,367.

In contrast to publican’s licences, off licences saw an increase of 11.8% since 2005. Some 3,331 premises registered an off licence in 2017, compared to 2,966 in 2005. Licences for wine-only bars and restaurants were also up 3.1% since 2005.

“The number of pubs are down 17.1% in the period from 2005 to 2017 which is a worrying statistic," said Padraig Cribben, Chief Executive Officer, Vintners’ Federation of Ireland and member of DIGI said.

He added: "These pubs are small businesses, mainly in rural Ireland, that provide significant employment and continue to create jobs in local communities.

"In Carlow-Kilkenny alone, hospitality and drinks businesses enable 4,654 jobs while in Donegal, there are 368 pubs and 7,445 jobs supported by the industry. This demonstrates the scale of employment that this sector creates rurally.

“However, the sharp decline in the number of pubs is worrying and is further evidence of the need to monitor the industry and ensure the necessary supports are in place to reverse this trend."