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Drinks industry

There has been an average of 152 pub closures a year in Ireland since 2019

Analysis from the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland shows a decline of 1,937 (22.5%) of pubs in Ireland since 2005.

THERE HAS BEEN an average of 152 pub closures annually since 2019, according to new figures from the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI). 

The analysis shows a decline of 1,937 (22.5%) of pubs in Ireland since 2005. 

The 10 counties which suffered the largest percentage reduction in the number of pubs since 2005 were: Limerick (32%), Roscommon (30.3%), Cork (29.9%), Laois (29.9%), Offaly (28.7%), Leitrim (28.6%), Tipperary (28.6%), Mayo (27.8%), Longford (26.5%) and Donegal (26.3%).

The drinks group said that the rate of pub closures has accelerated since Covid-19. 

Looking at Limerick, there were 358 pubs in 2019. However, that dropped to 344 pubs in 2020, 339 pubs in 2021 and 325 pubs in 2022. 

Roscommon had 198 pubs in 2019. In 2020, that figure dropped to 189 and was lower again in 2021 with 182 pubs. Last year, there were 177 pubs open in the county. 

In Cork, there were 910 pubs in 2019. This dropped to 892 pubs in 2020, 873 pubs in 2021 and 856 pubs in 2022. 

Overall, 349 pubs closed in 2020 and 2021. 

Although all counties in Ireland experienced a decline in the number of public houses during the 2005 to 2022 period, the lowest decrease was in Dublin at 3.4%.

It should be noted that while many counties saw a continued decrease in pubs post-pandemic, Dublin has seen a slight increase. 

In 2019, there were 785 pubs in Dublin. That figure dropped to 754 in 2022 and 752 in 2021. However, the number of pubs in the capital saw a slight increase again in 2022 with 759 pubs. 

It was a similar story in Kildare which saw the number of pubs drop from 171 to 167 between 2019 and 2020, but rise again to 169 by 2022. 

Writing in DIGI’s Irish Pub: Supporting Our Communities report, the group’s chairperson Kathryn D’Arcy said that “the re-opening and rebuilding of the sector has been rapid and successful for some”. 

“To anyone walking around our nation’s capital, it must appear that hospitality is back in full lively swing,” D’Arcy said. 

“But this past year has not been a ‘return to normal’ for many. What one doesn’t see on the streets of Dublin is the continual, challenging decline of the sector in other parts of Ireland,” she said. 

D’Arcy said that some of the counties particularly impacted by pub closures “are home to some of our most rural communities, where the local pub is so often the heart of social interaction”. 

Writing in the report, economist and professor Anthony Foley said that “excise duties on alcohol continue to the significant cost of doing business for publicans, the cost to consumers and can exacerbate the challenges faced by rural pubs in particular”. 

Excise duty is charged on certain goods such as alcohol, tobacco and mineral oils.

The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland is proposing a 15% reduction in excise duties across two years. 

“A reduction in the excise rate, as proposed by DIGI, would have the effect of improving conditions for pubs in Ireland, particularly in rural areas,” Foley said. 

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