By Pádraig Hoare
Cork has the highest number of pubs in the country with nearly 1,000 licenced premises, while Mayo has a pub for every 323 people, a new report has found.
AIB’s Pub Outlook for 2018 showed Cork had 955 pubs in 2017, or one for every 543 people.
Kerry had 435 pubs, or one for every 334 people, compared with Dublin’s 722 pubs — one for every 1,649 people.
The honour for the most pubs per person in the country lies with Mayo, with 373 pubs or one for every 323 people.
Galway and Tipperary both had more than 400 pubs each. Laois has the lowest amount of pubs in the Republic at 123, or one for every 713 people.
The report — which relied on data from Revenue, AIB Merchant Services, and the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland — suggests thirsty British tourists have been playing their part in turnover for publicans, even though visitor numbers from the UK are down year on year.
British drinkers are particularly fond of Donegal, with more than 16% of turnover in its 365 pubs coming from UK visitors. Laois and Roscommon are the two least popular with UK visitors, who provide less than 2% of turnover in each.
US visitors are also attached to the Irish pub experience, with a 9%-plus rise in visitors last year, according to AIB’s head of hospitality and tourism, David McCarthy.
Some 85% of the turnover in pubs is from domestic customers, while 5% comes from UK visitors, 5% is from US visitors, and 5% comes from the rest of the world, he said.
Using data from the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation, the AIB report says nearly 7,200 licensed pubs are operating in the country.
The Irish licenced trade is a “crucial component of Ireland’s important hospitality sector”, employing 230,000 and spending over €2.9bn annually in wages, states the report.
Having a drink and some food in the local pub delivered €6.5bn in tourism revenues in 2017, says the report.
Hard cash is no longer the only way to pay for a pint, with a 6% increase in turnover in card sales for the sector for 2017.
Pubs changing hands have returned to pre-recession levels.
Tony Morrissey, managing director of pub specialist auctioneering firm Morrissey’s, said: “Over the last five years, as much as 60% of all transactions in the Dublin market, for example, were insolvency-related and while there are still a few cases in the pipeline, the market is now approaching a pre-recession level of normality with around 4%-5% of stock changing hands every year.
“That’s around 35 pubs a year, which is what it used to be before the downturn.”