Rural pubs need ‘urgent’ action to stop their decline

Researchers who have spent the last year examining the importance of the rural Irish pub to its local community have concluded that, given their economic importance, it is "urgent" that steps be taken to address the decline of the venues.

The academic study by the University of York and Newcastle Business School found that the rural pub generates €60.7m in wages, injects €2.1m into the local supply chains and spends approximately €600 a month in local businesses.

The survey, which was prepared for the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), selected 1,744 pubs for survey on the basis that they were in parishes with a resident population of less than 3,000 and were located at least five miles or ten minutes’ drive from parishes with a population of 5,000 and above.

Dr Ignazio Cabras, the principal investigator in the study, said: “Aside from the importance of pubs in relation to economies and supply chains in rural Ireland, this study has examined the significant role pubs play within local communities. Our findings clearly identify pubs as main centres for social activities and engagement, in a context frequently characterised by reduced facilities and opportunities. For instance, the majority of communal activities occurring in villages and rural parishes such as those related to clubs or sport teams are likely to originate within pubs or to be supported by publicans with financial and logistic resources.”

Dr Cabras also pointed out that publicans also support almost all volunteering initiatives and charity events.

“Local residents approached for this study frequently described publicans as ‘pillars’ and ‘sentinels’ of their communities, with pubs functioning as information centres as well as informal job-centres” he said. “In the light of these considerations, halting the decline of pubs in rural Ireland becomes even more relevant and urgent.”

Padraig Cribben, VFI chief executive, said “The Irish pub already accounts for 50,000 jobs and this report by the University of York: highlights the massive role the pub plays in rural areas with an estimated €2.1 million injected by pubs in their local supply chains.

“As well as that, the Irish pub has played and continues to play a pivotal role in Irish tourism.

“Recent research shows that over 80% of tourists use the pub for food and/or entertainment and it is the number one tourist attraction.”


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