There has been a continued decline in the number of pubs in Donegal in recent years with the pub population down 20% which amounts to 91 pubs less in the county than there were 14 years ago.
A new survey published by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland reveals the exodus from the industry in the county since 2005. In the past two years alone six pubs have closed in the county.
This decline, apart from the social void that it has created, has had serious implications on employment in a county where the drinks and hospitality sectors provide 7,443 jobs and €168 million in tourism spend in the county
The figure is in line with the rest of the country with the exception of Dublin which shows a decline of only 1%.
Rosemary Garth of DIGI commented: “With the now very real prospect of a no-deal Brexit, Government action and support have never been more important.”
The high cost of alcohol excise tax remains a source of significant concern for rural publicans and, indeed, hoteliers, restaurateurs, off-licence owners, and other drinks and hospitality business proprietors.
Ireland has the second-highest overall alcohol excise tax in the EU, the highest excise tax on wine, the second highest on beer, and the third highest on spirits.
Stephen McCahill the well known publican in the Corner House commented: “ I would agree with the findings but feel there a lot of other contributory factors. Our whole culture has changed - people have adapted a much healthier lifestyle and have simply cut down on their consumption.”More importantly there is the fear factor - people who may have enjoyed a pint or two during the day are simply afraid as they may be over the limit. The result is that many are resorting to the off licences which I feel is a very dangerous development.
“In a pub measures are controlled and the publican ensures that if someone has consumed too many, they will ensure that they get home safely. That does not exist at the many house parties at weekends.
McCahill said: “Personally I enjoy a good trade but I have to put a lot into it with music seven nights a week but the stark reality is that we are the only pub in Ardara that opens every morning. Most open in the evenings only with another just opening at lunchtime.
“This is reflective of other rural towns in the county - without a doubt jobs have been lost and will continue to go if the present trend is to continue.”