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HomeFarming News‘Stark’ decline in number of pubs doing business
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘Stark’ decline in number of pubs doing business

There are 1,829 fewer pubs in Ireland over the last 16-year period (21% decline), while 349 premises have closed their doors during the Covid period.

They are among the findings in the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland’s latest analysis, which shows a “stark” decline in the number of pubs doing business throughout the country since 2005.

According to the report, Laois is most impacted, reporting a 30.6% decline, while Meath suffered the least with a 1.4% drop.

The report shows a decrease in pubs in every county in Ireland, and 23 counties had decreases in the number of pubs of greater than 10%.

The Irish Pub: Stopping the Decline report is based on the group’s analysis of Revenue license data and includes an economic and social analysis by Dublin City University (DCU) Associate Professor Emeritus and economist Anthony Foley.


All 26 counties experienced declines in pub numbers through the 16-year period, as the data outlines below:

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  • Carlow: 10.4%;
  • Kildare: 13.6%;
  • Wicklow: 10.1%;
  • Cavan: 17.2%;
  • Kerry: 15.3%;
  • Kilkenny: 18.1%;
  • Monaghan: 19.8%;
  • Wexford: 17.2%;
  • Clare: 24.7%;
  • Galway: 20.6%;
  • Louth: 20.3%;
  • Sligo: 24%;
  • Waterford: 23.5%;
  • Westmeath: 24.4%;
  • Cork: 28.5%;
  • Donegal: 26.3%;
  • Leitrim: 26.4%;
  • Limerick: 29.1%;
  • Longford: 25.7%;
  • Mayo: 25.1%;
  • Offaly: 29.9%;
  • Roscommon: 28.3%;
  • Tipperary: 26.3%.
Economic and social analysis

According to an economic and social analysis of the numbers, economist Anthony Foley notes that public houses contribute to the culture and “vibrancy” of villages, small towns, and rural areas in many ways.

He says they contribute to tourism and provide an “extensive” network of physical facilities and services that tourists and locals require.

Foley pointed to concerns for the impact of the decline on rural Ireland when taken in the context of wider challenges facing areas outside Dublin.

Foley suggests there is likely to be a negative social impact arising from the trend and extent of closures, especially in rural and remote areas in Ireland.

He cites several reasons for the decline, including:

  • Non-replacement of pub operators on retirement or death;
  • Low levels of business volume and economic sustainability;
  • Regulatory changes such as tighter drink driving laws and enforcement;
  • Weak or non-existent public transport;
  • Population change;
  • Distribution.
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