The findings of an academic study conducted by the University of York and Newcastle Business School have revealed the central role that pubs play in creating economic development and social wellbeing in rural Ireland.
The research was prepared on behalf of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland and shows that rural Irish pubs make a significant contribution to the economy with 50,000 people employed directly, generating €60.7m in wages.
For the survey, 1,744 pubs were contacted over the course of 12 months on the basis that they were in parishes with a resident population of less than 3,000, located at least five miles or ten minutes’ drive from parishes with a population of 5,000 and above.
Pubs surveyed used local suppliers regularly; calculations made on responses indicate a total of €2.1m injected by pubs within their local supply chains, with each pub spending approximately €600 a month in local businesses.
The social and economic role played by pubs in rural Ireland is evident from the qualitative findings undertaken by researchers showing that local residents significantly value the pub. The closure of rural pubs is strongly associated with the decline of social drinking and increasing levels of alcohol consumption in private premises, fuelled by cheap prices available in the off licence sector.
Dr Ignazio Cabras, principal investigator in this study, said: “Aside 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. For instance, the majority of communal activities occurring in villages and rural parishes are likely to originate within pubs or to be supported by publicans with financial and logistic resources.”
The majority of pub owner respondents indicated that much of their revenue was put into managing costs associated with employment, service rates, suppliers and taxation. Interviews conducted on behalf of the researchers also identified costs associated with licensing, regulations and rates as significant burdens for their overheads.