Shock as 113 pubs closed in Donegal

MORE than a quarter of Donegal’s public houses have closed since 2005 with the number in the county now reduced from 453 in 2005 to 334 in 2021.

The percentage of bars which have closed in the county is way above the national average according to Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (Digi) who published the research earlier this month.

It shows that one fifth of pubs in Ireland have permanently shut in the past 16 years. Donegal’s reduction at 26.3 per cent leaves it among the counties with the highest closure rate.


County Laois experienced the most closures, with almost 31 per cent of its bars shutting in the 16-year period while County Meath was the least affected, with just a 1.4 per cent decline.

Vintners Federation spokesperson Cllr Martin Harley told the Donegal News this week that pubs today are having to diversify by offering food and /or AirB&B type accommodation to ensure they remain profitable.

“I have seen three pubs in the Twin Towns which closed during the pandemic lockdown not reopen, although I think a lot of the 113 pubs which closed in the county in those past 16 years are more rural.

“This means a big loss to local sports teams which would have hosted after match meets and quizzes and social events in their locals. Going to a pub in a town is not the same for them.

“The bottom line is that the younger generation are not prepared to do the sort of unsociable hours and the profit is not there any longer to pay the mortgages and keep a family. Their loss is damaging the social fabric of the smaller villages and rural areas. Also during lockdown people were drinking at home and that trend has continued. The supermarkets and off licences now sell far more alcohol than pubs,” he concluded.

The report by Digi shows that 1,829 pubs closed between 2005 and 2021. That period covers the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger era and the subsequent financial crash, as well as the Covid crisis. Almost one in five of those closures, 349, occurred during the pandemic.

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