The Irish Pub: past, present – whither the future?
The purpose of this research is to examine the main economic, legislative, and socio- cultural factors that are currently influencing the pub trade in Ireland and their specific impact on a sample of publicans in both Galway city and county. In approaching this task the author engaged in a comprehensive literature review on the origin, history and evolution of the Irish pub; examined the socio-cultural and economic role of the public house in Ireland and developed a profile of the Irish pub by undertaking a number of semi-structured interviews with pub owners from the area. In doing so, the author obtained the views and opinions of the publicans on the current state of their businesses, the extent to which patterns of trade have changed over recent years, the challenges and factors currently influencing their trade, the actions they believed to be necessary to promote the trade and address perceived difficulties and how they viewed the future of the pub business within the framework of the current regulatory regime. In light of this research, the author identified a number of key findings and put forward a series of recommendations designed to promote the future success and development of the pub trade in Ireland. The research established that public houses are currently operating under a very unfavourable regulatory framework that has resulted in the serious decline of the trade over the last decade. This decline appears to have coincided initially with the introduction of the ban on smoking in the workplace and was exacerbated further by the advent of more severe drink-driving laws, especially mandatory breath testing. Other unfavourable conditions include the high levels of excise duty, value added tax and local authority commercial rates. In addition to these regulatory factors, the research established that a major impediment to the pub trade is the unfair competition from supermarkets and other off-licence retail outlets and especially to the phenomenon of the below-cost selling of alcohol. The recession has also been a major contributory factor to the decline in the trade as also has been the trend towards lifestyle changes and home drinking mirroring the practice in some continental European countries.
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