Ronnie Curley owner of Curley’s Pub in Portumna, Co. Galway.
(The phone call took place over a cell phone connection to Ireland and the audio is difficult to hear. )
I mentioned that there has been a 25% decline since 2007 in drinking in pubs.
Ronnie Curley has been in business as the proprietor of Curley’s Pub for more than thirty years.
Well sure 2007, Since 2010 and 2011 there’s been a “big decline.”
No particular age group affected- ‘across the board’ impact.
The pubs are “closing left right and center,” in the town of Portumna.
“We had in excess of 20 pubs in town years ago, …….now we have 9.”
¾ of a pint of Guinness would be all you could drink in order to remain within the limit.
With the new strict drinking and driving laws- “people are taking it that you can’t drink and drive now.”
“You may see people chancing an odd one, the locals might chance two or three.”
The off-licenses have to be doing a “big bit better,” according to Curley. Even his own children when they go out with their friends will have a couple of drinks in the house before they go anywhere. “They’ll have a few drinks before they go to the pub.”
You wouldn’t see the older people out for a drink at night during the week.
There is a decline in the numbers of people coming into the bars and Curley agrees that the supermarkets are selling below costs and also that the off-licenses are selling merchandise from parts of Europe and the North of Ireland. Curley also concurs with Kinsale off license owner Ken Murphy on the legal loophole which allows the larger super markets to sell certain alcohol items below cost. Reclaiming the VAT is mentioned. There is no lowest price allowed by law to sell liquor and alcohol in Ireland. But there are groups who are pressuring the government to get that changed.
What does he see for the future of pubs in Ireland? Is there a future?
“I don’t know. Things seem to be changing a lot. Now there’s other factors after affecting Portumna…”
He mentions the burning down of the Shannon Oaks Hotel in 2011. That has affected the business trade of pubs in the town.
“The pub trade has changed every year since I’ve started.” He mentions that his busiest days during the week were Tuesdays and Thursdays, the mart days. The older farmers would come in after selling some livestock, “have a few drinks and drive home.” He adds that, “All that has changed now.”
The pubs that once stayed open all day, now open their doors at four or later. What’s keeping pubs going now he says are 21st, or Hen Nights and Bachelor Parties.