A Limerick publican has said he had to shut the doors of his 111-year-old pub after the price of overheads was no longer sustainable.
The largest number of closures were seen in Limerick, with 32% fewer pubs in the county since 2005.
In May of this year, Anthony O'Dwyer shut the doors of O'Dwyers Pub on Wolfe Tone Street, Limerick, for the final time.
Despite opening in 1912, the pub could no longer continue in business after a difficult period during COVID, followed by an increase in the price of overheads.
Speaking to Lunchtime Live, Mr O'Dwyer said he had run the pub for 17 years prior to the pandemic.
"Times have changed and cultures have changed," he said.
"Overheads have gone up, and COVID kicked in and we made a very tough decision.
"I was very sad to close, but it was just reality."
Since the closure, Mr O'Dwyer said he has moved to The Hurlers pub in Castletroy, which has a larger "catchment area" than Wolfe Tone Street.
"With the pressures of insurance, electricity costs going through the roof, inflation has kicked in – it's tough trading times for small businesses," he said.
Mr O'Dwyer said he had built strong relationships with the punters in O'Dwyers.
"There are friends of mine that are there for life ... there's a lot of great customers there, regular customers, worktime drinkers and daytime drinkers," he said.
"A lot of those lads passed away, and that's what's happening with a lot of rural pubs."
Mr O'Dwyer said changes in the "style of drinking" means people are drinking less.
"Through inflation and through overheads, it's less of a visit," he said. "People are looking for more value."
Gerald Hough, owner of J.J. Houghs in Offaly said the "national obsession" with the price of a pint is impacting publicans.
"The price of losing these places forever will be a lot greater than the price of a few pints," he said.
"'We're on the river Shannon but it's a small, small town ... we used to have like 11 bars, and now we have four the moment.
"Pubs are part of what's referred to as 'third places' – it's not work, [it's] the places where people meet, pubs in Ireland, cafes in France, churches and barbers... are the anchors of our communities.
"Social participation in society, in general, is in decline.
"We've live music here seven nights a week to try and drum up business."
Michael Coyne, owner of Coyne's Gastropub in Connemara, said for rural communities, the public is still the foundation of socialisation.
"I was at a funeral ... people came together and had jokes and cried and it was all done in the pub," he said. "It's a psychological thing."
"At the end of the night, people wanted to get away home, they didn't want to drink and drive, but there were no taxis.
"So, you have this in cities in towns, but when it comes to rural areas you don't have those services, so pubs are up against that."
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