‘THE pub is not just a pub’, they say. It’s a place of community and conversation, and a source of comfort, camaraderie and craic.
Publicans across Limerick – and nationally – are trying to combat negative perceptions of the industry, and are pointing out what they believe are the often forgotten economic and social benefits of the trade to the wider community.
A recent report commissioned by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland and undertaken by Dublin City University provides a county-by-county breakdown of the contribution of the industry to local economies.
At the Limerick launch of the campaign, entitled Support Your Local, in Jerry O’Dea’s bar on Mulgrave Street – established in 1836 – it was highlighted that in total 3,558 jobs are associated with the drinks industry in Limerick, across 408 pubs and hotels.
Election candidate in Limerick city east and publican Jerry O’Dea said in recent years “it has almost become a shameful thing to say you’re a publican”, but the third-generation publican said he “feels very strongly that this is not the case.”
“The pub is very much a part of our community, from proving the first jobs for young lads aged 18 to supporting sporting clubs. The more we involve ourselves with the community, the more it comes back. A pub is not just a pub anymore - it’s an entertainment venue,” he said.
The campaign is designed to highlight the significant financial and social contribution made by the Irish drinks industry all around the country, including buying €8.1m worth of agricultural inputs from Limerick, and accounting for wages of €83m in Limerick.
Limerick city has 234 pubs and other bars, which pay €21m in employee wages, with the total wage bill in drinks related employment in the city being €49m.
Limerick county has 174 pubs and other bars, which pay €16m in employee wages, and the total bill is €34m.
The drinks industry uses almost 50,000 tonnes of apples in production, over 200,000 tonnes of barley and malted barley, and over 300 million litres of milk, providing support to thousands of Irish farmers. Purchases of milk by the drinks industry in county Limerick amount to approximately €8.1m - only surpassed by counties Kerry and Tipperary with purchases of €8.6m apiece. Barley purchases in Tipperary also amounted to €3m, and €6m in Wexford.
Mike McDonnell, of the Wine Buff on Mallow Street in the city, said “it’s vital that we promote a sustainable future for everyone who works in the importation, distribution, sale or serving of wine.”
Ger Callanan, of the Glen Tavern on Glentworth Street, the pub trade has moved on dramatically in recent years. “It’s all about craft beers, good quality food, the choice of wine, whiskeys, entertainment. We can’t all do the same thing and we shouldn’t.”
Darragh Moore, of the Wine Buff, explained that when he set up the business aged 24 in 2000, people expressed surprise that such a palate for fine wine existed in Limerick.
“Now we have 11 shops throughout Ireland, including seven franchises,” he said.
Their premises on Catherine Street in the city is supportive of other local sellers, selling art and locally made chocolate, he pointed out.
Nationally, there are 8,298 public houses and other bars and almost 1,700 full off-licences.