VFI survey reveals 88% of people say pub heritage worth preserving

New research reveals over 50% of the population visit the pub at least once a week, while as a nation we retain a deep affinity for the Irish pub as a social hub at the heart of local communities.

The findings are revealed as 400 publicans from all corners of Ireland will gather at the 44th annual conference of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) in Athlone, Co. Westmeath from Monday 8th to Wednesday 10th May where the importance of the pub in Irish society and culture will be discussed.

This discussion co-insides with research conducted by the VFI amongst some 1,500 Irish people and tourists gauging attitudes to the pub. The results demonstrate a clear affinity between the people of Ireland and the pub with 88% of people stating they want to see pub culture and heritage preserved, while 62% of people believe that the pub plays a pivotal role in local communities across Ireland.

The survey found that 52% of Irish people visit the pub at least once a week, with 80% stating that the main reason is to meet friends and family. A further 47% frequent the pub to enjoy a meal demonstrating the high-quality food offering and value for money available in pubs. When asked about the most important factors when visiting a pub, staff friendliness ranked highest, closely followed by quality of service, cleanliness and availability of food.

Pat Crotty, President of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland commented; “As we gather for our 44th AGM, the results of this consumer research is very uplifting for the trade as it is abundantly clear that the passion for the pub amongst the Irish people is as strong as ever. We, like everyone else, want to see the Irish pub culture preserved but it’s important that we build on our existing culture and heritage. We need to ensure we continue to move with the times, adapt to ever changing consumer demand and ensure we are giving people a reason to visit the pub.”

The research conducted by the VFI also explored the views of visitors to Ireland. 88% of previous visitors to Ireland outlined they had spent time in the pub, underlining the importance of pubs to our tourism infrastructure and cementing the pub’s position as the number one tourist attraction. In addition, a staggering 97% of tourists coming to Ireland soon, intend on visiting a pub.

For those tourists who had visited, music and entertainment (31%), experiencing ‘the craic’, 30% and meeting local Irish people (28%) ranked as the most enjoyable aspects of the Irish pub.

 Despite an overall air of positivity surrounding this year’s AGM, VFI President Pat Crotty was also keen to point out challenges the trade is facing;

“Overall the trade is in a much better place and we are looking forward to the future with great optimism but we are still facing some significant challenges. Brexit is already having an effect as the numbers visiting Ireland from the UK have fallen this year. The value of Sterling is a key issue for us as a tourist destination and with the negotiations around the UK’s departure from the EU only starting we can be sure of more uncertainty in the coming years.”

“Meanwhile, excise duty on wine, beer, spirits and cider continues to undermine any recovery in the sector while the cost of public liability insurance is causing havoc for publicans across the country. Add to this commercial and water rates, as well as other regulatory impositions.”

The VFI AGM is taking place at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Northgate Street, Athlone, Co. Westmeath from Monday 8th to Wednesday 10th May. Members will reflect on a positive year for the trade and assess the challenges they face going forward.

*Research was conducted by the VFI in March 2017 amongst 1,577 Irish people.

The research results also offered some other interesting insights on the role of the pub in Irish society and people’s views towards it.

  • Over half (53%) of respondents have enjoyed a first date in the pub.
  • As a nation we continue to celebrate births and deaths in the pub, as proved by the extremely high numbers for christenings (82%) and funerals (89%).
  • The big Saturday night (31%) tops the poll as the favourite time people like to be in the pub closely followed by a sunny afternoon in the beer garden (26%).
  • Friday evening drinks after work are still a staple for the Irish with almost 20% claiming this is their favourite time to be in the pub, though when it comes to the gender breakdown men (29%) are far more likely than women (16%) to head out after work.
  • 52% of Irish people visit the pub at least once a week
  • 80% visit the pub to meet to meet friends and family
  • 47% visit the pub to enjoy a meal
  • 88% of visitors to Ireland spent time in a pub
  • 62% of people believe that the pub plays a pivotal role in local communities across Ireland.


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Brian Foley
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