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'Branching out into food helped our pub ride out the bad times'

A PUBLICAN in Connemara was dealt a heavy blow when he purchased his pub at the brink of the economic downturn in 2007.

Owner of The Bard's Den, Vincent Flannery, said fears for his business grew as he watched a number of pubs in the area shut down in the years after the recession hit.

Mr Flannery diversified the business in an attempt to survive, and seven years later he is finally beginning to see some growth.

"Business was exceptionally difficult for a number of years. We diversified, we went heavily into food. We invested into opening a hostel. Now we've opened an arts and crafts shop. That gave us several revenue streams which meant we were able to ride out the bad times.

"But this doesn't mean it has become easier. It is still exceptionally tough. The overheads are very high, as are excise duty and taxes," he said.

While the pub is situated in an area popular with tourists during the summer months, Mr Flannery said it benefits hugely from the local community, which he described as very loyal.

He has been sure to give back to the community. He now employs eight full-time and 15 part-time staff at the pub.

"We continue to support and be supported by our local community," he said.

Mr Flannery described the 'Support Your Local' campaign as "crucial" for local pubs and hotels still weathering the storm.

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