Tuesday 19 November 2019

'Recession isn't over in rural Ireland' - says owner of Ireland's most westerly pub

  • 'Living in Rural Ireland' series
  • No recovery in the west of Ireland - says owner of Ireland's most westerly pub
  • Pub owners 'constantly thinking outside the box' to get business
  • Calls for incentives for pub owners to provide transport to patrons
Pic: Owner Alan Gielty with President Micheal D Higgins
Pic: Owner Alan Gielty with President Micheal D Higgins
Pic: Gielty's pub, Achill
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

The recession isn't over in rural Ireland, according to the owner of Ireland's most westerly pub.

Alan Gielty owns Gielty's Bar and Restaurant in the village of Dooagh, Achill Island, Co. Mayo. He told Independent.ie that the island has yet to feel the full effects of the financial recovery.

"The recession might be over on the mainland but it hasn't filtered down here yet. If there's recovery on the mainland it can take a while to come the islands," he said.

Alan explained that in the last two years he has seen an improvement with families having more disposable income, but winter nights in his establishment are still quiet.

He said: "We have the tourism aspect here so it has picked up and there is a bit of a recovery. Last year there was a big improvement and this year has been on par with it which is great.

"The recession was totally different and much quieter. People had less disposable income. You wouldn't get families coming in and buying soft drinks, they'd be buying cordial instead."

Pic: Gielty's pub, Achill
Pic: Gielty's pub, Achill

Transport Minister Shane Ross' proposed new drink driving Bill aims to ban those who are over the limit on the spot for three months. While Alan said he had "zero tolerance for drink driving", he said that it isn't easy for people to get taxis in rural areas.

"Shane Ross must think it's easy to get a taxi in rural Ireland but it isn't easy.

"You can have three or four people in a car and they're all going different directions. The pub is the community centre of rural areas and if you're at home all day on your own farming, it can be very isolating if you can't get out," he added.

Seven years ago, Alan bought a jeep but found it too expensive to run. He swapped it for a shuttle bus and started his own "You drink, we drive" campaign to transport customers to and from the pub. Alan thinks that the government should offer incentives for pubs to offer transport to customers.

"We go within a five-mile radius. We have our regulars but we get tourists too. There should be an incentive given to pubs for transport. It would make operating shuttle buses more attractive to pub owners and make the pub more attractive to people as they wouldn't have to worry about getting home."

Alan renovated the family pub in 2005. It comprises of a coffee shop and restaurant as well as the bar. Alan said that as a pub owner "you constantly need to think outside the box" in order to make ends meet.

"Older pubs back in the day were like older petrol stations. They just filled petrol or pumped your wheel but today when you walk into a petrol station they have everything. You constantly have to think of a new angle and think outside the box and bring your initiative."

See more in Independent.ie's 'Reality of Living Rural' series:

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