Do Pub Closures Kill Community?

The front page of today’s Washington Post contains a somber story about mass closings of rural pubs in Ireland. What could be causing the closure of these venerable community institutions in Ireland of all places, the emerald of world pub culture?

Prosperity, so they say.

Click for video
(Click image for Washington Post video)

Ireland’s booming economy is providing younger folks with higher paying jobs far away from their rural homes. At the end of the day, after a long commute, more of these folks are opting for drinks at home in front of the television or weekend vacations to the continent rather than popping down to the pub for a slow round with the neighbors.

The article goes on to describe how this is leaving many of the older rural inhabitants stuck lonely and at home when they would rather be celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, funerals and other special occasions with the community at the pub.

What’s at stake when pubs close down? The art of conversation, says one pubgoer. Live, participatory music as well. Another community member (in the video above) says when the village pub closed it was like “a sudden death in the family.” And when it reopened, “everything back to life again.”

I wrote a chapter in Fermenting Revolution about how so-called “third-places” like brewpubs can help rebuild community bonds in the U.S. Click here to read my Spring 2008 column in American Brewer magazine on the same topic.

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