Ireland launches pub diversification scheme

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Ireland has launched a scheme to help to support rural pubs to diversify their facilities following the model of UK-based Pub is The Hub.

Its ‘Pubs as Community Hubs’ pilot programme is to be rolled out in five rural locations in Cavan, Kerry, Donegal, Clare and Cork following €50,000 in funding which has been provided to the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) by The Department of Rural and Community Development.

The initiative is set to be expanded to other parts of Ireland if the pilot is a success. Diversification services will include community cinemas, digital hubs, book clubs, arts and crafts workshops and community meeting spaces.

The scheme has been modelled on the Pub is The Hub scheme in the UK, following lengthy support and discussions between VFI and Pub is The Hub.

The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, said:“Often people in rural areas might have to travel many miles to access certain services. In other instances, there may not be a suitable meeting place for local groups to come together for activities.

“Through the ‘Pubs as Community Hubs’ initiative, we want to see how rural pubs can diversify during quiet trading times by acting as community cinemas, book clubs and meeting spaces for local community groups.”

Ceo of VFI Padraig Cribben welcomed the initiative: “Pubs are a vital part of Irish life but as local communities evolve it’s more important than ever to understand how our pubs can continue to enhance their offering to the villages and towns they serve.”

Pub is The Hub in the UK has been running for 20 years and has helped over 600 pubs to diversify their services to help local communities.

Pub is The Hub, chief executive, John Longden added: “It is great to see Ireland supporting rural diversification in its pubs.

“Pubs with great publicans at the helm can be the heart of many local areas helping to offer vital services and combat social isolation and loneliness.”

Pictured: The launch of ‘Pubs as Community Hubs’  at The Keepers Arms in Bawnboy which is planning to open a community cinema.  (Images: Lorraine Teevan)