The Viper Room, popular Dublin club now closed

One pub is closing its doors each month in Dublin as the recession hits the capital's nightlife.

The Sunday Tribune has learned that several high-profile bars and clubs have either shut down, are on the verge of shutting, are privately up for sale, or are being rebranded to save them from going under.

Even some of the city's best-known spots are struggling in an industry which has shifted from being extremely profitable to extremely punishing.

"The trade is always in a state of flux but undoubtedly there is pressure on publicans and we are seeing a far higher rate of closures at the moment," according to Donall O'Keeffe of the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA).

The bars struggling the most are those which previously operated with theatre licences, allowing them to open late.

These licences were revoked under the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008, and overnight venues lost licences, meaning they had to apply for exemptions to stay open later and faced a massive 100% hike in the fees for the exemption.

This had led to a virtual halt in late-night drinking, and venues which specialised in it are closing rapidly. Popular late-night venues such as the Viper Room and Voodoo have permanently closed their doors.

One city-centre bar owner told the Sunday Tribune that virtually all drinking venues are privately for sale. "A lot of places would carry you to the bank if you asked to buy them," he said.

Along with this factor and rising overheads, Dublin pub-goers are now looking for value for money. Because of this, bar owners say that alcohol is now their "secondary product" and an emphasis on entertainment and food is pushing out owners who are inexperienced in those areas.

And both promoters and bar owners believe the real crunch is yet to come. Next summer will see the end of several more high-profile venues, according to popular inside opinion.

"There is no single factor at play; there are a lot of different reasons (for closures)," said O'Keeffe, citing in particular the smoking ban.

"There are also lifestyle factors. People are getting up early and commuting and they have less social time. The pubs are always extremely popular at the weekends but extremely quiet on weekdays. [But] in Dublin we have a reasonably high level of stability."

Last Orders

Dublin city centre pubs recently shut down:


Ba Mizu


The Headline Bar


The Viper Room

High-profile pubs for sale:

Scott's, Dun Laoghaire, €1.7m

The Inn, Raheny, €3.6m

Ruaille Buaille, South King Street, €2m

The Windjammer, Townsend Street, €1.65m

The Horse and Hound, Artane, €3.35m

McCormack's, Balbriggan

Rebranded bars:

Renards, from VIP club to 'sports and karaoke bar';

The Hub in Temple Bar changed to 'Think Tank';

Spirit from nightclub to rock venue The Academy