A fifth of pubs in Ireland have permanently shut in the past 16 years, new research shows.

But showing  a degree of fortitude loyalty to Arthur Guinness and every other brewer  out there Meath people are clearly still socialising superbly as we are bottom of the table with only 1.4% of the Royal County boozers bolting their doors for the final time

Traditionally a focal point for communities across the country, pubs in rural regions, in particular, have long been under economic pressure.

A report released yesterday by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (Digi) shows that 1,829 pubs closed between 2005 and 2021. That period covers the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger era and the subsequent financial crash, as well as the Covid crisis.

Indeed, almost one in five of those closures, 349, occurred during the pandemic.

Co Laois experienced the most closures, with almost 31pc of its bars shutting in the 16-year period. County Meath was the least affected, with just a 1.4pc decline.

But in 15 counties the number of pubs declined by between 20pc and 30pc. They include Roscommon with a 28pc fall, Offaly at 30pc, Tipperary at 26pc and Co Clare with a near 25pc drop-off. Twenty-six per cent of pubs in Co Longford shut in that period, while Kerry suffered a decline of just over 15pc and it was 25pc in Mayo.

In Dublin, just over 4pc of pubs shut in those 16 years.

So Meath leads the way and we can all drink to that!