The Awards were presented at a Gala Dinner by Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffen TD who told those attending that the winner and finalists “have set the benchmarks for everyone else to follow”.
Based in Castlebridge, County Wexford, The Porterhouse took the national champion title after winning the Best Local Pub award, one of eight national categories from which the Overall Winner was announced.
The Regional Finalists were selected from over 500 applications in this joint national awards programme presented by the Vintners Federation of Ireland and Dublin’s Licensed Vintners Association.
Castlebridge native Myles Doyle and his wife Sharon own The Porter House which completed a major redevelopment in 2015 and they employ 10 staff.
Although the Porter House is a traditional old-style pub with deep roots in the local community through local sponsorships and the work it does in fund-raising for charities, it’s also constantly innovating and is focused on its customer’s changing needs.
The pub recently introduced a specialised gin menu, local craft beers and a new premium whiskey offering.
The Irish Pub Awards eight category winners are:
Innovative Pub of the Year The Roadside Tavern, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare
Best Music Pub Matt The Millers, Kilkenny City
Best Outdoor Space The Terrace at Dinn Rí, Co Carlow
Outstanding Customer Service The Bog Road, Portlaoise, Co Laois
Best Tourist Pub The Stag’s Head, Dublin
Pub Personality of the Year Johnny Quilty – Goat Bar & Grill, Dublin
Best Local Pub The Porter House, Castlebridge, Co Wexford
Best Food Pub Mickey Finn’s, Redcross, Co Wicklow
“The Porter House is a great representation of what the Irish pub is all about” said VFI President Pat Crotty at the inaugural Awards, “a place to meet family and friends, enjoy great food, listen to music and be entertained or just spend quality time away from the stresses and strains of everyday life.
“We’re delighted that tonight, as an industry we’ve been able to showcase the best that our Irish pubs have to offer in terms of creativity, innovation and excellence. The pub offering has changed dramatically in the past decade. Publicans have responded to changing consumer demands and we’ve seen this tonight in what our pubs are now offering in terms of excellent casual dining, contemporary beers and spirits, tourist attractions and overall entertainment to suit all types of customer”.
However he also highlighted the lack of engagement with the Irish pub, one of the foremost tourist attractions in the country, by Government and semi-state bodies.
“We don’t exist in national tourism structures” he stated, “yet we feed more than hotels and restaurants combined but we’re not invited to attend tourism strategy meetings. Tonight we request the Minister to change this – we should have a place at the table.”
LVA Chairman John Gleeson, who also presented the awards last night, added, “We’re very pleased with the success of our first awards programme. These awards will now be recognised as the definitive awards programme within the industry as it is set up to reward all pub sectors right throughout the country. There is great value for pubs entering the awards in terms of excellent national and local media coverage along with the in-depth management training our 56 regional winners receive. We’re delighted to have come together with the VFI on this great initiative”.
The award categories are sponsored by Bank of Ireland Payment Acceptance, Bulmers, Diageo, Heineken, IMRO. Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard, Molson Coors and Musgrave Marketplace.
The Irish Independent is the media partner and Drinks Industry Ireland is the trade media partner, while Skillnets is the management development partner.