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patronage of the city’s shops. Certainly by the early 20th century there were a significant number of department and other large shops catering for the wealthier consumers. These included Dowden’s drapery establishment and department stores such as the Munster Arcade, Grant’s, Cash’s, Roche’s Stores and the Queen’s Old Castle. During the War of Independence, on 11 December 1920, retail trade in the city centre suffered a setback when large tracts of the city were destroyed by fire, apparently through the actions of Crown Forces, and many businesses were looted. In the late 20th century many of the traditional shops came under pressure due to economic recession from the 1970s and changing international retail trends. Many of the major local shops closed down or passed into new ownership, while the smaller retail units were under equal pressure. National and international retailers increasingly moved into the city, one of which, Dunnes Stores, actually began in St. Patrick’s Street in 1944. By the early 21st century the retail focus in Cork was shared between the traditional city centre and many suburban shopping centres.

Blairs Chemist Prescription Register, 1890s.

Cornmarket Street/Coal Quay late 1800s

Grand Parade, 1902-1903.

For further information including online trade directories and a list of street traders from 1928, see the Sources page.

Munster Arcade Department store c 1900

Aftermath of Burning of Cork, December 1920

Queens Old Castle

John W. Dowden letterhead, 1942. text for retail heritage

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