Over the past two decades, North and South Main Streets have witnessed a marked decline; the footpaths are quiet, several buildings are not being maintained and many remaining traders are struggling.

Despite their names, North and South Main Streets are no longer the primary streets of Cork city. Engineering developments in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries meant that new streets (such as St. Patrick’s Street) could be built over some channels of the River Lee. This created newer, wider streets that form the commercial centre of Cork today.

Until relatively recently North and South Main Streets were still bustling and busy, full of small businesses and local shoppers. Since the bustling commercial life of the streets is still well within living memory, Cork Folklore Project set out to create an audio testament to life in these streets in the recent past. The Project now holds a small archive of interviews about North and South Main Streets. The aim was to gather memories of what the streets were like in the past, but also to record how things are changing today, and how residents and traders perceive these changes.

Clive Davis, who used to work at The Other Place on South Main Street, is surprised at how much the street has changed in recent years (source CFP_SR00532).

Image of the Other Place building in October 2015

The building where the Other Place once was (25 October 2015).


Liam Ó hUigín also reflects on the decline (source CFP_SR00539).


Tom Spalding takes a historical look at the decline, weighing the advantages and disadvantages (source CFP_SR00538).

Image of the Roman House building

The Roman House in October 2015

You can watch our short video, made using excerpts from the Cork Folklore Project’s oral history collection, which touches on some of the history of the streets, and highlights some of the issues for residents and traders today.