Lots of contributors to the Cork’s Main Streets’ oral history collection talked about the shops of the past, and the ones that are still there today.

Multi-generational businesses

There are several multi-generational businesses on North Main Street. Bradley’s supermarket is one of these. It was first established in the mid 1800s. Here, Michael Creedon talks about Bradley’s in the days before supermarkets were common (source CFP_SR00546).


Image of Bradley's hop front on North Main Street in October 2016

Bradley’s shop on North Main Street in May 2015


The North Gate Pharmacy is another business that has been passed from one generation to the next. Rosarii Comber discusses the early days of the shop (source CFP_SR00544).

Image of North Gate Pharmacy in October 2016

North Gate Pharmacy in October 2015


Main Street in the 40s and 50s

While there is only a small handful of businesses on South Main Street today, both Noreen Hanover and Liam Ó hUigín (who grew up in the areas around North and South Main Streets) remember a place that was once full of shops.

Here, Noreen remembers the shops of South Main Street in her childhood (source CFP_SR00537).

Noreen recalls buying food items “loose.” This was important because many of the people who lived in the centre of Cork city did not have a fridge, or any space to store food. Buying in bulk was not an option because it would go off too quickly. People bought food as and when it was needed. Because of this, people brought their own containers to the shop to be filled up with milk.


Here, Liam Ó hUigín remembers getting a “tilly” of milk for the cat (source CFP_SR00539).


Liam also remembers the old bakeries on South Main Street (source CFP_SR00539).


Image of South Main Street in October 2016

South Main Street has very few shops today (this image is from April 2015)


North Main Street was once the epicentre of Cork city. Here Liam Ó hUigín remembers the Roman House in the 50s (source CFP_SR00539).

Image of the Roman House building

The building where the Roman House was in October 2015

Farther back in time…

The deeds from Rosarii Comber’s shop near the North Gate reveal a long history of strong women who ran retail units at the property (source CFP_SR00544).