Top publican Benny McCabe says North Main Street can become Cork's version of Temple Bar

Top publican Benny McCabe says North Main Street can become Cork's version of Temple Bar
Benny McCabe in his smoking room in the Bodega Bar in Cork. Picture: Des Barry /PUBLICAN. OWNER.

“A thinking person’s Temple Bar” is how one of the city centre’s most successful publicans has described the future of North Main Street.

Benny McCabe, who owns and runs pubs in Cork, including Rising Sons Brewery, Bodega, The Vicarstown Bar, BDSM, The Oval, Sin é and Mutton Lane, said he thought the street would see an upturn in the not-to-distant future.

“I feel that North Main Street has the biggest potential of any street in Cork at the minute and have great expectations for the wider area.

"It’s being left so long, it’s looking vaguely retro-trendy, buildings like that won’t be built again.

“It will happen sooner when we see construction begin on the events centre...It could be a thinking person’s temple bar!” 

North Main Street
North Main Street

Cork Business Association President Philip Gillivan agreed, saying North Main Street could mirror the success of MacCurtain Street where they rejuvenated the area by creating the Victorian Quarter.

“I always compare it to MacCurtain Street, 10 to 15 years ago, loads of potential, but nothing happening.

“I think if the traders work together with City Hall, absolutely, there is no reason why it can’t become Cork’s Temple Bar.

"I think everyone would love to see North Main Street do well, it's quirky, it could become another nighttime spot.

“The Victorian Quarter would love to see them achieve what we have achieved up here.” 

Meanwhile, Mr McCabe said his North Main Street establishments saw the “calmest Christmas in years” with zero incidents of note.

Mr McCabe believes this was due to extra Garda deployment on the beat over the festive period.

“There has been a noticeable improvement in antisocial behaviour in the city centre,” Mr McCabe said.

Traders and residents organised a street party on North Main Street last year.Pic; Larry Cummins
Traders and residents organised a street party on North Main Street last year.Pic; Larry Cummins

Mr Gillivan also said there was no question that the extra Gardaí made a huge difference across the city centre.

“Publicans and retailers have commented that the city was calmer, there were fewer beggars and there was a much better air around the city.

“There was a noticeable increase in visibility of Gardaí and it was badly needed.” 

Mr Gillivan said that optics make a difference and that his establishment The Shelbourne Bar on MacCurtain Street and it’s sister bar Costigan’s on Washington Street had a much calmer Christmas than in previous years.

“From December 1 to January 6, that five-week period, there was not even one minor incident. No trouble at all.” 

Mr McCabe said when they opened his bars on North Main Street six years ago, it was a hard task to get people to go there.

In recent times, The Vicarstown bar and its neighbouring establishment BDSM, have seen a surge in popularity.

“We had to change a few years back and now we are changing again and it reflects a positive change in the city. 

"Now the demand is coming earlier and earlier with less demand later at night, so we are opening earlier to cater for it.”

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