City councillors have had an impassioned debate about the future of the historic area, claiming that the local authority needs to get creative to improve the once-thriving market.
Some councillors advocated for the demolition of the existing market stalls, installed during the €4 million revamp of the street, which was finished in 2011.
Despite the investment, though, city councillors claim that the area is struggling.
Its wide-open plaza is frequently used by motorists for parking, while Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy added that there is a disconnect between what the bigger and smaller traders want for the area.
Mr McCarthy called on Cork City Council to bring stakeholders together for further discussion to ensure that all sides of the debate are heard.
He wants to see the famous markets preserved, but suggested it could be enhanced to make it more of a draw for Leesiders.
Others suggested more drastic measures, though.
While some members of the Council recalled old memories of shopping on the Coal Quay, Fine Gael’s Des Cahill described the nostalgia for the area as ‘rubbish’.
“We need to get rid of those horrible boxes,” he said.
“The businesses in the area have made representations about these taking up the centre of the plaza and they’re basically unused most of the time.
“The Coal Quay is only a success now because of the money put into it by private businesses and we need to fix the area.”
Shane O’Shea of Sinn Féin added, “We need to get a grip on reality. Shopping habits have changed. People are going online for goods and services.
“Look at the example of MacCurtain St for what an area can become. You could spend a night there in the bars and restaurants — it’s a huge change in just a few years. There is no reason that the Coal Quay can’t replicate that.”
His colleague Thomas Gould called on the city to stage live music, family festivals and more markets in the area, while the Lord Mayor, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald, suggested extending the Glow Christmas market to the Coal Quay area, claiming it would drive visitors to the area at that time of year.
Others advocated preserving the area as one of historic importance, though.
Workers’ Party councillor Ted Tynan suggesting reducing the cost of trading licences to encourage more market traders to operate in the area.
Henry Cremin of Sinn Féin said he is ‘afraid of losing the traditions’ of the area.