Cork's oldest bookshop Liam Ruiséal’s to close

Cork's oldest bookshop Liam Ruiséal’s to close
Liam Ruiseal in Oliver Plunkett Street. Picture: Richard Mills.

After more than 100 years of trading, Liam Ruiséal’s bookshop is to close in the coming months.

A staff member confirmed the closure but said they were too upset to discuss it further. The shop currently has a clearance sale advertised but a date for the closure has not yet been announced. A statement is expected from the shop later this week.

President Michael D. Higgins speaking to Brid Hughes of Liam Ruiséal bookshop. Picture: Denis Scannell
President Michael D. Higgins speaking to Brid Hughes of Liam Ruiséal bookshop. Picture: Denis Scannell

The oldest bookshop in the city, and one of the oldest independent bookshops in the country, Liam Ruiséal’s has been an institution on Oliver Plunkett Street for generations.

Liam Ruiséal opened his first bookshop on the Grand Parade in 1916. Thirteen years later he relocated to the current location. A native of Cork city, he had previously worked for another bookshop in the city and was known for his love of Irish language and culture.

He kept working in the shop until three weeks before his death in 1978.

Brid Hughes, granddaughter of founder Liam Ruiseal, William Geoghegan, Maedhbh O'Herlihy, great-granddaughter of the founder, and Dara Brady, granddaughter of Liam Ruiseal pictured outside the Cork City bookstore. Pic; Larry Cummins
Brid Hughes, granddaughter of founder Liam Ruiseal, William Geoghegan, Maedhbh O'Herlihy, great-granddaughter of the founder, and Dara Brady, granddaughter of Liam Ruiseal pictured outside the Cork City bookstore. Pic; Larry Cummins

CBA president Pat O'Connell, who runs Kay O'Connell Fish Merchants nearby in the English Market, said that he is sad to see the shop close its doors.

"It's really unfortunate. It has a huge history and it was a fabulous place in a great spot.

"They are a part of the city centre family, and we want to keep family businesses going because that is what gives Cork its character.

He said that it was particularly sad as Oliver Plunkett Street and the city centre is doing so well.

"It more shame when the city centre is bouncing back. It was such an important part of Oliver Plunkett Street," he said.

Bookseller Liam Ruiseal in 1973.
Bookseller Liam Ruiseal in 1973.

However, he said that he understood that it is difficult to compete in the book retail sector due to the big names operating in Cork and online.

The shop remained in the family until the present day. Mr Ruiséal’s granddaughter Bríd Hughes spoke of the difficulty of competing with the bigger book chains in 2016.

“But we have to keep fighting our corner, and being independent, and doing things differently,” she said. “People will always get a more personal service here.” The shop specialises in Irish history, in particular local Cork history, and is known for the many memorable window displays created by staff over the years.

In a tweet, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said that the shop is "part of Cork's DNA" and an "oasis for booklovers."

More in this section

Sponsored Content