Nostalgia: Celebrating 50 years of Douglas Village Shopping Centre 

The official opening of the centre, which at the time was Cork’s biggest shopping complex, took place on November 17, 1971.
Nostalgia: Celebrating 50 years of Douglas Village Shopping Centre 

Official opening of  Douglas Village Shopping Centre on November 17, 1971.

Douglas Village Shopping Centre celebrated a milestone this week marking 50 years of business in the heart of the village.

The official opening of the centre, which at the time was Cork’s biggest shopping complex, took place on November 17, 1971.

Earlier that year, Quinnsworth confirmed that it would be opening in the centre, then simply known as Douglas Shopping Centre.

It marked the supermarket chain’s first store outside Dublin.

The old Douglas Village Shopping Centre before it was revamped. Picture: Maurice O'Mahony
The old Douglas Village Shopping Centre before it was revamped. Picture: Maurice O'Mahony

“Though grocery will be an important part of the 27,000 square feet complex, hardware, sports, lamp, photographic, shoe and drapery departments will also be provided,” an Evening Echo article from September 28 stated.

“It is expected that much of the success of the ultra-modern new store will depend on late night opening,” the article said of the new store which managing director of Quinnsworth Pat Quinn anticipated would have an annual turnover of £1,000,000.

The new store cost in the region of £150,000 to fit.

Douglas Village Shopping Centre pictured in 2008. Picture: Denis Scannell
Douglas Village Shopping Centre pictured in 2008. Picture: Denis Scannell

On the opening day of the new shopping centre, two schoolchildren accompanied by Santa Claus and comedian Hal Roach arrived by helicopter to cut the ribbon and officially open the complex.

Over 400 guests were in attendance, “including 150 who travelled on the Pat Quinn Express Train from Dublin for the occasion,” newspaper coverage from that day stated.

Among the notable guests was the Lord Mayor of the day, Timothy J O’Sullivan, the chairman of Cork County Council, other city and county officials, members of the Traders’ Committee, and the directors of Shop Properties Ltd, the developers of the site.

All the guests were taken on a conducted tour of the centre and were later given a buffet lunch.

“Patrons of Douglas Shopping Centre will almost certainly be impressed by its enticement to leisure shopping,” the article from that day stated.

“The acre site which opens on both the main Douglas Road and the South Main Douglas Road includes a total shop area of 45,000 square feet.

Hickeys former shop in Douglas Village Shopping Centre, pictured in 2005. 
Hickeys former shop in Douglas Village Shopping Centre, pictured in 2005. 

“There are 25 shop units offering all kinds of wares and foodstuffs,” it continued.

The largest of these units was Quinnsworth — a chain that was later bought by Tesco.

The article from November 17, 1971 paid complement to the layout and design of the new shopping centre.

“The low structure is built around a central paved courtyard and most of the arcades are covered.

“Walls of medium grey-black brick focus attention on shop window displays and are conducive to a relaxed mood very much removed from the usual bustle in less well-appointed and less favourably placed shopping centres.

“With no parking problems and away from the frenetic bustle of the city, patrons will walk on malls reserved for pedestrians.

“These malls converge on a focal square where the colour and brightness created by shop windows enhance this exceptionally conceived complex.”

Part of the long queue of fans waiting to get an autograph from Jean Elliott of 'You're a Star'. Picture: Richard Mills. 2004
Part of the long queue of fans waiting to get an autograph from Jean Elliott of 'You're a Star'. Picture: Richard Mills. 2004

Five years after the shopping centre opened, Douglas Library was established in the centre.

The opening of the library in 1976 was significant in that it was one of the first libraries outside of the Central Library to be established.

The past year has marked a significant milestone in itself for the new shopping centre, which underwent a significant revamp in 2008, as it reopened in November 2020 following the devastating fire in 2019.

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