History & Gallery

Market Counts Fire Cost 

Evening Echo, Friday, 20th June 1980

FIREMEN had to cut through an anti-vandal security gate to gain access to the burning Princes Street Market, Cork, last night. 

This morning as stunned stall owners were surveying the burned out remains of their premises, the cause of the fire was still not known, report Pat Brosnan and Denis Reading. 

One of the first people to arrive this morning on the scene was Mrs. Siobhan O’Connor, who ran a fruit and vegetable stall, one of the eleven stalls destroyed. 

Mrs. O’Connor whose family has been in business in the market for 33 years, said she saw the flames of the fire at 11.15 p.m. up in Fairhill. 

“I thought it was some clothing factory in the city on fire, but as I was going home to Doyle Road I realised it was the market.”

She continued:  “I stopped in the Grand Parade and looked through the gates of the market from that end and honest to God, it was like looking into hell.”

Mrs. O’Connor said that the fire was a terrible blow because her whole livelihood was gone, and everything that she had ever worked for, but she said she was thankful that no lives were lost. 

“All the character of this beautiful market is gutted and I suppose we will never see anything like it again.”

Over the years, she said something should have been done to preserve the Princess Street end of the market. 

Her sister, Mrs. Eileen Aherne, who had a stall alongside Mrs. O’Connor, alongside Mrs. O’Connor, said the Corporation had done nothing over the years to improve that end of the market and she hoped that they would immediately start work on rebuilding the gutted market. 

Six units of Cork Fire Brigade from Anglesea Street and Watercourse Road fought the blaze.  When they arrived the entire area by the fountain was on fire up to the roof level.  They then had to get to the balcony overlooking that area to shut off the gas supply. 

However, when the fire brigade personnel arrived they were unable to get the huge iron gates, which give entry to the market, open because they secured so well.  They managed to gain access through a door on Princes Street which leads into O’Hare’s butchers stall.  Eventually, they had to cut through a roll down type security shutter between the market and Market Parade.  According to one fire brigade officer, this was how they prevented the fire from spreading to the Grand Parade end of the market.

Cork Corporation officials were today briefing a design team so that work could start immediately on restoring the Princes Street Market, destroyed in last night’s fire.  

The city’s new Assistant Manager, Mr. Pat Keenan, told the Echo that the building would be restored as near as possible to the original design. 

The architectural input would be by the Corporation’s own staff and the engineering works would be carried out by Mr. Ml. Horgan of the firm of Horgan and Lynch who have the contract for the refurbishing of the English Market. 

Mr. Keenan said that the 11 stall-holders displaced by the fire were being relocated elsewhere in the market, where there was ample space. 

Cork Corporation has spent £290,000 to date on refurbishing the market.  Most of this sum was spent on re-roofing the Grand Parade.

The Corporation was working on phase three of the market development and the work was scheduled to be completed by Christmas. 

Mr. Keenan who has special responsibility for the city markets, said that the Fire Chief, Captain Cathal Garvey, would be reporting to the Corporation in due course.  They did not know at this stage what had caused the fire. 

The chairman of the Market’s sub committee, Cllr. Paud Black, said today that the Corporation were adopting a positive approach to the last night’s disaster. 

He said the Corporation would do everything possible to facilitate the traders and said that the restoration of the Princes Street Market would start as soon as possible. 

Cllr. Black, the Lord Mayor, Cllr. Jim Corr and the City Architect, Tony McNamara, this morning visited the market to see the extent of the damage.  They referred to the splendid work carried out by members of the brigade, who brought the huge blaze under control within half an hour and who prevented the fire from spreading into the Grand Parade section of the market, where the vast majority of the 113 stalls are located. 

There is no town gas supply in the area concerned, and it is understood that there is no question of the fire having been caused by an escape or explosion of town gas.