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Cities in lockdown: Footfall 'down by 90pc' in one of our busiest trading streets

 

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English Market, Cork, on first day of the new restrictions. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

English Market, Cork, on first day of the new restrictions. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

English Market, Cork, on first day of the new restrictions. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

A virus achieved in Cork city centre what not even the burning and looting by British troops at the height of the 1920 War of Independence had managed - a St Patrick's Street largely devoid of life.

Covid-19 has transformed parts of Cork into a ghost town with some traders estimating that footfall is now down by 90pc.

At 2pm each day, St Patrick's Street - the beating heart of Ireland's 'City of Merchant Princes' - is normally thronged with people.

Yesterday, one of Ireland's busiest trading streets was largely deserted save for a trickle of shoppers and essential workers.

"I couldn't get rice in the shop down the road from where I live so I wanted to check the supermarkets here," pensioner Mary O'Brien said.

Rampaging

Cork city centre hasn't been so empty of life since December 11 and 12, 1920, when rampaging British troops including Black and Tans burned large sections of St Patrick's Street - yet even then crowds gathered to view the damage.

Taxi driver Eddie Delaney said he had never seen anything like the past fortnight.

"It is desperately quiet - business is way, way down. A lot of people just aren't leaving home," he said.

Some traders in the 18th-century English Market, including renowned fish monger Pat O'Connell who greeted Queen Elizabeth II during her 2011 visit, have introduced special delivery services for customers unable or unwilling to leave home.

"We are doing everything we can to remain open - we are asking people to now do everything they can to help keep local businesses open," he said.

Butcher Tom Durcan said the English Market was ideally suited to social distancing because of the ample space it boasts.

Irish Independent