1846 – Queen’s Old Castle, Grand Parade, Cork
William Fitzgibbon from Rathkeale, Co. Limerick, began a drapery store in Shandon street, and proved a great success. After a few years he moved the business which continued to flourish. He then conceived the idea of a vast store with various departments, and started acquiring and roofing in the entire block, bounded by the South Main street, Castle street, Grand Parade, and Brunswick street. And so gradually he acquired leasehold and fee-simple properties, including the disused Cork Courthouse.
Work commenced in 1844, and in 1846 the new warehouse was ready for occupation. It was an instant success. Named The Queen’s Old Castle, a compliment to Queen Victoria who was then reigning, and described as ‘a model establishment of the kind, – lofty and well lighted’. Fitzgibbon foresaw the advantages of the departmental system by introducing the different trades under one roof. In this way the Queen’s Old Castle was the first fully equipped department warehouse in the United Kingdom. The shopfront was added to designs by S.F. Hynes in 1911 with further improvements in 1927 by Chillingworth & Levie, .
The premises was eventually converted from a department store to shopping centre in 1980. Now it is only a couple of larger commercial shopping units and awaits redevelopment.