Tom Spalding: North Main Street

Tom Spalding 2017.JPG


Tom Spalding: North Main Street


North Main Street and South Main Street


In this interview, Tom Spalding, a local historian and author, discusses his research methods and interests concerning the development of the North and South Main Street area over time. His interest lies primarily in what he calls “street furniture” – street signage and other fixtures on the street within public areas (such as benches, bronze plaques, and post boxes). When prompted, he discusses the nature of changing street names within Cork: streets like Wellington Road will have multiple other street names associated with them and for which the properties receive their own address numbers, such as Montpellier Terrace, Connaught Place, and Garfield Terrace. Tom also lists Paradise Place on the corner of South Main Street and Castle Street, as another example of this phenomenon and describes the history behind the name “Paradise”. He also states that names may have been changed on paper, which can be traced through painstaking archival research reaching back 150 years, but that street names did not necessarily always catch on “on the ground”. Another topic of discussion is where North Main Street ends and South Main Street begins. Tom presents evidence for the divide occurring at the Liberty Street and Castle Street junction, explaining that Washington Street would have been cut through the medieval part of the city in the 18th and 19th centuries. There is some discussion of local pubs and businesses that Tom frequents: Leaders, the Benny McCabe pubs, the Raven, the Vicarstown, and the Castle. Lastly, Tom gets into a discussion of renovations and construction over old ‘street furniture’ evidence of prior businesses and old artisanship within the city. Some examples he lists are the renovation of North Main Street “20 years ago” (in the 1990s) as well as City Council pedestrianizing Prince’s Street in the 1980s. He advocates keeping things that are of heritage value that are still in functioning order and do not present a hazard to pedestrians.


14 January 2015




Cork; Ireland; 1800s - 2000s;


Other Interviews with Tom Spalding:

Penny Johnston based a digital oral history mapping pilot project called ‘Cork’s Main Streets’ on the audio interviews from this collection in 2016, as part of her PhD research. The 2018 website and the map layer can be viewed at:

Penny’s PhD dissertation can be accessed at:

Other Material Relating to Cork's Main Streets:

CFP_SR00448_hinchy_2012: Interview of ex-Beamish Brewery (South Main Street) staff member Ed Hinchy.

CFP_SR00532_davis_2014: Interview with the former manager of The Other Place Resource Centre (South Main Street), Clive Davis, conducted by Stephen Dee and Dermot Casey, as part of the LGBT Archive Collection

CFP_SR00535_wilkins_2014: Mark Wilkins was interviewed by Aisling Byron on the music scene of Cork City in the 1980s and 1990s: the interview contains an in-depth discussion of South Main Street music venue Sir Henry’s and of the South Main Street pub The Liberty.


Cork Folklore Project Audio Archive


Cork Folklore Project






1.wav File




38 mins 40 secs


Farrenferris, Cork

Original Format


Bit Rate/Frequency

24bit / 48kHz


The following is a short extract from the interview transcript, copyright of the Cork Folklore Project. If you wish to access further archival material please contact CFP,

MS: Em no I was just asking you about Paradise Place

TS: Oh Paradise Place yeah so on the North Main Street and the South Main Street em generally the street is, is, is simply numeric you know starting from Castle Street, Liberty Street intersection north and south right em but for some reason there’s a little section there on the corner of South Main Street and Castle Street which is Paradise Place with about four little business’ there and they CCYMSA hall above it, there was a, it’s hard to explain but kind of a fortified town house on that corner which was called Paradise and it was owned by the I think it was the Terry’s but if you check June Johnson’s book you’ll get this, get the correct thing but one of the merchant families of the city they were the Roches’ and the Terry’s you know the old English Catholic families em and they called their home Paradise sometimes it’s spelt with a zed sometimes with an s em and I don’t know the, the reason for the name and it’s kind of lost in time at this stage it could have been to do with they thought it was paradise em I don’t know but obviously that building is long gone but the memory of their home is preserved in Paradise Place which is why that’s there em like, there is another funny street name on North Main Street which is Piccadilly Lane and June Johnson doesn’t em sug, suggest any reason in her book why it’s called Piccadilly Lane at least from my memory anyway em but she does note that it, that it had been renamed and that’s, that’s very common on the North Main and South Main Streets that all the little side lanes have been renamed many times and I am not even including just spelling the name differently with or without a y or an e or whatever the names have changed frequently em usually to do with a change of ownership because a lot of those lanes more or less were originally intended as private access to peoples houses so they were named after a family or a business that was on the lane or near the lane but yeah Piccadilly Lane my suspicions is it something to do with the reference to do with the reference to the London place named Piccadilly because we have quite a few London place names in Cork not as many as they do in Dublin like where they have Temple Bar and they have Portobello and these things you know we have, we have the Mall like the Mall in London and we have, em, we have Piccadilly and there’s a couple of others too em and I suspect there might have been a bit of a red light district, [laughing] that’s my hunch but again very hard to prove, em it’s not the kind of thing that would get reported in polite newspapers.

Interview Format



Cork Folklore Project , “Tom Spalding: North Main Street,” accessed August 12, 2022,