The family behind one of the country’s oldest independent bookshops, the iconic Liam Ruiséal’s in Cork City, has blamed increased competition and the recession for the decision to cease trading within months.

Family members including Bríd Hughes, a granddaughter of founder Liam Ruiséal, issued an emotional thank you to their customers for over a century of support.

However, they said that trading as a small independent bookseller became too difficult due to increased competition from online retailers and large retail chains.

“The recent economic downturn was also a contributing factor,” said the family.

“As a family business, with over 100 years’ history in Cork City, it was a difficult and emotional decision for us.

“We will miss the community of traders in Oliver Plunkett St, and surrounds, and most of all our colleagues and friends, who have worked with us for many years.

“We thank the people of Cork and beyond, who have supported us for over a century of trading. We will close our doors with fond memories of our customers, our suppliers and neighbours in Oliver Plunkett St.

“As this chapter comes to an end, we wish everyone the best of reading for the next chapter.”

The shock announcement of the closure of the landmark shop comes just over a year after the business celebrated its centenary.

Its closure will leave the city centre with just two independent bookshops — Vibes & Scribes on Lavitt’s Quay and the Time Traveller’s Bookshop on Wandesford Quay.

Local historian Diarmuid Ó Drisceoil described Liam Ruiséal’s as being as iconic to book lovers as the English Market is to people interested in food.

“People in Cork have a great attachment to it. For people interested in books, Liam Ruiséal’s is kind of like their spiritual home,” he said.

He described the impending closure as very sad for readers, writers, and for the atmosphere of the city.

Shop founder Liam Ruiséal, a lifelong Irish republican and Irish language enthusiast, was born in Cork’s South Parish in November 1891.

In 1916, thanks to financial backing from his father, he opened the Fountain Bookshop on the Grand Parade with Bríd Dixon — the woman he would marry in 1919.

The shop was frequently raided by the Royal Irish Constabulary during the turbulent years of the struggle for independence.

Mr Ruiséal closed that bookshop and relocated the business, which now bears his name in an iconic Gaelic script sign above the door, to its current location on Oliver Plunkett St in 1929, extending into an adjoining unit in 1966.

His bookshop carved out a reputation for specialising in local history, Irish history, educational, and rare books, and was renowned for its creative window displays.

Mr Ruiséal worked in the bookshop until three weeks before his death on October 26, 1978, aged 87.


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