'I feel like I am home': Douglas Village shopping centre reopens after devastating fire

Due to the level five Covid-19 restrictions, not all of the shops in the centre are permitted to reopen today. 
'I feel like I am home': Douglas Village shopping centre reopens after devastating fire

Centre manager Bartosz Mieszala and Cllr Mary Rose Desmond at Douglas Village Shopping centre. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

'Shop local' is the message from Douglas Village traders today, as the benighted shopping centre reopens a year and three months after a fire tore through the building's car park, rendering the structure unstable and leaving the traders locked out of their shops.

Due to the level five Covid-19 restrictions, not all of the shops in the centre are permitted to reopen today. 

However, Tesco lifted the shutters today and Bank of Ireland will reopen on Monday. 

Tesco invested €1.5 million in the refurbishment of the Douglas store and in making improvements to other Cork stores this year. 

30 new jobs have also been created in the Douglas shop, and 100 employees who worked there prior to the fire will return.

"We are thrilled to reopen our store at Douglas Shopping Centre today. Reopening under Level 5 restrictions is certainly a very different event than we might have planned, I’m delighted to say we've been able to deliver a safe and easy experience for our returning customers," said Dermot Hever, the store's manager.

"I must commend and thank our colleagues who were temporarily re-deployed to our sister stores in Cork, and I know they’re all delighted to be back in the Douglas store serving the customers they know so well.

"We’re also very thankful to our customers for their patience and support as we all work to respond to Covid-19."

Patrick Breslin, Breslin butchers and Niall Marron at Douglas Village Shopping centre which has re-opened. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Patrick Breslin, Breslin butchers and Niall Marron at Douglas Village Shopping centre which has re-opened. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

The Douglas Village Shopping Centre branch of Bank of Ireland will reopen on Monday. The Head of Bank of Ireland in Cork city, Sean Byerley, said the bank has been looking forward to getting the branch reopened ever since the fire.

"Douglas is a thriving business and residential hub adjacent to Cork city and to have customers finally returning to the new-look branch will be a welcome sight for all Bank of Ireland staff on-site."

The other traders are keen to open their doors on December 1, to welcome back their loyal customers just in time for some Christmas shopping. 

Queues at Douglas Village Shopping centre which has re-opened
Queues at Douglas Village Shopping centre which has re-opened

Vicki Creber from Itso Me boutique says seeing the shopping centre reopen was like coming home.

She had a pop up shop in St Patrick's Woollen Mills in Douglas back in September, but that's closed now.    

"I am just getting ready to reopen my premises in the shopping centre on December 1. I can't wait to get back in and open the doors, just to feel like I am home.

"I am very excited, seeing the shopping centre open today made me very emotional. It's been a long 15 months, it was a long process, but it's a very happy day."

She says so much hard work went on behind the scenes and to see it all come to fruition made it a good day for her.

Julie Campell and her son Flynn McCarthy and her sister Christine Keohane at Douglas Village Shopping centre which has re-opened
Julie Campell and her son Flynn McCarthy and her sister Christine Keohane at Douglas Village Shopping centre which has re-opened

Ms Creber added that shopping local is on everyone's mind, and believes that local people will come out and support the Douglas Village traders. 

"We have gone through a lot with the fire and the pandemic. That's the message to get out there, to shop local, support the traders. If we don't have local shops we won't have local jobs."  

Centre Manager Bartosz Mieszala and Cllr Mary Rose Desmond at Douglas Village Shopping centre which has re-opened
Centre Manager Bartosz Mieszala and Cllr Mary Rose Desmond at Douglas Village Shopping centre which has re-opened

Seán Ó Riordan, chair of the Douglas Business Association, said it was a good day for the village. He runs an accountancy firm in Douglas.

"I wish the traders in there every success. They have had a really torrid time, going from floods, to fire, to the pandemic.

"I hope that they regain their business. I believe that people will return and shop local to support them. It will bring business into Douglas village too." 

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