Pádraig Hoare: Weary businesses robbed of last chance for trade by floods

Pádraig Hoare: Weary businesses robbed of last chance for trade by floods

Staff at Keanes jewellers protect the front of the shop on Oliver Plunkett Street after early morning flooding in Cork. Picture: Dan Linehan

The floods, a constant menace circling Cork for many years, returned once more.

Many people arriving in Cork city after 10am could have been forgiven for wondering what all the fuss was about, with entry roads clear and areas of business like the South Mall seemingly running like normal.

A closer inspection told a different story, though, with the likes of Winthrop Street counting the cost yet again of a modern European city centre that cannot protect itself from floods, tidal or otherwise.

Businesses, weary but stoic, as only Cork people can be at this stage, spent hours mopping out water and mud from their premises as the city centre’s side streets returned to a semblance of normal after 10am.

 The civil defence working with shop owners on Winthrop Street in Cork after early morning flooding. Picture: Dan Linehan
The civil defence working with shop owners on Winthrop Street in Cork after early morning flooding. Picture: Dan Linehan

Already reeling from the thoughts of having to close again under Level 5 restrictions, businesses like Peter Mark on Winthrop Street had been prepared for a surge of appointments before their closure ahead of the Wednesday midnight Covid-19 deadline.

The likes of Keane's on Oliver Plunkett Street had hoped to get a burst of Christmas shopping before restrictions become effective.

Nature and a lack of flood defences in Ireland’s second city put paid to those best-laid plans, cruelly robbing them of the chance to maximise their profits before they had to close through no fault of their own.

Extreme weather pairing with an insidious virus to form a malevolent entity had tried to test Cork city centre businesses, but they remained defiant.

Workers silently went about their tasks, with echoes of “it could have been worse, thank God” peppering conversations from the South Mall to Parnell Place.

 Brushing out the flood water at 85 South Mall, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
Brushing out the flood water at 85 South Mall, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

They mopped and they mopped, they scrubbed and they scrubbed, they cleaned and they cleaned, the spirit of the city’s people rising to the occasion once more, determined to make this latest setback a dropped stitch in the annals of Cork’s historic tapestry.

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