Planning granted to convert former Cork bookshop into a health food store

Liam Ruiséal bookshop closed in 2018 after more than 100 years in operation
Planning granted to convert former Cork bookshop into a health food store

The former Liam Ruiséal’s bookshop site on Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork. Picture: Larry Cummins

Planning permission has been granted to convert the former Liam Ruiséal bookshop in Cork into a health food store and cafe.

The beloved bookstore located on a prominent site on the corner of Oliver Plunkett St and Marlboro St closed in 2018 after more than 100 years in operation.

Another Cork family business Here's Health has purchased the building and now plans to completely renovate the interior.

The company lodged plans in July to renovate the premises at 49 and 50 Oliver Plunkett St, upgrading the shop front and creating a new entrance from Marlboro Street.

Here's Health, which sells natural products, organic foods, vitamins and herbal supplements has outlets in the Douglas Court and Wilton Shopping Centres and will move their outlet from Patrick's St to Oliver Plunkett St once renovations are complete.

"This site enjoys a huge advantage in that is spans both Marlboro Street and Oliver Plunkett Street. A sensitive reworking would enhance the charm of these streets and allow the pedestrians thereon to enjoy an opening up of this site," the planning application stated.

Planners in Cork City Council had sought further information on the project including confirmation that the café would be ancillary to the main retail functions and changes to the planned elevations.

Here's Health owner John Philpott said the health store will operate at ground level along with a small cafe and the first floor will be reduced in size to provide a double-height space behind the facade to Oliver Plunkett St. The remaining first-floor area will act as an ancillary café space and gallery hosting cooking demonstrations to promote the products on sale in the shop.

A decision has now been made to grant permission for the development.

The Liam Ruiséal bookshop pictured in 1951.

The Liam Ruiséal bookshop pictured in 1951.

"We are delighted that planning permission has been granted," Mr Philpott told the Irish Examiner. "This is a prominent site in the centre of the city that is known by everyone."

"We also see it as a positive that it is changing from one Cork family to another. We will assess the planning conditions but would hope to begin renovation work as quickly as possible," Mr Philpott said.

"Depending on the impact of Covid it could take 11 months to complete so we would to open in the middle of next year." Here's Health also plans to add small cafes to their other outlets.

Liam Ruiséal’s was the oldest bookshop in the city, and one of the oldest independent bookshops in the country when it closed. 

Liam Ruiséal opened his first bookshop on the Grand Parade in 1916 before moving to the Oliver Plunkett Street location 13 years later, and he worked there until his death in 1978.

The store carved out a reputation for specialising in local history, Irish history, educational, and rare books and was renowned for its quirky window displays.

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