Commercial Buildings

In any Irish town much of the character of the place is contributed by the commercial architecture. Until the nineteenth century there was not much difference between the buildings which were put up for shops and those which served as houses. In many cases a shopkeeper lived above the premises,
and if he were a tradesman, like a tailor, shoemaker or cabinet maker, he made the products he sold in premises at the back of the building.

The growing industrialisation of production in the early nineteenth century changed the character of trade. Many finished goods were now imported from the factory towns of England (or from industrial Belfast) and, from about 1840, department stores and city markets developed which sold a
very wide range of goods.

From the early Victorian period competition for customers was intense. This is reflected in the increasing attention that the commercial companies paid to the appearance of their buildings. Generally the architecture became much more elaborate and ornate. Banks attempted to reassure depositors that their funds were lodged with a company whose finances were secure by building imposing head offices in a Classical style, while shops, hotels, and public houses all made use of enriched plasterwork and stucco detail on their facades to attract customers.


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