The Exchange Building

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  • Moments in Cork City History

The Heart of Trading in Cork City

The Exchange was built between 1705 and 1710. It was designed by a famous architect named Twiss Jones. It was a place where local merchants could meet to do business. The Exchange was one of the finest buildings in the city. It stood directly on the main street, dividing the city into north and south.

1750: Smith's map of Cork
Copyright Cork City Libraries

At the time the Exchange was built, Cork city had a booming trade industry in its busy ports and harbours. The Exchange was important as a meeting place for all the tradesmen and merchants in the city to buy and sell their wares. Stalls were set up outside the Exchange by smaller traders, selling clothes, food and tools.

In 1837, the Exchange was demolished. Later, some of its stones were used to construct Saint Peter's Church, which is now the Cork Vision Centre.

In his 1861 book,The History of the County and City of Cork, Rev. C. B. Gibson describes some of the scenes that took place on the streets outside the Exchange building:

"Near the Exchange, a Breeches (trousers) Market, was held there every Wednesday and Saturday 1772, to the annoyance of passengers ... overgrown fellows are frequently fitted with small clothes in view of the females who pass by."

The Exchange was, for many years, at the heart of trading and prosperity in Cork City. In 1811, a great fire wiped out a large part of the city around the Exchange. All the commercial and financial businesses had to move to the south wall because of the fire . The Exchange lay empty for many years until it was demolished.