The Times We Lived In: The wonder of a new shopping centre in 1960s Dublin

Published: December 11th, 1967. Photograph: Dermot Barry

 Stillorgan Shopping Centre in 1967.  Photograph : Dermot Barry.

Stillorgan Shopping Centre in 1967. Photograph : Dermot Barry.

 

In December 1967 Dublin was a much smaller city, and Stillorgan a village straggling up the hill from an unremarkable road.

But something new had landed on Stillorgan’s socio-cultural horizon: a shopping centre. As it celebrated its first birthday, the Irish Times feature writer Eileen O’Brien sallied forth to the outer suburbs to take a look at this baffling new phenomenon.

Her article makes it sound very, very large and very, very far away – like the Andromeda Galaxy. The headline, “The Supermarket World”, added to the spacey vibe, while Dermot Barry’s photograph gives a stern, even claustrophobic impression. Merciless horizontal lines plunge into the heart of the picture, dwarfing the shoppers, with the exception of the rather stylish lady in the foreground.

It’s ironic, given that Stillorgan’s retail village has always been famous – or infamous – for having no roof. Most of the internal space is open to the sky, and thus – for better or worse – the vagaries of the weather. The photographer placed himself and his unforgiving lens beneath an overhang, presenting the reader with a sort of optical illusion.

If you visit today you can recreate the angle, for despite the ongoing upgrades which have added height and bling to the external facade, and the addition of olive trees in huge, shiny red pots, the centre doesn’t really look all that different.

Back in 1967, O’Brien wasn’t convinced.

On offer at Stillorgan, she declared, were “supermarkets, hairdressers, high-class delicatessens, television sets” and “a satiety of things one does not need: plastic bows to tie on Christmas presents, for instance, for 1s 9d each….”

Local ladies, meanwhile, were of the opinion that the phenomenon wouldn’t last.

“I hate supermarkets,” one told O’Brien. “I would not go to one. Even if they are cheaper – and I wonder about that – my time and peace of mind are infinitely more precious to me . . .”

Jeepers. Good job they didn’t know what was coming down the retail road. A supermarket world into which we’re all firmly boxed with no sign of an exit, anywhere.

You can buy this photograph and other Irish Times images from irishtimes.com/photosales

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.