Following the siege of Cork in 1690 and the partial destruction of the medieval city walls, the city began to expand rapidly in the area outside the walls and began to take on a recognisably modern configuration. Circa 1783 the main river channel to the south of the medieval core was culverted and the modern day principal street, St. Patrick’s Street (3), was formed. This can be clearly seen in Figure 1 below.
Figure 1: 1545 Plan of Cork City showing Medieval City and curved river channel underlying the future St. Patrick’s Street running between two marsh areas to east
Source: Cork City Council Libraries, 2007.
A gradual shift occurred in the location of the commercial centre, from the medieval city eastwards towards St. Patrick’s Street. With the opening of St. Patrick's Bridge in 1789 developing a route to the northern suburbs, St. Patrick's Street began to gradually assume the role of the main street over North and South Main Streets.
The numerous marshes were reclaimed between St. Patrick's Street and South Mall and to the west of the city and the river channels between the marshes were infilled to form the Grand Parade, Henry Street, Grattan Street, Cornmarket Street, Sheare's Street, and other streets. By 1790, the outline of the city centre as we know it today was established. The late eighteenth century saw the construction of bridges linking the centre of the city to the suburbs. St. Patrick's Bridge, Parliament Bridge and Clarke's Bridge all date from this period while the North and South Gate Bridges, to the north and south of the medieval city's main street, had been rebuilt in the 1710-1715 period.