Galway Woolworths – Store 808

36 Eyre Square, Galway, Ireland

Woolworths opened in Galway, Ireland, in 1953. With thanks to Stephen Nolan who sent me all the below information about the store, which traded for 31 years.

Galway Woolworths 1956

Source: Woolworths History and Photos

Store 808 Galway was purpose built opening in 1953 on the site of the former Royal Hotel in the heart of Galway City on Eyre Square. This is a prime location in a popular tourist destination.

Galway Woolworths

Source: Galway memories

From the Galway Advertiser:

The shop was big and L-shaped, getting wider towards the back. It had one of those photographic booths where you got four passport photographs. It was the first such machine in town and a very big attraction. It also had a machine that produced beautiful ice cream cones, and another that kept salted peanuts warm. It was no wonder it became such a popular hangout for young teenagers”.

Galway Woolworths

Source: Galway Memories

Galway was the last store to be refurbished before the American majority shareholders had sold out in 1982.

Galway Woolworths 1982

Source: Galway Memories

£150,000 was spent on refurbishing the shop, but two years later in 1984 even though it was a highly performing shop is was closed along with all the other Woolworth branches in the Irish Republic.

Galway Woolworths 1970s

Source: O’Neill, R.

On Tuesday 11 September 1984 the Connacht Sentinel led with the banner headline “Woolworths Closed Down by Dispute”. It reported that staff in Galway City, who had never had a dispute before, were taking industrial action just three weeks before the store was due to close. They had enlisted the help of the Irish Distributive and Administrative Trade Union. The Union had said that “the staff were very bitter … principally because of the manner in which the premises were sold”, and that “there was no attempt made … to protect staff jobs”. Five other stores had joined the action.

Galway Woolworths

Source: Woolworth Museum

Primark (trading as “Penneys” in the Irish Republic) were the next occupants of the Woolworths building on Eyre Square, later moving to the new Eyre Square Shopping Centre. The building was then taken over by Supermacs, an Irish fast food chain which remodelled the façade of the Woolworth’s building. 

Galway Former Woolworths

Source: Connach Tribune

In 2020 the Galway Woolworth’s staff is still holding reunions 36 years after the store closed. Their facebook notice has a number of photos of the happy store team sharing memories.


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