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Here's why Northside Shopping Centre is one of the most special places in Ireland

Name one other shopping centre in Ireland with a swimming pool on the roof.

bsct entrance Source: Google Maps

FOR ANYONE THAT grew up in Coolock, Northside Shopping Centre is one of the most familiar and comfortable places in the world. We have basically all spent our lives there.

Some of us spent our childhoods abandoned by our parents in the creche that used to be in Superquinn.

Most of us hung around there in our early teens, but almost all of us have stood around impatiently as teenagers and adults waiting on our mams, dads or grandparents as they stop and talk to what seems like every single person they see in the shopping centre.

That’s not even counting how much time we spent in a certain nightclub in the carpark either. Below are some of the most unique things about Northside Shopping Centre, to remind you how important it is.

1. Where else would you get a shopping centre with a swimming pool on the roof?

coolock-pool-new Source: Dublin City Architects

It’s such a random feature that you would expect to see in the likes of Dubai, but never on an old shopping centre in Dublin. While it sounds like an incredibly futuristic and exotic feature to a shopping centre, it’s admittedly executed a little bit underwhelmingly.

Hundreds of local children were taken there by primary schools once a week for swimming lessons. Not many people outside of Coolock can say they learned how to swim upstairs from a Dunnes Stores and a Poundshop.

2. The nightclub in the carpark

12194528_1187923037891832_8557854577064064096_o Source: Dusk Nightclub via Facebook

Where would you get a nightclub in a carpark? Yeah ok fine maybe Blanch had a nightclub, but it was nowhere near as iconic as The Blacker. Although controversial, The Blacker was a pillar of the community.

People loved it because it’s location meant you could drink at home, arrive at midnight, pay a tenner in and not spend another penny for the rest of the night. Not even on a taxi, as it was within walking distance of many peoples homes, unlike Wrights or any competitors in town.

On any given 90′s Night, locals were guaranteed to see all of their cousins, half of their secondary school and every person they made their confirmation with.

Drinks promotions were ridiculous, the “Blackout Tray” cost €20 and included 1 jug of vodka and red bull, 2 pints of Fat Frog, 2 apple shots, 2 cola shots and a Smirnoff ice cocktail.

1396048_740372639313543_111929456_n Source: Dusk Nightclub via Facebook

Although it’s currently out of business, people are desperately waiting for The Blacker to return and there’s no doubt it’ll be as popular as always when it does.

3. The fact that it’s surrounded by underground tunnels

tunnels Two of the tunnel entrances, as seen on Google Maps Source: Google Maps

The tunnels at Northside were once open to the public so that people could access the shopping centre and the surrounding fields. Unfortunately, after the shopping centre’s recent makeover, the entrances have all been bricked up.

They will always exist fondly in the memories of teenagers who drank in them or walked through them to go to swimming lessons with their schools.

4. The variety of shops that have been there over the years

One particular favourite of mine was this O2 Store.

Capture Source: kelly/Twitter

Yes that is an O2 shop with nothing inside of it except a machine for buying credit for your mobile phone.

It gets even better when you look closely at the machine:

2 Source: kelly/Twitter

I visited Northside several times during the summer that this O2 store was open, and not once did I see this machine in working order.

5. The fact that it never really changes

There’s no doubt that this shopping centre suffered a lot through the recession and lost many of the big Irish brands it once had (Dunnes drapery and homeware, Lifestyle Sports, Champion Sports, Graham O’Sullivan’s and that poor O2 Shop to name a few).

If you manage to visit Northside once a year, you will find that there is always something new there in the place of something you didn’t realise you took for granted.

download Source: Google Maps

However, the classics always manage to stay, if only through locals refusal to call them by their new names. Supervalu? What’s that? Oh, you mean Superquinn. Don’t even think about calling The Poundshop by its new name (new name as in, it’s had that name in this shopping centre for at least ten years), The Two Euro Shop. Who cares what year we changed currency?

In fact some people even go a step further and still refer to it as Tommy’s. As in Tommy’s Wonderland, a shop that sold communion dresses and school stationery, which has been closed for about twelve years at this stage.

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About the author:

Kelly Earley

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