Dundalk Shopping Center brought back to life with AI technology

One of Ireland’s first malls, Dundalk Shopping Centre, has been brought back to life thanks to artificial intelligence technology.

Undalk computer software engineer Paul McClean recreated images of the famous shopping mall, which opened in 1974, using the Midjourney artificial intelligence tool.

Demolished in 2013 to make room for a Tesco Extra, the shopping center holds a special place in the memory of many from Dundalk and its surroundings.


Dundalk’s Old Shopping Center Created with AI

After posting some photos to Twitter, he said, “I am using artificial intelligence to rebuild one of the world’s greatest lost architectural and cultural masterpieces, Dundalk Shopping Centre.”

“It just went a little crazy — I wasn’t expecting it at all,” he says of the reaction to the photos, which saw many people reminisce about their teenage years spending time at the center.

Bringing back some good memories here Paul. One wrote: ‘I feel a lump in my throat I won’t lie.’

Another said, “My folks owned a shop in the center, and I grew up a lot there, so let me tell you.. I made it. Like time travel.”


Dundalk’s Old Shopping Center Created with AI

“Great job – the old mall! Very impressive looking at those pictures we had a circuit on Saturday around the mall…”

Others traveled from further afield.

“It brings me back. We used to travel from Warrenpoint to visit my uncle in Dundalk, and we often made stops here,” one man said while another said ‘We Dublin boys go there too – on school tours if you don’t mind – with a quick layover look at Ras Oliver Plunkett in Drogheda – Weird or what!


Dundalk’s Old Shopping Center Created with AI

“I’ve always been interested in art, technology and where these two meet,” says Paul, who grew up on Mount Avenue.

I manage to spend a lot of time in the shopping center and have very good memories when I was young. The first movie I saw was ET in the cinema there – I’ll never forget that.”

Using the tools of the Midjourney Al program, Paul says he fed the information into the program until he started creating the images he had in mind.


Dundalk man Paul McClean used AI software to recreate the city’s famous old shopping mall

“It was all in my head and I remembered shops like Top Drawer, the record store Slipped Disc and the fruit and vegetable store downstairs.”

“I do a lot of photography, so I used techniques like depth of field, perspective, and lighting to get that ’80s nostalgia feeling.”

“The appearance in the photographs was largely based on film styles, especially directors such as Panos Cosmatos, Nicholas Winding Refn and David Cronenberg,” he says.

The result was a slightly grotesque “Stranger Things” look but resonated with all those who worked, shopped, or simply stopped at what will forever be known as the “Old Shopping Mall”.

“People are very nostalgic for the old shopping mall. They remember getting records in a sliding disk, waiting to see the stationery items going into the top drawer, or going to gigs in Ashley Arms or Bass.”

Paul asks all those who enjoy his picture to make a donation to Dundalk Women’s Aid.

It would also be interesting to see old photos of the shopping center so he can build on his project and if anyone would like to share it with him they can do so by email theoldshoppingcentre@gmail.com.