Afew blocks off the River Shannon and several centuries out of step with nearby King John’s Castle, a big white tent stands tall and proud in the heart of Limerick. The Milk Market, open most Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout the year offers visitors a broad selection of fresh local and regional produce, meats, cheeses, breads, condiments, and prepared foods, as well as live music, arts, crafts, and a few other surprises.
While most of the action is under the big top, at Limerick’s Milk Market, it’s hard not to get caught up in the local market glow as you pass the few vendors set up on nearby side streets, and just outside the tent itself. Then, with the sound of live music wafting gently up the street, and shoppers passing with arms laden and bags full, the draw into the tent is positively infectious.
Ducking through the entrance, you’re hit with a brightly lit (by natural sunlight filtering through the tent) quasi-indoor market, which is a blessing in Ireland’s year-round often poxy weather. About half a dozen rows with generous aisles make up the core of the food stalls, with more shops and vendors in semi-permanent spaces around the edges of the tent. Overall, there are about 50 vendors, from local farmers, and well-known Irish craft purveyors such as the Real Olive Company, Lisduff Handcrafted Meats, and the Flying Cheese Brigade.
While there I bought excellent bread, cheese, pork, fish, and sampled much more. I also procured a giant clutch of lavender.
By its nature, and because it’s in Limerick (a very laid back place), this is not a frenzied, bustling market. It’s got a very homey, weekend feel, as if most of the shoppers are locals greeting friends and neighbors as they all stock up for the week ahead.
As a result, both the vendors and their clientele tend to be very chatty and friendly. And they’ll often steer you to other vendors if they don’t have what you’re looking for or have strong opinions about certain products.
“Oh, try Saemus down the end of the row there. Sure now, he’s got the best…..
So, if you’re passing through the West of Ireland, on or around a weekend, and are in need of provisions, or just have a hankering for good vittles, plan to stop for an hour or two at the Milk Market in the heart of Limerick City. You’ll be well fed, and looked after.
Text and photos by Glenn D. Kaufmann
The Milk Market
(between Cornmarket Row, Ellen St., Carr St., and Mungret St.)
Fri: 10:00am – 3:00pm
Sat: 8:00am – 3:00pm
Sun: 11:00am – 3:00pm
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1. Personal Interviews and experiences