The absolute best thing about travelling is getting the opportunity to visit Farmer’s markets world wide. Ireland is well known for its markets and the vast network of Food Tours and Trails. Food networks, markets and Irish cuisine have been in the news for a long time now and the establishment of farmer’s markets a long tradition in the country and the Limerick Milk Market is no exception.
Cashel Blue cheese, Guinness, Jameson’s Irish Whiskey, Kerrygold butter, Tayto’s crisps and Bailey’s Irish Cream making up a few of the most well known names outside of the country. However, inside Ireland there are food treasures galore. Ireland has a long history of producing some of the world’s finest pork, beef, seafoods and specialty items like blood sausage, smoked fish, fresh trout & salmon, to rashers and gammon. Ireland is home to fertile valleys and farms producing potatoes from pink to yellow, and all manner of veggies from beetroot to turnip. A farmer’s market here is a display of the best there is to offer from seafood to handmade crafts. As in many countries Ireland is working to emphasize buying local, buying fresh and supporting small producers and the Milk Market is the epitome of that ethos.
The Limerick Milk Market was originally known as the Corn Market and was located in Limerick City. Along with the Milk Market there was the Pig Market, the Butter Market and the Hay Market and Potato Market. In the 1850’s most of the other markets relocated but the Potato Market and the Corn Market (the Milk Market) stayed. However in 1858 the Market Trustees went into receivership and Limerick Corporation was appointed the Trustees of the Market. This went on for over 90 years and the receivership wasn’t terminated until 1988.
Today the Corn Market is thriving right in the very heart of Limerick. Over the years the nature of trading did begin to change but there was always a good trade in chickens, fowl, homemade butter, breads and pastries. In the 1950’s plants and shrubs became popular as did the Christmas Market for turkeys and the market continued to expand upon these initial offerings.
In 1995 the Trustees identified a need to make over the Milk Market and they began an incredibly ambitious reconstruction. In 1995 the Market was re-opened and it won a European Heritage Award in September of 1995. In 2004 the Trustees determined that significant new work should be done on the Market and they worked tirelessly to make it one of the finest Markets in Ireland.
In June of 2010 the new Milk Market re-opened as an all year round market space, with major markets taking place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. There is a new pavilion with an eating space on the upper deck and the Market is now an all weather space for events and vendors.
The objectives of the Milk Market are:
- to provide Limerick residents and visitors with access to a wide variety of fresh, local, in-season products, typically directly from the producer.
- to provide a centralised location for local producers (food and non-food produce), who work to agreed standards, to profitably market their produce directly to the buying public.
- to enhance the centre of Limerick’s retail and commercial district.
- to create an informal, social gathering and trading space in an open air setting that can be enjoyed by Limerick residents, visitors and by the local business community.
- to attract shoppers by presenting a calendar of themed market days, activities and events that constantly appeals and surprises and showcases popular products, often unearthing and supporting new products and talents.
- to project the Milk Market, as the historic market it is, to locals and visitors.
- to champion the environmental concept of ‘green’ in the city.
- to have a positive influence on the physical space around the market, including the retailers and any casual trading close-by.
- to champion the concept of ‘fresh’, ‘local’ and ‘in season’ produce generally, encouraging restaurants and other food outlets throughout the City to embrace the concept. In this way, the Milk Market will have a positive influence on Limerick’s
- Development as a centre of food excellence (in all its facets from restaurants to production).