The English Market, Cork City
Beginning with perhaps the most popular market of Ireland, the indoor English Market is like no other. As one of the world’s oldest municipal markets, it’s both recognised as a historical attraction as well as a local civic space; Queen Elizabeth even paid it a visit in 2011.
Especially at the peak trading hours smack in the middle of the day, you’ll find yourself in a bustling hive of activity. Showcasing the best of local produce in fresh meat, vegetables and fruit at age-old family-run stands, its unique atmosphere truly unveil a remarkable slice of Cork life to the wandering traveller.
Explore its interiors, take turns down different lanes and stop by its quaint artisanal bakeries and cafes for a creamy cuppa. Pick up some quirky crafts or vintage clothing while you’re at it.
Of the array of delicious traditional Irish fare offered, must-tries include painstakingly hand-rolled breads from The Alternative Bread Company and Toonsbridge Dairy’s cacio cavallo cheese at The Real Olive Company.
The Milk Market, Limerick
Limerick’s most iconic attraction takes the form of its Milk Market which holds a special place in the hearts of locals and tourists alike.
The origins of this beloved market traces all the way back to 1852 when an act of parliament warranted the consolidation of Limerick’s scattered market scene into what it is today. Saturday is the flagship market day but for a less busy atmosphere, drop by on Fridays or Sundays instead.
Located in the heart of the city, the market is home to vast selections of stalls offering a pot-pourri of finds from local farm produce to vintage fashion hauls to unusual handicraft souvenirs.
Entertainment busking and live music contribute to the flourishing hipster vibe of the market. Country Choice, a specialty food emporium, boasts delightful home-baked bread and its famous hot Angus Beef Ciabiatta sandwiches that are known favourites.
During the festive season, Christmas also brings the market to life as the ‘Ten Days of Christmas’ from 15 to 24 December decks the streets in Christmas crafts, choirs, carols and seasonal eats.
Moore Street Market, Dublin
The very essence of Dublin lies in its vibrant street markets and the most traditional of them, the Moore Street Market, is testimony to that. It is a thriving hub of life in itself, with fruit and vegetable sellers crying out prices and goods in their signature celebrated Moore Street accent.
You’ll be overwhelmed by the overload of sights and sounds that gives the market its distinctive flavour. Vendors line the cobblestoned streets with barrows and wooden crates from which fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers burst forth.
Traditional Irish cuisine jostles for space with other world-famous fare of German and Asian origins. Generous and plentiful bargain opportunities abound if one bothers to engage in the typical light Dublin banter of the sharp-tongued stallowners.
Of the famed Irish butchers, FX Buckley is one of the most renowned, with a Moore Street flagship store selling premium quality meats. Anything else you may need can be found at the German supermarket giant Lidl just off the streets or at the underground Moore Street Mall if you get tired of traipsing the streets.
St. George’s Market, Belfast
It comes as no surprise that the Victorian-esque St. George’s Market was voted 2014’s Best Large Indoor Market and 2016’s Best Market in Observer Food Monthly Awards. Besides its primary market, it hosts a variety of events whether they be food festivals, art exhibitions, fashion shoots or live music entertainment.
Its Friday Variety Market offers an assorted mishmash of goods, from fresh fish and Atlantic shark to artsy antiques, books and clothes. Saturdays lend themselves to the City Food and Craft Market where you’ll find a fusion of tantalising specialty foods (think cheeses, coffee beans and tapas) and handmade works (pottery, glass and crafts).
While visitors on either days can look forward to live music by rising local artistes, the Sunday Market places special emphasis on showcasing local craftspeople and homegrown bands. Notably a blend of the best of both worlds, Sundays at St. George’s offer unmatched arrays of curious novelties you’ll love to bring home for the mantelpiece.
The wildly popular seasonal Twilight Markets are also hosted at St. George’s, featuring pop-up restaurants, groovy live music and cooking demonstrations by award-winning chefs.
Lucky Lane, Limerick
Lucky Lane has cemented its spot in travellers’ Limerick thrift trail – it is probably the hippest little market in the city. Comparatively tinier and cosier, Lucky Lane is a hidden gem you might miss if you weren’t looking out for it.
In a tiny alleyway at the heart of Limerick’s shopping district, it takes the form of scattered lanes lined with anything artistic and quirky. This quietly charming nook has something for everyone here, from wistful old gramophones and vinyl records to vintage garments and handmade wares.
Ollivander’s wands from Harry Potter on sale here certainly add to the magic of the place with the occasional warbling tune of the piano as background music. In short, the indie spirit here is not to be missed.