Markets remain an integral part of Dublin culture. In archival footage of the city, the lives of Dubliners seem to be embodied by the clamour and bustling of our vibrant market spaces, much like at Christmas, when the festivities are marked with the Henry Street stalls. There’s no need to wait for the winter, though. There are great markets this spring in Dublin to keep up the old-time tradition of having a good gander. I spent some time on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Reading Week doing just that.
“This market was very small, just the little room in the back of Fegans… it’s a good spot to have a look at if you wish to invest in some Irish artist’s work.”
On Thursday evening from 6pm, Fegans 1924 Cafe on Chancery Street shifts from a comfy daylight spot into its own mini event. Fegans Night Market claims to be the biggest fully student-run market in Dublin, and it has lots going for it. The atmosphere is not quite your traditional Dublin street stalls, with a DJ keeping the vibe up alongside some good old LED lighting. As I walked in, I first noticed the art stall to my left, then the person getting tattooed to my right. Yes, as well as browsing some cool art and self-made jewellery, those who fancy can even get tattooed before a browse at the vintage clothes stall. This market was very small, just the little room in the back of Fegans, so it’s not one for wandering all day. It is, however, a good spot to check out if you wish to invest in some Irish artists’ work. The added bonus was the café still being open and sitting down for a cup of tea with the friend I dragged along with me. She noted from the crowd that it seemed like a popular NCAD [National College of Art and Design] spot, but I think your average arts block market enthusiast would get something out of a trip! They also serve alcohol, and the night market is open on Saturday, if you are looking for a very artsy/supporting the arts prinks idea.
Friday was Liberty Market. This is an enduring piece of the old-style Dublin that you are still able to amble through today. A large banner marking Dublin’s Famous Liberty Market emerges past Meath Street, and past a lovely flower stall. I passed a stand with a jumble of tarot cards and crystals, a modern addition to this traditional market layout. Next was a towering wall of cards, leading you down to a labyrinth of indoor stalls. There really is a bit of everything here, with no exact order to how it is laid out. You make one turn and meet a jewellery stall, another and it’s shoes. Then lights, baby clothes and band t-shirts you might have thought to go looking in Temple Bar for. This is definitely a market to check out if you are unsure what you’re looking for, as with such a variety of things available there should be something for everyone.
“The most surprising stall was a minimal waste grocery one, with eco-friendly products such as bamboo toothbrushes and natural toothpaste on offer.”
On Saturday afternoon I took a bus out to visit the Red Stables Food Market in St Anne’s Park, Clontarf. The 130 bus will leave you right at the park entrance, and if you fancy a market to make a day out of, this is the one to pick. There are rows of tents set up around the top of the avenue, so I would recommend not following my lead and pick a day where you are less likely to get pelted down with rain. Before the showers the atmosphere was lovely. The most surprising stall was a minimal waste grocery one, with eco-friendly products such as bamboo toothbrushes and natural toothpaste on offer. It was the kind of setup I hadn’t seen in Ireland before, and with the market on every Saturday it provides a great resource for those looking to go plastic free. There were some options for the natural beauty inclined too, with lavender and seaweed products, each having their own dedicated stall. As the market’s name suggests, there is a great selection of food available, including vegan and vegetarian options. There are also stalls of fruit and vegetables, and even some homemade cider. After you’ve picked your food of choice, you can browse Irish owned art, oil, candles, photography and even some outfits for your dog. With plenty of space to sit or walk around before, during or after your shopping St Anne’s is a good option for a day out, and hopefully you get the weather for it.
“Liberty Market felt like wandering through a bit of old-fashioned Dublin”
These markets were just three I happened to visit over the course of three days, but they are a great place to start. I got something different out of each of them. Fegans was a definite shout for scavenging a good present to buy from an Irish artist, and I loved that you could have a cup or tea or something stronger – depending on what you were looking for. Liberty Market felt like wandering through a bit of old-fashioned Dublin, and in a time where so many cultural landmarks of the city are threatened, it is a nice experience to have. And lastly, despite the rain, St Anne’s was a lovely experience, with so much on offer and with many small Irish businesses to support.