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  • Southside

Dublin’s hidden gem: The Liberty Market

Monday, 1st April, 2019 6:00pm
Dublin’s hidden gem: The Liberty Market

Liberty Market proprietor Michael Fitzgerald. All photos: Darren Kinsella

Dublin’s hidden gem: The Liberty Market

Liberty Market proprietor Michael Fitzgerald. All photos: Darren Kinsella

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Gabija Gatavecaite

LOCATED in the heart of Meath Street, the Liberty Market radiates colour and boasts great bargains, while also offering a strong sense of community.

The market is now home to 40 stalls, which are open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

“Everybody comes to me, I’m like the local hairdresser in here. They tell me all their stuff and I tell no-one else,” says Patrick Clare, who sells electronics at the market.

He also sells cups of tea from behind his stall.

“I’m also the tea guy; everybody loves their tea, it’s only a euro for a cup of tea,” he sings as he pours milk and tea and spoonfuls of sugar into paper cups.

He proceeds to scribble initials on top of the lid in black marker and explains that he comes in early every morning and makes the sellers their cups of tea to kickstart the day.

“I know everybody’s tea and how they like it,” he adds.

Like all the other vendors, he prides himself on his prices.

“I try and source things cheaper than most folks and sell them cheaper. My goal is to sell good quality products cheaper than most can, and I manage to do it,” he declares.

“I love working here, it’s great and I have great fun, the folks are fantastic,” he says, as he hands over the two cups to a fellow seller.

He thinks that if more buyers visited the market, it would be worth it for the sheer friendliness of the vendors. 

“The stallholders say hello to everybody, a ‘good morning’ doesn’t cost an awful lot,” he points out.”

The stallholders give the bustling market a sense of life, with most of them having worked here for years.

“It’s a family type of atmosphere,” says Gerry O’Neill, who runs a ladies’ fashions and children’s clothing stall. He has been at the market for over 20 years and operates the stall with his wife, Barbara.

“Some customers have been coming in here here for donkey’s years, but we’re hoping to get the younger generation shopping here too.”

At the very centre of the market, which is designed in a T-shape, is the lighting stall. It is a large, bright and radiant stall, with chandeliers and light fixtures attached to the ceiling.

Tina Mooney runs the stall with her husband.

“We start at between 10am and 10.30am in the morning and you’re here all day,” Tina reveals. “If you’re busy, then you may be here later. Saturday would be the busiest day, but it’s a different crowd on different days.

“It’s lovely and I do enjoy it,” she adds.

The Liberty Market opened in 1973, making it 46 years of age this year. That’s the same length of time that Larry Mooney has been selling wool and knitwear at his stool.

“I won’t pull the wool over your eyes,” he jokes.

“The same people come in nearly every week. We’ve a great community here and we look after one another,” he explains.

Without owner Michael Fitzgerald, the market would not be what it is today. Having set it up almost 50 years ago as a young businessman, the manager and owner remembers how the market “took off like a storm” back in the 1970s.

“Dealers were run off their feet when we first set it up,” he remembers.

He explained that low prices in the market are due to the low cost of rent that the sellers have to pay and this is their only overhead.

“They hire stalls from me but are all self-employed and their only expense is rent, which is very low,” he explains.

The main goal for the market now is to invite the younger generation of shoppers in, while ecommerce continues to post a strong threat.

“Online shopping is a very impersonal experience and there’s no client to customer interaction,” says Mr Fitzgerald. “Our stallholders are all very honest, hard working people.”

Throughout all the years, the single part of the market that has stood out the most - and which remains the same today - are its stallholders.

One trader, Harry Armstrong, was 96-years-old when he passed away and he worked every day until he died. Michael Fitzgerald remembers him fondly.

“He was a real character and he was there from the day we opened,” he recalled.

“His sons have expanded into their own stalls now but his biggest pride was that he was the cheapest and the best.

“He was like a part of the furniture  - we even have a photo of Harry hanging at his old stall.”

Patrick Clare is one of the traders in the Liberty Market. Liberty Market trader Larry Mooney. Market trader Gerry O’Neill.

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