Limerick markets heat up over Christmas competition

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

ONE of the organisers of Limerick Local Heroes has denied that he approached stall-holders in the Milk Market and “poached” them for another fair in the city to be held on the same days.

ONE of the organisers of Limerick Local Heroes has denied that he approached stall-holders in the Milk Market and “poached” them for another fair in the city to be held on the same days.

David O’Brien, manager of the Milk Market, said the creation of a new three-day Christmas artisan fair on Bedford Row this weekend is “unwholesome” as it’s leading to “anxiety and fear” amongst stallholders at Limerick’s Milk Market.

Mr O’Brien said traders in “stricken times” are trying to keep a presence in both stands during the busiest time of the year, “but are doing so out of fear, not out of opportunity.

“It appears to me that there was some attempt to poach traders, from what I’ve been told by the stallholders. This is distracting from something very positive in the heart of the city, and we’ve been doing this for 160 years. We should be working together to promote markets in the city. To turn around and set something up three minutes walk away is just unwholesome. It’s not in the interests of the citizens of the city, that we’re here to serve,” said Mr O’Brien.

But Nigel Dugdale, of Limerick Local Heroes, said the fair is “something positive for the city”, and he has been over-subscribed with offers to take part in the fair.

Mr Dugdale said “word of mouth” spread after his group informed traders at the market in the University of Limerick, which is licensed by Limerick market trustees and has the authority to approve all markets in the city.

“At no point did I go down to the market and approach people. Nobody is not taking a stall in the Milk Market this weekend because of this fair,” said Mr Dugdale.

Some 25 stall-holders will have a place in the fair on Bedford Row, but he said he could have accepted another 15 stalls if space was available. They received a special event license from City Hall to run the event this Friday, Saturday and Sunday for six hours each day, and have been working on the fair for the past two months. While it is called a fair, Mr O’Brien said it’s essentially a market.

One trader, who did not wish to be named, said they feel “a bit compromised” by the situation and is “nervous that the City is trying to take over from the market”, as it is not under their authority, and is run by a private, non-profit enterprise. “I can’t afford to say no to either of them,” they said.

The event on Bedford Row will be held under a covered marquee offering a host of festive gifts, crafts and food.

“The idea behind this fair was to add something new to the vast array of events happening in our city on the weekend leading up to Christmas,” said Mr Dugdale, who described it as a pilot scheme.

Padraic Frawley, representing the Limerick Traders Association, said: “We are starting small this year but we believe that Limerick has fantastic potential for Christmas fairs located in the city centre.”