IN A vaulted old store house tucked away behind thick doors, Newcastle Westâ€™s new artisan market is putting down its roots.
The Red Door Market, in which shoppers can find everything from parsnips to paella, has already become a vibrant addition to the Saturday morning bustle of the county town, despite being open for just a couple of weeks.
Located just off the square in the shell of an old storage building which has stood for generations, the Red Door Market has tapped into a vein of hand-made, local produce from across Limerick, Kerry and further afield.
Anne Marie McCartan from Tournafulla, who doubles up as both the proprietor of the market and the owner of a muffin and cake stand, said that she and the rest of the traders who have set up there have been taken aback by the marketâ€™s instant popularity.
â€œThe first day we opened, all the food stalls ran out of produce by 1pm. These are seasoned stall holders who are used to it, but they were very surprised.
â€œThis is a place where people can expect high quality, locally produced food stuffs and crafts at the right price.
â€œBut itâ€™s about the atmosphere as well. Last week, we had people from all over the county come along. They lingered, went away, and came back again. Itâ€™s a place to meet people.â€
Ms McCartanâ€™s plan to open an artisan market akin to Limerickâ€™s popular Milk Market dates back a number of months, when she floated the idea of putting a few stalls into the Desmond Castle banquet hall.
While that plan was shelved, she was approached by local businessman and chamber of commerce member Ronan Madigan, who suggested the premises at the back of the Bank of Ireland in the square.
Over the years, the property has housed everything from a hardware store to a bric-a-brac shop run by the wife of famed local poet Michael Hartnett. For the past six weeks, it busily under went a face lift which saw it readied to host a new open air market.
The Red Door Market, named after the blocky red doors at its entrance, was due to open at Halloween. However, following the overwhelming success of a trial opening earlier this month, Ms McCartan decided to push the calendar forward a notch.
The market officially opened last Saturday, with a total of fourteen stalls selling everything from free range pork to hand-roasted coffee, all sourced from the local area.
Ms McCartan said that the appetite for locally produced foods has shot up in recent years.
â€œIâ€™ve always been drawn to markets. When I was researching this, I went to markets in Kerry, Limerick and Dublin, and I was always interested in seeing what worked, and figuring out what maybe didnâ€™t work.
â€œThe appetite is there nationally and locally for this kind of thing, a place where people can buy products that are made locally and sold by people the know.
â€œThereâ€™s a social aspect to it thatâ€™s already developed so quickly.â€
Ms McCartan said that she hopes that the market can provide an outlet for budding food and crafts producers across Limerick.
The Red Door Market opens every Saturday from 10am to 3pm.