Launching the plans: David Fitzgerald, Maria Harper, Liam Flannery and Cllr Jerry O'Dea | Picture: Adrian Butler
EXCITING new plans to develop the Milk Market could see the facility open longer hours, more days, and for corporate clients.
The Limerick Leader can this week reveal that management at the Mungret Street venue are to tender for a strategic review of its operations, and a “renewed business plan for growing the market’s national and international reputation”.
The Milk Market is planning a three pronged approach to growing the facility, seeking to expand its potential in food and tourism development, community and evening entertainment events and business offerings.
“Ten thousand people on average come to the Milk Market on a Saturday. It’s a beloved part of Limerick’s history and a weekly ritual. Going to the Milk Market is part of Limerick culture. It’s like going to Thomond Park and the Gaelic Grounds. It’s a special thing to do in Limerick, so we want to preserve all that is good about it, keep its core character but also grow it as well,” said Liam Flannery, the new chairman of the Market Trustees.
A company will be sought to carry out the review in the coming weeks, with former chairman, Cllr Jerry O’Dea saying the five-to-10 year blueprint – which has a multi-million euro investment – is aimed at taking the facility “to the next level”, now its finances are secured.
Milk Market general manager David Fitzgerald said: “In terms of growth, we would love to see the Saturday market extended to later opening hours. That will involve research and bringing groups together in stakeholder workshops. In the long term, we would love to be open in the evening, but in the interim, maybe 4pm or 5pm on a Saturday, as opposed to finishing at 3pm. But we would love to involve the people of Limerick to gauge the demand there.”
Another part of their hopes is to invest in the upstairs part of the market “to make it a more hospitable, cleaner, more comfortable space,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
It’s also hoped to expand the Market offering out to companies in Limerick, and make it the “go-to” place for events, he added.
“We would like to increase the venue options we have so there are more functions and events held here. We would also like to invite more stakeholders to the city to use this, to leverage this space a bit more – including Limerick Council, including the third level institutions, including the business community, to look at it as the arts community hub that it is, but also for project launches and companies doing workshops,” the general manager said.
Former chairman, Cllr O’Dea said in recent years, the Milk Market has sailed into calmer financial waters.
“When I came in as chairman four years ago, it was a case of steadying the ship. The finances were not strong, even though there was cash coming in, finances were precarious. We were dependent on the Potato Market for revenue. It was a case of making the Milk Market as self-sufficient as possible,” he explained.