By Sam Dunleavey
There is something unique and special about public markets. People worldwide can’t resist a good nosey around the open air market.
And Kilkenny is no different. A bustling city with three different markets open each weekend, including a Christmas one at the parade in the city centre.
My journey to Kilkenny was twofold. As part of my thesis which I am undertaking at Limerick University, I am travelling around Ireland interviewing various traders at these markets.
And so it was on last Saturday morning I made my way to the Cillin Hill market on the outskirts of Kilkenny city.
I also travelled to Kilkenny to meet local artist John Walsh. John was commissioned by a fellow student of mine from Kilkenny to do a drawing of my great grandfather and grandmother.
A story I hope to return to another day when the commission is complete.
John has a stand at the market at Cillin Hill and although it was my first time to meet him, he couldn’t have been kinder and showed me around the Cillin Hill complex, introducing me to many of the traders, allowing me to gather plenty of material for my college course.
Public markets are as old as civilization. For millennia, cities have shaped and been shaped by public market activity. But what does it mean to be a public market in the twenty-first century?
The term “public market” covers all types of markets, including open-air markets, covered markets, permanent market halls, market districts, and even informal markets of street vendors. Public markets can be temporary and seasonal or permanent and in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Depending on the type of public market, vendors may sell fresh and prepared food or non-food items, such as household goods, crafts, and antiques.
However, public markets are not just places of commerce. What sets public markets aside from other retail locations is that they operate in public space, serve locally owned & operated businesses, and have public goals.
This focus on the public good is what makes successful markets grow and connect urban and rural economies. They encourage community and economic development by keeping money in the local neighbourhood.
Public markets also offer low-risk business opportunities for vendors, often from vulnerable populations, and depending on the type of public market, they feed money back into the rural economy where farmers grow, raise, and produce their products.
The spin-off benefits of public markets are numerous. From increasing access to fresh, healthy food to providing important revenue streams, markets positively impact local businesses, governments, and residents. But perhaps most importantly, public markets serve as public gathering places for people from different ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic communities—markets are our neighbourhoods’ original civic centres.
Cillin Hill market operates every Saturday from 9 until 2pm and has been established for fifteen years.
They usually have thirty to forty stalls varying from healthy food diners, gymnastics for children and a multitude of other stalls covering everything from A to Z.
The market is community based but also attracts clients from Cork, Clare, Limerick Tipperary, Waterford Carlow and Kildare.
They have a large variety of items for sale including antique and contemporary jewellery, homemade jams and cakes had made cards and jewellery, collectable comics and books, vintage vinyl’s and records. There is also new and second hand clothes and pub memorabilia.
And of course there is the opportunity of gathering some wonderful drawings from artist John Walsh
And given the season that is in it plenty of Christmas wreaths and decorations.
Well worth a visit and a venue I will most definitely be returning to.