When artisan preserve-maker Theresa Storey of The Green Apron first set up stall at the Limerick Milk Market, geese were still being killed and plucked to order and there were always piles of feathers in the corners. This was in 1977 and she was there helping her mother, the family’s first “jam lady”, on her stall. Now, more than thirty years later, Theresa’s children regularly work on her own stall and the market itself has been transformed with the recent unveiling of a giant canopy that covers the traders. As someone who regularly gets lost in the surrounding maze of streets, I realised on Saturday that it makes the market much easier to find: as you approach, the canopy – looking for all the world like a circus tent – pokes out over the surrounding buildings and gives you something to aim for.
One of the buildings enclosing the market houses a comfortable meeting room and it was there that we had an Irish Food Bloggers Association get together, hosted by Theresa, last Saturday. After we had been well supplied with coffee and (lots of) caramely apple pecan cake, Theresa talked us through the market history and gave us a virtual tour. Using photos taken by her kids, pre-renovation, we got a real insight into life of the market and details of the stallholders’ antecedents as many of the stalls have been passed on from family members. From Adam the Apple Man (Killowen Orchard) and Cheese Pete (Kilshanny Cheese), Kathleen, the Egg Lady’s niece (Quinn’s Fruit and Vegetables) and Chocolate Trish (Wilde Irish Chocolates), Theresa was full of stories about the stallholders and their wares.
After a walk through the market, with a few purchasing stops, we also explored the food stalls on Ellen Street – they, along with all the stalls in surrounding streets, are regulated by Limerick City Council, while the Limerick Market Trustees looks after the Milk Market stalls. There was time to grab tartiflette from Bon-Appétit Crêperie before we headed upstairs to eat our take-away lunches, drink more coffee – milk from Adare Farm Shop, of course – and listen to Dr Mike Cosgrave talk on building online communities – you can read his explanation of “legitimate peripheral participation” (great term!) on www.MikeCosgrave.com.
While I resisted – this time, at least – a knitting kit for the tin of baked beans you see above, Sunvale Soap Company‘s hand cream and a set of hand-drawn alphabet magnets from Nice Day Designs, I did go home laden down with bags full of Christmas food shopping. Bars of Wilde chocolate, Green Saffron‘s mulled wine spice and jars of Theresa’s Chocolate Raspberry Preserve – which will have to be well hidden as it tends to disappear in rather an untimely fashion at the cottage – are all lined up for stocking stuffing.
A big thank you to Theresa – and Mike – for organising the IFBA Milk Market Meet. It was lovely to meet with old friends (SomeSayCocoa) and new faces (Take One Family), see behind the scenes at the market and also have a great excuse to pick up some early Christmas gifts!