Browsing, shopping, antiques, jewellery, street food and more, there’s a lot to discover in the markets of Dublin’s fair city, and it’s just the thing for a sunny day’s adventure.
Dublin City is a haven for shoppers, with everything from flagship brands to stores that will delight the quirky individualist, but it also has a rich tradition of markets, ripe for exploration.
Dubliners of a particular vintage will whisper in hushed and reverential tones about the Dandelion Market, or Dando, as it was affectionately known. Now just a memory, the Dandelion was where Dubliners went to buy cheesecloth shirts, platforms and flares, while emerging bands vied with the clamour of the stallholders for attention. One of these bands was a (very) young U2.
Dando closed in 1981. You can now do shopping of a more restrained sort on its site, as it was demolished to make way for the Saint Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, to the dismay of its devotees. A much earlier market still thrives however, at the George’s Street Arcade. It was Ireland’s first purpose-built shopping centre when it opened in 1881, and today is one of Europe’s oldest. Discover jewellery, food and drink, clothes and the work of hopeful artists. You can also get your fortune told, and if you get good news, pick up a bunch of flowers too.
On the subject of flowers, the Wholesale Fruit, Vegetable and Flower Market on St Mary’s Lane in Smithfield has been a Dublin institution since the 1880s. You won’t get a dozen roses there, they prefer to sell in greater quantities, but early risers (it opens at 5am) can soak up the sights and scents while browsing this part of Victorian Dublin history. Its redevelopment has been announced many times, and it is currently scheduled to close at the end of this summer, to re-emerge as a “continental-style food market”… Catch it in its original form while you can!
Foodies should head over to Meeting House Square in Dublin’s Temple Bar on a Saturday, where dozens of bakers, artisan makers, organic vegetable growers and street food vendors serve up a walking feast from 10am to 4.30pm. Temple Bar is also home to an open air book market at the plaza on East Essex Street every Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 6pm.
During the week, discover the descendants of Molly Malone on Moore Street, where the street vendors warn you not to touch their fruit, while picking out choice apples for favoured customers. This is a real Dublin experience, in an area where the original citizens now share space with cafés and restaurants set up by the new Irish, who have come here from around the world.
Back in Temple Bar, but further up towards Christchurch, find knickknacks, knits, trinkets and baubles on stalls the length of Cow’s Lane on a Saturday. Grittier finds, plus some hidden gems are there for the browsing on the last Sunday of every month at the legendary Dublin Flea at the Co-op in Newmarket, which is right by the Teeling Distillery, so be sure to work up a thirst.
Find more fleas (though not literally of course) at the Ha’penny Flea, which runs each Saturday from noon to 6pm at The Grand Social, just over the famous Ha’penny Bridge, so named because when it first opened, pedestrians were charged a half penny to cross. It’s totally free now, and you’ll find The Dublin Woollen Mills right next door to the market, which makes it a perfect pitstop, or linger longer for a truly delicious brunch.
On a sunny Sunday, take the Dart out to Howth, for gorgeous views as the little green train takes you round the coastline to this pretty fishing village, where a Farmers Market takes place from 10am to 5pm. Or head south, again on the Dart, to Dun Laoghaire, for the People’s Park Market (get off at Sandycove Station), every Sunday. Feast on treats, then walk it all off along the seafront promenade.