50 years with the Liberty Market: Time has changed 

In the heart of Meath Street, Dublin 8, you’ll find the famous market, The Liberty Market

The Liberty Market opened in 1973, which means the market will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year.

Stall owners of The Liberty Market discussed the trials and tribulations that they have experienced in the years they have owned a stall at the market.

The Liberty Market is open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Photo: Nynne Lehbert

February’s last streaks of sunshine framed the market as people of all ages walk around the narrow corridors, with a constant buzz of people talking and shopping. This is exactly what characterises the Liberty Market – an atmosphere of community. 

Celebrating 50 years is a significant anniversary, and many things have happened and changed throughout the years – confirmed one of the stall owners.

Gerry O’Neill owns a stall in The Liberty Market where he sells ladies fashion items, and he said he’s had had it “for many years”, unsure on how many years he actually owned the stall – he estimated that it has been more than 20 years. 

Gerry O’Neill runs the business with his wife. Photo: Nynne Lehbert

He said time has obviously changed for the physical stores and markets and pointed out that online shopping has had an impact on costumer’s spending patterns.

This is something many of the other stall owners have noticed. Quite simply, most of them said, that they don’t sell or make as much money, as they did years ago.

“Money has become tighter, especially this year, a lot is going on. The war in Ukraine, the price of fuel and… the price of everything. It’s just harder to run a business now,” said Gerry O’Neill.

To answer the question of whether there was a major crises before Covid, he replied:

“Not to the level what we would’ve seen now because I think people have just dropped off in general,” he said.

“Covid was obviously tough for most people in business, but I had my webshop, so I was lucky,” he said and pointed to his stall.

He talked about how times are now and said that Christmas shopping is the one time of the year where stall owners can earn extra money, so they have some carry on to the bad months.

“This is only the start of the year, but I’m sure we will be affected by inflation. We already felt it this Christmas, was a tighter Christmas”, he said and he added that he knows that he has to work harder.

“You can never prepare, but you can just do your best. You just have to work harder for it. You can’t just close everything and go.”

Working hard is exactly what Gerry O’Neill does. If you didn’t know better, you would think he was born a salesman. He is incisive and has a sense of what customers want. You can see that right away, and he likes to chit chat with the customers about various things and knows many of his customers personally.

When he was asked if he could see his stall having a future he replied:

”I can’t tell, I’m taking it month to month. If you have a negative attitude thinking like that, you wouldn’t be in business in the first place. You have to think it on the bright side. In business you can’t think two or three years down the road,” he said.


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