Maris Cheese Shop – Mari Hussey Murphy opened her shop nearly thirty years ago and has played a part in the rich history of the Milk Market. Pictured above with musician and theatre practitioner Ann Blake. Picture: Richard Lynch/ilovelimerick
Queen of the Milk Market retires from Maris Cheese Shop after decades of business
By I Love Limerick Correspondent Tara Byrne
Maris Cheese Shop (Green Acres), one of the longest established businesses in the Milk Market has been sold by owner Mari Hussey Murphy, marking the end of an era. Owned and run by Mari for almost three decades, her shop was a hive of activity for her many loyal customers on market days.
Mari originally came to Limerick from Kilkenny as an orphan and she says that Limerick adopted her. She worked in several places in Limerick and then started the cheese shop in the Limerick Milk Market almost 30 years ago. At the time there was no roof on the market and it was a time where there were turkeys being plucked for Christmas, it was very rural. She would say that she’s been there since the feathers flying around the place to the cappuccinos and the macchiatos of today. She has seen the whole transformation of the place over that time. Her good friend Nadine Buttery said, “She has been the queen of the market. Queen Victoria gifted that market to the people of Limerick and how the market actually still happens still runs under the Queen Victoria Charter. That market is steeped in history.”
Mari sold coffee, bread, cheese, olives and cakes with her own unique and delicious flair. Having hosted numerous gigs, exhibitions, readings and a vibrant atmosphere, Maris Cheese Shop has always been a destination for artists and art lovers alike as well as those who enjoy good food. All cheese lovers of Limerick were well catered for with a range of 95 different varieties including all kinds of cow’s, goat’s, sheep’s and even buffalo cheese available. Nadine said, “Mari is the master of cheese. She had hundreds of different kinds of cheese there, she knows her cheeses from one end of the planet to the other. She has cheeses from all over the world. Nobody knows more about cheese than Mari.”
Mari played a massive part in how the market moved and changed. Nadine said, “She is a very exceptional character and I know I’m a really good friend of hers but, I knew her as Mari the cheese lady before I knew her as a friend. What Mari did was she didn’t just open a shop, she wasn’t just selling cheese and coffee, what she did is she created an exceptional community of exceptional people around her.”
Mari brought together the huge community of hearts and minds of Limerick City. When musicians came to town, they would all make sure to drop into Maris Cheese Shop on a Saturday afternoon. Mari was painter Brian McMahon’s agent and you could find his paintings on the wall of her shop. Nadine said, “People would give their left arm for a Brian McMahon painting and to find them in this little cheese shop in the Milk Market was incredible.”
Nadine added, “Mari’s Cheese Shop is far beyond a cheese or a coffee shop, it’s a community, it’s an art hub, a cultural hub. It is very unique and very defined and she created that.”
Nadine mentions Queen Victoria, saying, “ Mari always said, “I always thought Queen Victoria would like what I was doing.” I would go even further and I would say she has been the Queen of the market for the last 30 years.”
Congratulations to Mari’s Cheese & Coffee Shop on her last day in business after 28 years in business @milk_market !! What a legend! #lovelimerick #ilovelimerick #limerick #limerickedgeembrace #limerickandproud #limerickcity pic.twitter.com/J6xeF4i0LX
— #LimerickTilliDie (@ilovelimerick) May 1, 2021
Mammy of the Milk Market, she supported and nurtured all the other traders in the Milk Market. People would arrive along with dreams of starting small businesses and she would always encourage them to take the leap, lending them a table and support. Mari’s Cheese Shop hit the market via Chesser Auctioneers, Estate Agents & Valuers for the value of €150,000.
The property’s listing on property.ie states, “For sale by private treaty. We are delighted to welcome to the market this gem of a property. Green Acres Cheese and Coffee shop is an institution for Milk Market fans near and far and is one of the longest-serving coffee shops for over 31 years. Such beautiful features include original stone walls, a large bright arched door and a wine license. This particular unit allows trading on both sides of the market with outside seating and is one of the best locations in the market.”
Irish Musician and long-time friend of Mari’s Mickey Dunne and his family all came to the Milk Market for Mari’s final time closing her shop and played music for everyone there. Everyone wore their masks, listening to the music and having a cup of coffee on the streets.
Nadine added, “It was magic because everyone was so used to being isolated for the year, and there was this moment
of being able to look at each other with Mickey Dunne playing in the background, it was super special.”
Mari marked the occasion by commissioning her friend, musician and theatre-maker Ann Blake, to record a version of one of her favourite Leonard Cohen songs, ‘Passing Through.’ Ann said, “Mari had wanted to mark the end of her time in the shop and it’s really hard to do that with the pandemic. So, she asked me to record ‘Passing Through’ by Leonard Cohen because she felt it had a lot of the spirit of having the shop. It reminds people of passing through the shop but also the nature of life. She sent me lots of photographs and I recorded the song and I put the photographs from her childhood up to her present-day together. It was just a way to commemorate her and capture her time in a way through something cultural.”
Mari’s hope is that the community she has created over the last thirty years will continue to be nurtured and supported and that the Milk Market will remain a hub where people can come together.
Mari can now be found ruling the Shannon on her beautiful sailing boat. Nadine said, “she has become quite proficient in bombing it up and down the estuary and dropping into little ports here and there, having the craic and taking friends out on boat trips.”
Mari said you will find her in another little spot, looking at the water, doing teas and coffee and music and art and being Mari somewhere else along the line.
For more stories on the Milk Market go HERE
For more information about the Milk Market go HERE