‘Free Market’ is an architecture exhibition and ongoing research project that explores the importance and possible future of small market towns in Ireland. This summer ‘Free Market’ will visit four towns across Ireland, organising public events, collecting stories and sharing ideas as we travel.

Why this matters

For generations, small town market places played a vital role in the life of rural communities. The market square was an economic and social hub. Today many of Ireland’s market squares are used for car parking and their role as a place for exchange and congregation is diminished. How we shop has changed. But it is still vital that our towns have beautiful public spaces to host social, political and cultural exchange, community debate, banter and incidental interactions.

What to expect

You are invited to take part in walking tours, a scavenger hunt, vox pop recordings, discussions and public lectures and take home a copy of our newspaper, ‘Free Market News’. The exhibition includes architectural models, drawings, maps, photographs and sound recordings. Free Market, was Ireland’s national representation at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, in 2018. The exhibition won widespread acclaim for its exploration of the unique identity of Irish rural towns. Now this ambitious exhibition travels to four towns in Ireland.


Free Market News is a free tabloid format newspaper that accompanies the exhibition. With almost 40 short articles and contributions from leading Irish and international architectural historians, researchers, geographers, poets, writers and thinkers, it aims to capture a snapshot of thinking around the subject of rural towns today. Selected articles include the following:

Selected Articles

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Ireland at Venice is a Government initiative led by Culture Ireland in partnership with the Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon

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