Nenagh Country Market marked its 50th birthday last Friday with founding members, stallholders and users gathering in the New Institute for a celebratory party.
The market has literally grown over the five decades, having started as a small venture in the Church of Ireland hall, Pearse Street, before moving to Dun Mhuire and finally to the New Institute on Friar Street in 1990 to accommodate its ever expanding range of produce.
The market sells home produced items, including vegetables, flowers, free-range eggs, cakes, jams, poultry meat and crafts from a wide radius around Nenagh covering Terryglass, Borrisokane, Ardcroney, Ballinaclough and Puckaun, as well as Nenagh and its environs.
“We had to move because our range of produce kept increasing,” said Betty Gleeson, who supplies vegetables. “We have eight active members and other seasonal stallholders. We are going strong and have our regular customers.”
There was a massive turn-out at Friday’s birthday party, with tea and buns supplied by the market stallholders, and Betty was delighted with the “great buzz” that was around the hall.
“It keeps you busy. It is a labour of love and not a business, a great social outlet,” said Betty, who pointed out that the original markets gave great independence to farmers’ wives by giving them their own “few bob”.
Among those attending were founder members Maisie Moran, Ballinaclough; Elsie Sage, Ballina, and Breda Cahalan.
Special guest Junior Minister for Agriculture Tom Hayes praised local businessman and food guru Peter Ward of Country Choice for his dedication to promoting local food produce. He thanked Mr Ward for his voluntary contributions to the Department and Bord Bia and said he was held in high esteem by both agencies.
“I’m sure Commander Reilly-Minchin, who founded this market, would be pleased to see his legacy still operating and being an integral part of the local community,” said Deputy Hayes
The Junior Minister said that food and agriculture were driving community solidarity and sustainable growth and small food businesses, in particular, were contributing to Ireland’s recovery and hopes of future prosperity.
“Local food is now seen as food that is not mass-produced. It is about small-scale production and handmade produce. In the present climate, people want to support locally produced goods. Make it easy for them to do this,” he urged.
Nenagh Country Market is a source of quality locally produced food. It also provides a weekly opportunity for people to meet in a social setting and to take pride in local skills and local food, he said.
Meanwhile, Betty Gleeson revealed that the market would soon be getting ready for the Christmas rush, with orders being placed for free-range turkeys and ducks as well as Christmas cakes and traditional wreaths.
Nenagh Country market operates every Friday in Friar Street from 7.45am.