Posts Tagged ‘farmers markets’

The debate about Clonakilty Market continues on C103, but unfortunately only the pro side is being represented. Other than Cionnaith O Suilleabhain, the councillors have stayed off the airwaves. In the interests of presenting the other side of the argument I was glad to receive a copy of Peter Walsh’s letter to the local business community:

3 Pearse St




Dear Business Owner/Rate Payer

I feel compelled, as a Town Councillor and Town Centre trader, to issue a statement on The “Proposed Clonakilty Market” which is to be located in Kent St. Car Park and feel it necessary to point out my concerns and reservations about the threat it poses to businesses in Clonakilty Town Centre.

I wish to point out a few facts:

  • This is not a “farmers market”, in fact the main pro-poser markets “olives” and is using some local intersted parties to front this market when in fact, most of the marketers are not from the locality.
  • The proposed site being used is taking invaluable parking/access away from your business which you pay rates each year to maintain, and, on the busiest day of the week when it is most needed.
  • Although you may feel that it may not pose competition to your business directly, the precedent set today may encourage otheres to set up in the future.
  • The “Market” is in direct conflict with the by-laws of Clonakilty Town Council
  • Each and every Year!, when you pay your rent, rates, repak, refuse, water-in/water-out (and waster water license!!) energy bills, imro/ppi or whether its Christmas lights, summer flowers, community donations, remember who (and who does not!) pay the bills.
  • This market undermines the rate collection capacity of Clonakilty Town Council and threatens the capacity of the council to pay for essential projects. i.e. footpath upgrades, playground, housing etc…
  • This market poses a Health & Safety Issue to pedestrians and users of the Car Park. There has been no consultation with Clonakilty Town Council or the Gardai to this point.
  • Anyone who tells you that this Market will bring business to town is misleading you! People come to Clonakilty Town Cente to avail of essential services, some of which are provided 6/7 days a week by you and others and often at unsociable hours. TO undermine these services is to undermine the survival of the Town Centre.

Thank you for the opportunity to express my opinions on this matter and I wish you every success. If I can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to call me.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Walsh (#phone number#)

If anyone would like to add their views here by way of support or challenge, please feel free to post a comment.

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A new Clonakilty Market is due to be launched this Friday but it seems that not everyone is happy about the proposed location.

The first I heard about the new market was this message from Giana Ferguson:

YOU ARE WARMLY INVITED TO THE LAUNCH OF CLONAKILTY MARKET BY DARINA ALLEN On Friday 8th August 2008 –  at 12.30 in Spiller’s Lane Car Park (by The Credit Union)

The Friends of Clonakilty Market have arranged for you a list of some of the very finest Local and Seasonal foods: 
Organic Vegetables, Fresh Fish, Locally Baked Breads, Gluten free or traditional,
Rashers and sausages, Olives, dips, sun-dried tomatoes, jams, chutneys, sushi
Farmhouse Cheeses, freshly brewed coffee and lemon juice… and much more….
(Trader’s 7.30 – Market begins from 8.30 – OFFICIAL OPENING AT 12.30)
Gik on 087 6775600 or 023 58800
Now it seems that the town council has not approved the use of this location and instead suggested moving to the car park by the Community School (they were offered 6 parking spaces). I think most people would agree that this would be a step down. The original market on Thursday has been taking place in the courtyard of O’Donovans Hotel for the last 2 years which is just over the wall from the proposed Spillers Lane location. It has definitely fallen a long way from the dizzy heights in reached in 2004/05 before Mahon Point market opened and personal conflicts came to a head. At that time it was located on McCurtain Hill. The original Clonakilty Farmers Market has been a great launching pad for quite a number of local producers and in my view has great potential to benefit the town as well. I’m surprised at local business traders objecting, I thought that this whole argument about the benefits of market to towns had been won. Furthermore the market stallholders have agreed to pay a licence fee of €10/day to the town council, which more than covers their contribution in rates.
Anyway, it sounds like Friday is going to be interesting as the market group appears intent on going ahead with setting up at Spillers Lane car park and invoking trading rights from 1613AD. Please come along if you want to support the market and lets try to get it off to a fresh start.
Correction 07/08/08:
I had previously thought this was a relaunch of the original Clonakilty Farmers Market, but in fact this is a new market. My apologies to the traders involved in the Thursday Clonakilty Farmers Market for giving the wrong impression. The Thursday Farmers Market will continue to operate in O’Donovans courtyard.

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Richard and Jane Graham-Leigh

Richard and Jane Graham-Leigh

West Cork

‘s enviable reputation for food is often traced back to pioneering producers that set up here in the late 70s/early 80s. These businesses are still going strong but in the meantime many more have joined them – often with a very different proposition. The success of the first generation was based on selling outside West Cork, in cities where their products found a critical mass of people with money and “sophisticated palates”. At the same time we have had food businesses in West Cork that catered for a more local market. A typical example is the small confectionary bakeries producing traditional buns, cakes, scones and soda breads. They compete on freshness and service. Many have developed from home baking operations and simply scaled up to offer local shoppers a taste of home.  For all its merits, however, it’s fair to say that this baking is not fancy and does not rely on developed palates. RGL Patisserie in Dunmanway, run by Richard and Jane Graham Leigh, is not one of these. True, they have also built a business that is based on a local market. But this is business that wouldn’t have been sustainable before now and their success is an encouraging sign for the culture of food in West Cork.


RGL Patisserie has been described by Darina Allen as “the best bought confectionary you are ever likely to find”. Richard and Jane produce classical French patisserie and biscuits using the finest ingredients, like couverture chocolate and free range eggs. Everything is made from scratch, there are no shortcuts. Richard told me that the critical ingredient that sets them apart is butter, which apart from adding an additional cost is also demanding to work with. Butter pastry doesn’t tolerate being warmed up or it will crumble, so it can only be worked by hand. This is time consuming and the skill level required makes it difficult to scale up easily. But it is worth it – “What we do is a blend of physics, chemistry and art,” says Richard, “fat is flavour, we have to whisper that but it’s true, butter melts at 15˚C degrees, which means an almost instant flavour release when you bit into it, literally melt in the mouth”.


Like with many others Richard and Jane were drawn to West Cork for lifestyle reasons. They left London in 1998 where Richard had been working as a chef entertaining clients for a posh firm of solicitors. They love West Cork, particularly their home in hills above Dunmanway but admit to being busier than they intended to be. They started the business in 2002 – “Like a lot of the people we know, the farmers market in Clonakilty was what made it possible for us.” says Jane, “We saw the start up notice looking for producers. Richard started baking in our own kitchen and I took it to the market to try it out. That is how we found out what worked and we also learned that people needed to be encouraged to try things out if they were going to pay the extra price. We don’t produce specifically for an Irish palate and I’m not sure that there is such a thing anyway. People’s tastes change all the time and with experience and exposure they become better able to detect the differences between foods. The market was brilliant for that because we could talk to people and if they liked pear and almond tart, for example, because they’d had it before, then we could suggest one with berries. Our biggest customer is Urru in Bandon and Mallow, they are very good at encouraging people to try new things and educating their customers about taste. When we first arrived I don’t think that there would have been enough demand for what we do, but the markets, fine food shops and restaurants are changing the appreciation of food.”


RGL Patisserie cakes and biscuits are probably not for everyday, they are a rewarding treat or a special occasion indulgence. However, that West Cork can sustain a fine confectionary business like this, which has plans for further growth, sends out a very positive message about our food culture.

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