Denis Healy is the Patriarch of organic vegetables in Ireland. A Founder stallholder at The Temple Bar Market and at The Macreddin Market, Denis has being providing superb chemical free vegetables since 1847 Indeed The Strawberry Tree could not survive without him. Denis is infectious and contagious and if you haven’t met him, you have to!
Jenny Young runs 170 organic acres at CastleFarm over the hills in Kildare with her partner Peter. They produce, well, just about everything organically…and produce it well. Not content with working 168 hours a week, they still find time to set up stall at Macreddin Market…they understand their innate need to trade and barter and banter and we understand them.
Eugene Giblin is our Backstage Man. Eugene’s team makes sure that the Hotel runs smoothly when it comes to all things maintenance related. And come every Market Day, our Backstage Man and his team provide the tabling, umbrellas, electricity connections and all the help that The Macreddin Market stallholders require…and much, much more
Its something that we really don’t notice as we drive through our towns and villages…its just there! It has to be the most commonplace name in Ireland and it’s so familiar, that we take it for granted. There isn’t a town or perhaps a village in Ireland that doesn’t have an area titled, Market Street, Market Square or The Fair Green. Irish Fairs date right back to our Pagan Gods, specifically Lugh (or more so his mum who died of exhaustion after clearing the hills and vales of Ireland for agriculture) and it seems they have been doing a pretty good job in providing us with harvest for our Markets ever since. Indeed The Lughnasadh and The Auld Lammas Fairs were always the biggest Harvest Markets offering the opportunity to barter or exchange an individual’s harvest for the staple and occasionally the exotic.
And so from the Middle Ages to the present day, fairs and markets have brought together people and played an important part in shaping local society. Town met country, farmer met trader and the influences of the wider world were introduced into the local culture. The unmistakably Irish buzz and banter of the traditional fair has passed down through generations, leading to the modern farmers’ markets we see today.
Way back in our black and white days, when The Strawberry Tree was based in Killarney, we committed our energies to promoting ‘the fresh’, ‘the local’’, and ‘the seasonal’ – and what better way to showcase this than a traditional marketplace? Today we’re happily settled amongst the rolling Wicklow hills, and our Macreddin Market (now, one of Irelands longest running) is held on the first Sunday of every month. It celebrates our Irish ‘Growing Season’ and so begins in April, building gradually towards our own Harvest Festival, where we celebrate the finest autumn fare before we wind down in October. We’re still the only market in Ireland with ‘no charge’ to stallholders, and every single stall attending is wholly devoted to food and nothing else.
We like our Market Days! Because these are ‘Sunday’ Markets, so they’re more tasting, grazing and indulging, than mere shopping. We also like the ‘laid back’ afternoon jazz, the lazy beers in the apple orchard, and the goodly amount of sunshine that we seem to get, and that never goes unnoticed…no doubt provided by Lugh or his mum.
So if you find yourself liking this too, well then, we’ll see you on the first Sunday!