We are fortunate to have two excellent farmers’ markets on our doorstep: the Bantry Market on Fridays and the Skibbereen Market on Saturdays. We go, just to wander, not really needing anything – but we always emerge with a bag full. We love to buy carrots and parsnips covered in this morning’s earth, and scrub them up under the outside tap back at Ard Glas. The fish stall ladies will fillet a whole fish for you in a trice, and give you hints on the best way to cook it. The numerous homemade bread and cake stalls have started to load up their tables with mince pies and Christmas puddings. A new stall, West Cork Pies, sells the world’s yummiest Steak in Murphy’s Pie (Murphy’s is the Cork Guinness), Chicken and Leek Pie, and a variety of pasties. I am putting in an order for Christmas, to take up to Dublin. Our lunch often consists of cheese from the Bantry cheese stall, with Courgette and Ginger Chutney picked up in Skibb, and (I know I shouldn’t) a slice of chocolate biscuit cake from one of the baking stalls.
I love to chat to the stall owners and ask about their produce. Trouble is, it’s hard to walk away without buying something, so now I have two packets of nutritious seaweed from the charming seaweed man, and I’m not quite sure what to do with them. Fortunately, Robert rescued me after a long conversation with the wood carver before I felt I had to buy a headboard.
At Bantry there’s even a Fight for Irish Freedom stall, selling books and images and with rebel music blaring out from speakers. I stop here to wonder what all the English people who call West Cork home make of it all. We move on to the chickens, the colourful kilims, oh…and there’s the guy with the lovely French soap!