Monday 9 December 2019

Setting their stall out to offer the best local food

Farmers' markets are the place to find interesting produce, and people, writes Lucinda O'Sullivan

THERE is one thing pretty well guaranteed about farmers' markets, you will always meet a bunch of interesting and colourful people from a cross section of life.

Such was also the case at the farmers' market at Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim. Not a large market by any stretch of the imagination but still very important for the producers and buyers of the area. It is held each Friday morning from 10am until 2pm at the Beepark Community Resource Centre.

Farmers' markets can be a great way to launch a business in these recessionary times. Pot & Kettle Food Company, launched by David Mullan, from Strandhill in Sligo, just over two months ago is a prime example. David is a very experienced chef. He trained in Killybegs in 1998 and in Ballymaloe in 2002, and has worked in London and Dublin. In Dublin he worked in restaurants such as the Mermaid Cafe, Fitzer's, and Shanahan's on the Green. More recently he was head chef at the Waterfront Restaurant at Rosse's Point in Co Sligo.

He gave up his job in November and applied to the Enterprise Board to assist with setting up the Pot & Kettle Food Company. He is producing soups and chowders, all of which are gluten free, with wonderful combinations of ingredients such as potato, chorizo, and baby spinach, or sweet potato and wild rocket, and natural smoked haddock chowder. He also does red onion jam, pumpkin seed pesto, sundried tomato pesto and many other things including a lasagne of aubergine and courgette.

Pot & Kettle foods can be purchased at Kate's Kitchen and the Food Experience, Sligo, Moran's in Ballina and shortly in McCambridge's in Galway. David can be contacted on 087 757-3400 or

Originally from Coleraine, Trevor Irvine and his wife Myra, a native of Leitrim, have "a little shop" in Dromahair called Cheese Etc. It may be a little shop but, judging from the cheeses on display in Manorhamilton, Trevor and Myra cover a very wide range. Trevor says they specialise in Irish farmhouse cheese; he sources the cheese from individual small producers throughout the country, with the criteria that the milk used in the making of each cheese is from the farm itself or sourced very locally to that producer. The demand is ever increasing for sheep and goat's cheeses.

Trevor had a freshly made goat's cheese, Cuilcagh from Belturbet, which "is pasteurised and vegetarian -- collected on a Tuesday and on sale the following Friday and Saturday". Another very nice handmade sheep's cheese is Creeny, made in Corleggy, Co Cavan. Emerald is a new cheese made by Frank and Gudrun Shinnick's Fermoy Natural Cheese Company. All of their cheeses are made from milk from their own herd of pedigree Friesian cows who graze the pastures of the Blackwater River Valley. The second, Dilliscus, is an interesting, and delicious, cheese containing the seaweed dillisk. Cheese Etc also has lots of lovely olives. As well as Manorhamilton, Trevor also does the markets at Sligo, Carrick on Shannon, Keadue in Roscommon and St George's Market in Belfast.

Contact Cheese Etc on 086 265 4675 or

Monika Edler and her partner Reinhold Ostrau came to Manorhamilton from Essen in Germany on a fishing holiday about 25 years ago. They promptly fell in love with the place and bought a holiday home. After five years of coming and going on holidays, they decided that they didn't "want to go home to Germany any more, that Ireland now felt like home". Both Monika and Reinhold were psychologists in Germany but felt they were not fluent enough to practise in English here so they needed to find a second career. They spent a year learning about beekeeping, in which Reinhold already had an involvement. Their Shanvaus Apiary has been up and running for the last 20 years, embracing all elements of beekeeping and production. Apart from honey, they have candles of all sorts, beeswax leather polish, honey hair care, soaps and sweets. You can also get all the equipment for beekeeping as well as take part in courses at Shanvaus Apiary.

Monika and Reinhold also do the markets in Sligo and Carrick-on-Shannon. They can be contacted at 071 985-5683 or on

I remember some years ago going up to Dromahair to visit a French restaurant, which is now gone, but it struck me that there are quite a few French people in the foodie business in the north west. One of these is Franck Pasquier who has a bakery shop in Sligo called the French Market.

His nephew Alexandre Leveque was on duty at the stall in Manorhamilton, which feature gorgeous breads, croissants, pain au chocolat, Danishes with raisins and custard, chocolate with custard, French baguettes, Spelt bread made with organic white flour, wholegrain bread, blue cheese bread, bread with bacon . . . all mouth-watering.

The French Market also does a range of pates by Les Terrines de Morvan such as beef with Burgundy, hare, white boar, rabbit and so on as well as jams from the south of France which Alexandre tells me are much better than jams from anywhere else due to the long hours of sunshine on the fruits -- "they are just different," he says.

The French Market is at Tobergal Lane, Sligo. Tel: 087 683-4397.

Also selling lovely breads and confectionery at Manorhamilton was Lisa McWeeney. Lisa's father and mother Willie and Betty have been in business in Ballinamore, Co Leitrim, for some 30 years with a shop and bakery. Lisa had lovely white and brown soda breads, potato bread, treacle bread, apple tarts, raspberry and coconut muffins, jam Bakewells, and the currently very popular cup cakes on display. A nice range of jams were also available. Lisa can be contacted on 087 990-3692.

Enda McCallig, from Killybegs, who has the Omega Fish Company, had a lovely range of fresh fish and shellfish on display. Enda is bringing fresh local fish, all caught in Donegal, to the people. He has his own small inshore boat and he sells his own prawns, lobster, mackerel and crab. Enda, whose family have been in the fishing business for years, explained that "the fishing industry has all gone mechanical, all the manual work is gone. Most of the fishing done up there is controlled by eight or nine companies with foreign involvement in many -- most of the fish is frozen and exported -- even people in the local towns don't see it".

Enda continued, "25 years ago, hundreds of families had a livelihood from fishing but that is all gone. If I didn't have outlets like the markets I couldn't fish."

Most of the white fish comes from Greencastle which he sources from another small family business, Eany Fish. If he doesn't have prawns himself, he buys them from local fishermen "with families to support". Look out for Enda at markets in Cavan and Leitrim -- he can also be contacted on 086 173-4490.

Sunday Independent

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