Monday 18 November 2019

Lay of the Land: This country market is a moveable feast

It didn't take more than two Mrs Doyle-style 'go on, go ons' for Fiona O'Connell to succumb
It didn't take more than two Mrs Doyle-style 'go on, go ons' for Fiona O'Connell to succumb

Fiona O'Connell

I missed mooching around this town's country market when it closed over Christmas. And I'm still mostly missing it now. (Because of ailing parents, I'm sometimes stuck in the Big Smoke at weekends.)

So it's not just far away hills that are green, but also this forcibly far away Fiona. Especially when I'm bumper to bleary bumper on a monotonous motorway on market day - giving me ample time to envy everyone who's high-tailing it to the concert hall to cram their bags and baskets with a hotchpotch of the home-made goodies on offer.

But imagination can help. For sometimes I sate myself with a virtual visit to this wonderland of wares by remembering one particularly scrumptious visit last year.

The makers, bakers and flour-sieving shakers often sit together around a table, a portable radio and cups of tea set before them and whoever else wishes to partake. But that week I did a double-take when I walked in, because it had been transformed into a country market cornucopia.

There was chocolate cake, drenched in disgustingly delectable icing; a Black Forest gateau; some sort of spongy, strawberry thing that looked sinful but worth doing the time (and tubbiness) for; and a plate of those old as the hills but highly effective delights, Butterfly Buns.

All these entrepreneurial producers were happy as Larry as they larruped into this glut of goodies. And why wouldn't they be, with afternoon tea that the Ritz would do well to match?

Brendan invited me to join them. But you've got to watch this tall man with unlined, alabaster skin and snowy-white hair. For I've been lured too many times by his lethal, mouth-watering meringues. Though he also bakes brilliant loaves of bread, using unbleached flour from a mill in Kells, the erstwhile capital of this county.

I asked him what the heck was going on. Brendan explained that two change of decade birthdays were being celebrated; Ed was 80, while he had sailed into 60.

It didn't take more than two Mrs Doyle-style 'go on, go ons' for me to succumb. So I set my bag of goods down next to Breda.

She is responsible for a work of art tea cosy that I bought for a friend who lives in the States. I confided to this nifty knitter that I hadn't posted it yet, because I was too busy admiring it myself.

But I did send the tea cosy packing in the end. It was perfect for an ex-pat done good, living in the salubrious surroundings of the Hamptons, alongside the likes of Alex Baldwin and Jerry Seinfeld.

For they may have all kinds of everything. But I doubt either of them has an immaculately knitted Irish country cottage, complete with sash windows and a puff of grey smoke, keeping their pots of tea warm.

As did the memory of it, as I drove on to Dublin.

Sunday Independent

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