This covered food market dates back to 1786 (there has been a market on the site since 1610) and today it’s a bustling indoor food market with everything from fresh fish to spices, cheeses, oils and homemade cakes on sale. It's also a hub of social activity for the city, where people meet for a shop and a chat.
Wander around the market to sample some of the region’s best produce – from the fresh fish landed on the pier at east Cork fishing village Ballycotton (Ballycotton Seafood Ltd) to the Toonsbridge Buffalo Mozzarella from The Olive Stall.
Farmgate Café on the market’s upper balcony level looks over the market hall and is a great place for people-watching and soaking up the atmosphere while tucking into fresh oysters or seafood chowder, or coffee and cake.
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Murder & Pigs Feet: Exploring Cork's Old English Market & Reflecting on Irish History
While in Ireland, your imagination will take over while exploring the country. It’s especially the case when you have a guide crooning their Irish heritage over the speakers capturing the essence and mood of each era. A moment that particularly stood out amongst the narratives of Vikings, kings and famine was the story of Michael Collins as we neared the city of Cork, Michael Collins' birth place. Our guide with his back to us as he drove the bus he took pause for a moment dropping his shoulders.
“As we enter County Cork we near the site where Michael Collins was ambushed and murdered.” His voice became softer as he spoke on explaining the significance of Collins, the Irish leader who helped to unite most of Ireland as a negotiator for the Anglo-Irish treaty. The fact that Collins was unable to negotiate all of Ireland into the treaty fuelled the split within the country and the Irish Civil War.
After signing the treaty Collins famously said, “I may have signed my actual death warrant.“
The English Market operated in conjunction with history. It was buzzing with tourists and locals pouring over each stall. One sold t-shirts hailing Collins in loving memory. I pressed on absorbing the atmosphere both nostalgic and quaint. My mouth was agape with all the cheese, jams, seafood, quail eggs, pigs feet, and pastries within each loggia of the covered arcade. Nose to tail dinning at its best with everything in between and beyond.
The English Market is a popular stop for visitors to Cork; even Queen Elizabeth II included it on the itinerary of her last state visit to Ireland, and was seen chatting and joking with the stall holders. This covered food market that has been trading since 1788 is at the heart of Cork’s gourmet scene. Browse the stalls, where vendors sell locally produced meat, fish and vegetables, and take home a few edible souvenirs like Frank Hederman’s smoked salmon.