Woodquay market may be regular weekend feature

There are few outdoor enterprises that survive Galway’s inclement weather conditions like the Saturday market in the city centre – and owing to the success of last weekend’s potato market, that tradition could well become a regular feature in Woodquay once again.

President Michael D Higgins was among the estimated 60,000 visitors that attended the second Galway Food Festival at Fishmarket Square (Spanish Arch), which proved to be the perfect opportunity to test a revival of an event that died out in the 1980s.

The Woodquay Business Association and local residents came together in a joint initiative to put life back into the idea surrounding the weekly potato market, during which farmers would set up stalls and sell their wares.

Tom Smith, of McSwiggan’s, and one of the organisers, estimates that it finished up around the time that his bar and restaurant opened its doors over 20 years ago.

“We were advised by the City Council to have a trial market during the food festival,” he told The Sentinel yesterday.

“We were inundated with applications from people who cannot get into the St Nicholas’s Market. We had 15 extra applicants that we couldn’t accommodate, because we had agreed with the City Council that we’d only take up a certain number of parking spaces.”

Their faith in the idea proved well-founded, and its success has strengthened hopes of the market becoming a regular weekend feature.

The parties involved are to meet with City Council staff in the coming weeks to discuss the possibility. It also has the support of the City Enterprise Board.

“They came on board and were very supportive,” Tom adds.
“They were very interested in it, and would love to see it happen regularly – to rejuvenate the area, in a manner acceptable to businesses and residents, and to bring people to Woodquay.”

Traders came from all over Ireland, and among the 21 stall holders were Laura O’Rourke from Oranmore; Oisin Kenny, a young organic farmer from Claregalway, and Marly’s Coffee, which produces award-winning marmalade.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.