North Wicklow Country Market is a treasure of a place…
Only a few weeks ago my mate Siobh was around for tea. She’s a women in the loop and I’ve luckily been at the receiving end of this on multiple occasions. Knowing how food bonkers I am, she pulled out her phone to show off a picture of her organic vegetable haul from a country market just down the road from where we both live. Her basket was brimming with the earthiest, most divine of all veg I have ever laid my eyes upon.
But let’s get real… Mad money comes to mind when any of us think about anything organic… But… Wait a minute… The best part of all was that the contents of her gorgeous basket cost no more than a tenner! Hands down, I know what you’re thinking but she wasn’t lying, I swear… I’ve been and spent a tenner and admittedly another tenner on top of that ‘cos it’s me and where food is in question – I always get carried away!
So Siobh collected me early Saturday morning and together we hit off to see what we could find at this week’s North Wicklow Country Market. Buzzing with excitement, I remember walking through the basketball hall like doors thinking ‘woah, this is incredible!’ and felt really privileged. You won’t see this market on any billboards or being advertised anywhere… They thrive on return locals who have been loyal for years and welcome the odd blown in like myself with arms wide open.
It’s a modest community space with no frills, turned into a rustic country shopping center every Saturday from 10.30 until 12.30. Long narrow tables are covered with chequered table cloth and the orange tinted light from the tall roof makes it very homey. The market prides itself in offering an impressive amount of parking and ramps making it accessible for everyone – which is at the heart of what they want. People flock here knowing only the finest of Wicklow vegetables, jams, chutneys, lemonades, baked goods, flowers and even knitted wear awaits them.
All the produce is sourced within a 10 mile radius from both certified and non certified organic farmers. But being as traditional and passion driven as these farmers are, a good 80 – 90 % of the produce is from organic farms regardless of a cert… They hand pick everything just hours before the market opens, ensuring nothing but the freshest of veg you’ll ever come across. I’ve never tasted carrots as good – covered in muck with the bushy green stalks left on, a simple scrub and minimal cooking promises a carotene party! And I bet you couldn’t find that buzz in a club or side of the street for that matter…
The queues of people with hands grasped tightly around their baskets, at the ready to fill them with as many quality veg as possible is like witnessing the queue at The Happy Pear on a sunny Saturday, awaiting with patience their flat white or trendy Buddha bowl – the dedication is real ‘cos they know they’re in for a treat.
I even heard one lady say to whom must have been her daughter ‘will you keep in line, sweet Jesus everything will be gone!’. It was almost like popping into the local on Christmas eve and being trolley bumped and hurried by last minute shoppers in a panic for fear they’d missed that last bag of brussels sprouts or fresh tub of cream… The world is going to end kind of carry on.
Very comical indeed and if anything… It just shows how valued this market is to each customer’s weekly way of life. No matter it being summer or winter you’re either in line with the attitude of getting the absolute best from each table… Or… You’re there half heartedly and going to be hard done by every other vegetable enthusiast and left with nothing but a dull looking plate of food for the week ahead – so toughen up I say!
The market is run by the brilliant Jackie with the help her husband John who muscles the heavy lifting and features as chief of charm for us blow ins! It’s not only the most adorable duo who make this place what it is, there’s an army of women from the community who get stuck in every Saturday morning too. The end of my shopping was made even more enjoyable by Margaret, one of the many ladies who sacrifice their weekend lie in to bring to the community a truly brilliant market. She helped the cashier scan through my over loaded basket and kept a continuous smile until we were all paid up and ready to head home.
A treasure of a place and honestly one of the best food markets I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. It’s been around since 1978 and they show no signs of slowing down. They welcome any Wicklow locals or others outside of our vicinity to come join them any Saturday from 10.30 until 12.30. You don’t even have to think about breakfast… They have you sorted with their charming pop up cafe, offering tea and coffee along with a wide range of brilliantly priced scones and pastries. If you’re as food mad as I am, you’re bound to love this place!
To keep up to date and for further details check out their Facebook Page.