·Sir, – One of Britain’s finest food and drink writers has had three pots of Irish homemade jam confiscated from him at Dublin airport by the anti-terrorism police.
James Crowden, who has won the Andre Simon Food Award for his bookCiderland, had been invited by Bord Bia to address a meeting of apple-growers and cider-makers in Drogheda about the history of Irish cider and the future for artisan cider-making.
The next day he went to Granard, the birthplace of his great, great, great, grandfather, Dennis Crowden. And in the Greville Arms, where a peat fire was burning nicely, he purchased three jars of homemade jam from a man called Alan who had just finished his stint at the Granard Country Markets. James bought three jars of jam (apricot, plum and blackberry), from him. Each had a traceable number. The value of the jam was €2.50 a jar, having local discount for buying in bulk.
These three jars of jam were to be a Christmas present to James’s father who is housebound in Somerset, England but still makes excellent jam. A small Christmas present from Granard and Co Longford.
Three hours later while boarding his flight back to Bristol EI3286 – on December 16th James Crowden was stopped by customs and anti-terrorism police at Dublin airport Terminal 1. His hand luggage was searched and the three jars of jam were confiscated. He was given no reason other than that they were in the wrong shaped jar. The jar should have been 100ml. The jam was not tested and neither was a receipt given for the jam. The jam was perfectly solid and was not a liquid.
We are calling on the authorities to give a full explanation for their actions and return the jam to its rightful owner via the good office of the solicitors Pol O’Murchu.
It seems ironic that Mr Crowden, who was invited over by Bord Bia to give advice on how to boost the Irish rural economy should be penalised in this way. These regulations obviously have a detrimental effect not only on the growth of Irish rural industry and country markets, but Irish tourism as well. Two vital ingredients to Ireland’s recovery.
In the UK, specially-trained dogs, usually spaniels, are used to sniff out explosives. Why not employ specially trained Irish dogs to sniff out homemade country market jam? That way customs would have an easy test and save lost of time and embarrassment.
What Mr Crowden wants to know is what did they do with the three jars of jam? Did they destroy them with a controlled explosion? Put them in a landfill site? Incinerate them? Or take them home and eat the jam themselves? The Irish nation needs answers. – Is mise,
Country Markets will have a column in February 2012 issue of Easy Food magazine.This time we've gone for a garden theme. David Curran, National Treasurer and member of Fethard branch in Tipperary, has done a beginners guide to growing potatoes and vegetables. It's a great opportunity to showcase the great variety of produce and skill within the markets.
Two members from Portlaoise Country Market have been selected to exhibit their crafts at the 2011 Year of Craft Exhibition in Dunamise Arts Centre, Portlaoise. Mary Meehan and Abigail Melia will display their millinery and jewellery alongside other craft workers, designers and artists from Laoise and further afield. A Pop Up Craft Shop on 17/12/2011 will allow the public to meet the exibitors and buy their work. The exhibition runs for the month of December.
Mary Phelan, an investigative consumer journalist with Irish Country Living magazine visited Stradbally branch of Country Markets today. Mary was there to get some photos to accompany her feature which I believe will be in next weeks issue.
Stradbally have been going from strength to strength since they started almost a year ago. Two of the fouding members are daughters of a past member of my own market in Granard, Co. Longford, and so the tradition lives on.
St Patrick’s Hall was filled with a great selection of Christmas fare, excellent fresh vegetables, along with beautiful holly wreaths, jewellery, cards and craft.
It takes a lot of work to achieve what Stradbally have, and in such a short time, so well done everyone.
Watch Westport Country Market, which was featured on Friday's Ireland AM TV programme.
Today (Saturday) the branch featured in an interview on a Today FM radio show with Phil Cawley.
Any opportunity we get to showcase our markets is great, so always include the national web address . This ensures that all branches benefit from the publicity, and lets people know we are a national cooperative. Cooperatives are again been looked at as a way forward, and with 2012 being the Year of the Cooperative, we should let it be known that we've been one for the last 65 years!