Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Update on Country Markets Ltd

The first Management Comittee meeting of 2012 took place on 23/01/2012.
PR, website, funding, budgets, area meetings, and the events calender were on the agenda.

We are now able to view the traffic to the website and discover more about what our visitors are looking for. After much discussion the changes, based on what we have learned were agreed on. Some changes will be made sooner than others, as our web designer has other commitments. We will also be incorporating the Bridgestone Award, and highlighting our membership of the Craft Council of Ireland.

Public Relations
I am delighted that Bord Bia have given us sponsorship of 500 euros towards our PR budget for the 65th anniversary celebrations. As part of the celebrations we are working on a one day event in Dublin during the Summer. This event will highlight the weekly markets held around the country. A pop up market is being investigated on St Stephens Green, opposite the site of The Country Shop.

The Country Shop was opened by Muriel Gahan in 1930 as a restaurant, as well as an outlet for the sale of country crafts and home produce. I hope to make a presentation to The Lord Mayor of Dublin on behalf of Country Markets Ltd on the same day.

Area Meetings
Due to popular demand the area meetings will be held in March. We hope to have the dates and venues confirmed in the next week or so. Details of events such as Bloom, Dublin Horse Show, National Ploughing Championship, Electric Picnic and smaller regional events will be available. Markets will be able to consider their commitment to such events in advance of the closing dates for application.

We are costing customised carrier bags. The mock- up of these brown paper bags, complete with logo will also be available to see. The supplier has agreed if the order is placed centrally, the bags can be delivered locally.

Country Markets continue to feature in Easyfood magazine. David Curran, our National Treasurer has given tips and advice on vegetable growing for beginners in the February and March editions. Those who want to grow cut flowers for their home, check out the April edition. Gloria Everett from Waterford branch grows for her market and has many happy customers.

Market Visit
I will be in Naas on Friday 03/02/2012 at the AGM. The branch is celebrating 60 years in business later this year. Don't forget to send them good wishes, it is a wonderful achievement and I am really looking forward to visiting the market.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Seasons Greetings!

The first Country Market was held on 17th of January 1947 in Fethard, Co Tipperary. The Irish economy still displayed all the effects of wartime dislocation, rationing, rising inflation, falling living standards and frequent strikes.
The Big Snow of 1947 began one week later. Of the fifty days between January 24th and March 17th it snowed on thirty of them. In places the driving winds caused snowdrifts that reached the tops of telegraph poles. The country came to a complete standstill, and the plummeting temperatures caused many deaths of people and livestock. Yet people persevered and their resilience got them through.

At the moment it doesn’t look as if 2012 will be any better than 2011, but perspective is important at this time. It might be a good idea to look back at how our ancestors faced their challenges.

Over 400,000 people left Ireland in the 1950s, at home many lived in very poor housing conditions from inner city tenements, to town and rural hovels. Poverty was rife and many people were confined in dreadful institutions.

Opportunities for country women to earn money and craftworkers to sell their work were few. The founders of Country Markets Ltd realised that working together for a common cause could help. This grass roots initiative of self and mutual help came to fruition when the first branch market opened in Fethard.

Today standards in housing, education , income and benefits are much better. What ever problems we have today are mild compared to those faced by people in 1947.

Country Markets have the framework for a viable future,which has stood the test of time. Country Markets Ltd currently has 61 branch markets, membership of 1051 and continues to attract new members.

Had our ancestors not faced their many challenges we would not be here. Lets make 2012 a year when Country Markets rises to the challenge.

A very Happy New Year to you all.

JamGate continues on Shannonside local radio 04/01/2012

After a week or more of debate in the letters page of the Irish Times about Granard Country Market jam (see last post 27/11/2011), there was an interview on Shannonside local radio today. James Crowden, the British food and drinks writer who bought the jam and Alan Harrison, producer of the jam and member of Granard Country Market were on the Joe Finnegan Show this morning.

Throughout the week several people have written to The Irish Times expressing their annoyance at the confiscation of very ordinary food items by anti terrorist police in Dublin Airport. After the jam was confiscated Mr Crowden had only to travel a few hundred yards further where he could buy lots of duty free jam.

Throughout the radio show several loyal customers of the Granard branch market rang in to endorse Alan’s beautiful homemade, additive free jams.