Saturday, 26 June 2010

Friday Morning Market - St Georges,

I love a Friday morning nosey round the market, I used to work next door to St Georges so it still gives me that feeling you had during a sick day at school.

First things first, SD Bells stall for a coffee then go for a wander.

Many of the stall holders can trace trading at St Georges back across 3 or 4 generation of family. You can get everything here from picture hooks to langoustines, a packet of dusters or Belgian chocolates. I love the weird bric-a-brac, stuff especially.

Whilst the market has changed with the times, you still have the sense of the original Victorian market. The noise, clatter, the smell of fish as you near the counter, the harsh edged accent of a bit of Belfast banter in the air. I’ve often wondered has the Friday morning market developed from the traditional Irish catholic habit of eating fish on a Friday? Regardless the market now has the largest fish counter in Ireland.

As someone recently put it the Saturday market is “a bit more middle class” focusing primarily on food and has a feel of a slightly upmarket ‘continental’ market, with the addition of music and entertainers. It’s a great resource for small local producers to have a retail outlet to the public for minimal cost and you find a selection of food that’s far and above anything you get at the woeful city hall market. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning but it’s the original Friday market I love most.

There has been a Friday market on the St. George’s site since 1604, Originally St George’s Market was an open market with stalls and included a meat market and slaughter house. Its name may have come from St George’s Church in High Street. The current St George’s Market was commissioned by the Belfast Corporation (now Belfast City Council). It was built in three phases between 1890 and 1896.

Interestingly following heavy German bombing during the Belfast blitz on Easter Tuesday 1941, St George’s Market was used as an emergency mortuary. Some 700 people were killed during the raids with 255 bodies brought to the market for identification.

By the end of the 1980’s the market faced the threat of closure. Public pressure lead to investment being made and refurbishment began. The renovated St George’s Market opened on 14 May 1999.

Today it’s used to Conferences, Concerts, Product launches and a Market every Fri and Sat. During the summer they are also trying Sunday opening. Give it a go, it really is great crack.

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