Extract from The Farmer’s Gazette June 5th 1948
Jan 17th-Dec. 31st 1947.
Our market started in most adverse circumstances. Vegetables had never been scarcer owing to the bad weather of 1946, and bread rationing, which had recently been introduced, was stringent, and no one had surplus flour. All the other town’s in S. Tipperary had been discussed as possible sites for the venture, but the local
committees, for some reason or other another thought that nothing could be done.
Fethard Guild, spurred on by its members, and against the advice of the Chairman, who writes this report, decided to open a weekly market, on the model of the markets run by Women’s Institutes in England, charging one penny in a shilling for all produce disposed of.
We rented the bottom of the Town Hall, which is in a central position, and we insured it against fire. This Hall has wide door’s which open straight off the street. It was being used as a store for empty packing cases, and for a fire engine, and part of it is being used as an office for the town weighing scales. The ancient fourteenth century walls are pierced with deep apertures, which make the hall very cold and draughty, and we had before us two months of snow and flood. We put in plugs for an electric fire and kettle. Before many months had passed the authorities decided to block off a portion of our abode for the fire engine, and this was a blessing as it made the room of more manageable proportions and got rid of some of the draughts.
Some broken down furniture was roosting in the hall, so we arranged it to act as counters, when we had camouflaged it into respectability with some Hessian from the country shop Luckily, we had inherited from a previous adventure, a shallow and very long :chicken run, which had been used to protect eatables at shows. This kept the bread and cakes safe from too eager customers. Our third possessions were, a weighing scales lent by Miss Drury, and some excellent steel-framed chairs and tables, which were hired to the market. We bought an electric kettle and were lent an electric stove. We converted a handsome Victorian workbox into the most efficient of moneyboxes by getting a carpenter to divide it into sloping compartments. We bought a lock-up case for our books and we had the loan of some egg packing cases. We had a few pounds which had been subscribed by sympathizers, and we had two jolly posters which showed glorious cakes and vegetables, and were headed THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME
Some local opposition was to be expected, and to meet this, we had circularised every household explaining our plans saying,( A Market should not conflict with shopkeepers or traders, as the prices charged will be current market prices, and if the country women bring their produce into the towns they will spend their money in the town, and do their shopping there. Where these markets have been held, they have proved a stimulus to business, and created a steady demand for high-class produce. We hope we shall have your sympathy and support.)
The report goes on to tell of the increase to trade in the town, also of the opening of a brand new Market garden during the first year of trading.
The pricing proved to be a problem, and the controller(May Quinlan) had the ultimate authority of the task. It was soon found out to be increasingly difficult to look at everything brought in during the crowded half-hour in which they were getting their stalls ready, to combat this problem the pricing was done by the stall-holders, who became expert with added experience.
A Friday morning was chosen for the day of the market, which proved to be a wise choice as it was a day for collecting the pensions, also for people from the country to go to the Bank to get money for wages. The streets were full of potential customers. Being a Fast Day, there were more customers for eggs, vegetables and savoury dishes.
The Market as reported went from strength to strength, more than one third of the total sales was in eggs and poultry, and a dealers license had to be taken out to comply with regulations, also a girl had to be employed as egg packer.
There was twelve to sixteen workers and every one needed, as they had to ride in miles on cycles in all weathers, and be punctual, there was to be a cup of tea and something to eat available. The sellers were all but one, members of the I.C.A. and loved the job,
From that first day when they opened and everything had been sold, and the takings were Ten pounds, as quoted (We knew we would succeed if we persevered)
The final sales for the first fifty weeks Vegetables-97 pounds, Eggs-312 pounds,Poultry-67 pounds, Confectionary-181 pounds, Fruit-31 pounds, Flowers-41 pounds, Miscellaneous-236 pounds(second-hand clothes and handicrafts) Donations (Magazines and patterns) 28 pounds, Making a total of 996 pounds of this sum 836 pounds went to producers.
The headline on the first leaflets as follows.(THE BEST AT A FAIR PRICE,AND MONEY STRAIGHT TO THE PRODUCER) O.H.A.Hughes.
From the original setting up of the market Mrs Hannie Leahy is the only surviving member, I joined our market Fethard, in 1995 after emigrating to Ireland from England, I produced baking and crafts. Before being able to join you have to be proposed and seconded, I loved my Friday mornings behind the stall’s enjoying the craic with the locals, I became the controller in 1997(not an easy task, with tact and diplomacy being high on the list needed) Every year one of the markets is Host, to the annual regional meetings, where we have work-shops, talks and a general enjoyable get together. We were Host when we had our Fiftieth Anniversary in 1997, it was a superb get together when Hannie was presented with a Silver Pin from the Country Markets. I am honoured that I am a very small part of this association , although I am unable to be part of it at the moment, I have still paid my subscription which is Six pounds a year. Out of this is one pound for insurance, and five pounds for the Country Market shares.