Cork is located on Ireland’s south coast and its history dates back to the 6th century. Today, it is Ireland’s second largest city after Dublin and often its citizens jokingly refer to it as ‘the real capital’. Among this bustling city you will find the famous English Market in an area stretching from Princes Street to the Grand Parade with entrances on Princes Street, Patrick Street, the Grand Parade, New Market Lane and Mutton Lane. Established in 1788, this market is celebrating its 230th birthday this year – no mean feat!
The English Market is a covered market supplying mainly food produce from all over the world as well as traditional Cork foods such as fish, fruit, meat and vegetable and some gifts. It boasts a vast array of fantastic traders who really make your visit special – Queen Elizabeth thought so when she visited it in 2011, so much so that she recommended for her son, Prince Charles to visit which he did in 2018. Traditional and modern foodies alike shop at this market although their food shopping baskets could not be more different. The old working class continues to buy traditional ingredients for old Irish recipes including tripe and drisheen, salted ling, crubeens and cheap cuts and in stark contrast new middle class foodies are able to source olives, foccacia breads and organic meat and vegetables all under the same roof. Here you will discover everything needed to a traditional Irish dinner.
If the walls of the English Market could talk they would tell you that its name was appointed in the 19th century to differentiate this market from the nearby St. Peter’s Market, which was commonly known as the Irish Market. This market was a vital source of revenue for the city, accounting for one-third of the Cork city corporation’s entire income in the 1830’s. In 1980 the markets original building was destroyed by fire and the building was restored, in sympathy with the original Victorian building’s design, by Cork Corporation to an award-winning design by the Cork city architect T. F. MacNamara. In a nutshell, it has survived the Irish Famine, revolutions, wars, fire, economic decline and more making it a true gem in Ireland’s crown.
At the heart of it, the English Market is a place of business and trade that acts as a social hub in Cork city bringing the community together. Its history and reputation attracts thousands of visitors every year who savour this experience. It is a feast for visitors both visually and physically – definitely a must for anyone travelling to Ireland.