Thanks to its gentle and generous nature, this corner of the world has a wonderful food culture. West Cork’s farmers, award-winning artisan producers and chefs are leading Ireland’s culinary revolution.
From traditional pubs to world-class restaurants, at local farmers’ markets, and long-established food festivals, you can enjoy great food, which is locally sourced, right across West Cork.
Food producers of West Cork take pride in what they do and each item reflects not only the thought and effort put into creating their unique products but also the passion and enthusiasm they give to their work.
From mouth-watering strawberries (no easy task to grow in this region), to award-winning cheeses and blackpudding, from succulent organic meat to fresh, flavoursome fish, from rich and luxurious yoghurt to smooth creamy beer — the list is endless. If you haven’t sampled some of the local produce while visiting West Cork, you are definitely missing out on a one-of-a-kind gastronomic experience.
The huge popularity of local markets in West Cork continues to grow and shows no sign of abating. Markets provide a unique opportunity for customers to meet the producers and to sample unique delights. They also create an ambiance within a town centre that harks back to the market days of yore. Visit any market in a town and you will be pleasantly surprised at the hum of activity and banter that accompanies market day. These markets run all year long with a short break, for some, after Christmas. West Cork has many unique markets and below are some of the markets in the main towns around West Cork.
Macroom (Tuesdays): Dead smack in the centre of Macroom, beside the town hall, can be found the most vibrant of markets each Tuesday. Home to a large herd of water buffalo it boasts one of the many unique products from this area, namely, Macroom Dairy’s award-winning fresh Irish Buffalo Mozzarella. This cheese won the gold medal at the World Cheese Awards, one of the highest accolades in the business, beating seven other Italian Buffalo Mozzarellas. Organic veg, a full range of cheeses, olives, street food, local honeys, plants and herbs, pizza, coffee, homeware, clothing and crafts can also be found here. The council is continuously working with the market traders in looking for ways in which to improve the market. This successful partnership has ensured Macroom markets vibrancy for decades. The market operates every Tuesday from 9am -2pm.
Kinsale (Wednesdays): Located in the centre of town in Kinsale’s main town car park right by the sea, this market has been thriving for the past 14 years. Well-attended by customers and traders alike the selection available is a full range of what West Cork has to offer. Fresh organic veg, pickles, breads, Thai food, cheeses, olives, hummus, coffee, salads, pickles, vegan treats are just some of the fare on offer. Wood-crafts, plants and herbs are also available. The market is at its thriving best come summertime with a full range of local produce. The market operates every Wednesday from 9am-2.30pm.
Castletownbere (First Thursday & every Thurs in the summer): This market has seen peaks and troughs over the past few years. Located on the square where the famous ‘McCarthys Bar’ of book-of-same-name fame is located, this market has a limited range of items available for the curious and hungry. Hosted on the traditional market day you could come out of this quirky market with a dizzying array of items. A box of ducklings, antique jewelry, historical books, fishing rods, exotic plants, a carpet and a pair of wellies could easily represent a day’s shopping at this beautiful little market. The hard-nosed haggling that goes on here is a joy to behold, with intricate wheelings and dealings that would make your head spin. The market operates the first Thursdays and every Thursday in the summer from 9am-2:30pm.
Bantry (Fridays): Bantry market is one of the largest markets in the area. Each Friday during the summer you are likely to come upon 100 -150 stalls all trading a range from the finest foods to the ultimate in curios. The buzz in Bantry on market day is palpable with people coming from all around Bantry and the local peninsulas to sample the delights. The first Friday (Fair Day) sees people travel from all around County Cork to see a huge number of traders with a very interesting array of livestock and poultry on view as well as all the regular traders. Every Friday from 9am – 2:30pm.
Clonakilty (Fridays): Clonakilty Market is beautifully situated in Emmet Square, the jewel of Clonakilty, and one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in Ireland. Local meats, organic veg, fish, chicken, hot street food, fresh juices, raw chocolates, olives, cheeses, fresh salads, handmade soaps, breads and cakes are just some of the food fare on offer. It also hosts an excellent coffee stall and a fine selection of hot food such as crepes, pizza and Thai food. Every Friday, 9am-2pm.
Bandon (Saturdays): Since it’s move to the area below St. Peter’s Church this market continues to grow in popularity with regular customers supporting this wonderful market every Saturday morning. Again, organic veg, meats, delicious coffees, fish, jams, cakes, spelt breads, are the staple of this market. The market operates every Saturday from 9.30am – 1.30pm.
Skibbereen (Saturdays): Dubbed “the best small food market in the world” by the Observer Food Magazine, the market in the Fair Field each Saturday is a true success story. Thanks to the tenacity of its founding traders and the support of local customers the market is one of the most successful and diverse markets in Ireland. Skibbereen now boasts one of the largest markets in the area with a truly mind-blowing selection of food, drinks and crafts. In summer the market hosts an astonishing 150-200 stalls. Plenty of seats and a naturally pedestriansed area makes this market a hive of activity and an absolute pleasure to visit on a sunny Saturday morning. The market operates from 9.30am – 1.30pm.
Schull (Sun from Easter): Established by the local producers, this market attracts a wide range of traders and visitors alike. Set in the picturesque seaside town of Schull this market is a real Sunday treat. Once the Sunday Mass bell tolls the market is suddenly swamped with tourists and locals alike. Local crafts, hot food, breads, organic veg, cakes and picnic basket fillers make up some of the selection fare here. The market operates from 9.30am – 2.30pm.
Other smaller markets: Dunmanway on Thursdays, Glengarriff (on Saturdays/Sundays), Rosscarbery on Saturdays
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