The History of Country Markets

Interview with Hannie Leahy, a founding member of the Fethard branch of Country Markets Ltd (February 1947) which is still trading today.

Country Markets Limited was established in 1946 by the Irish Homespun Society and the Irish Countrywomen’s Association and is proud to be celebrating its 68th Anniversary this year. As both the Irish Homespun Society and the Irish Countrywomen’s Association carried charitable status it was not possible to trade on an individual’s behalf. Therefore, Country Markets Limited was established as a totally independent registered co-operative Society and was affiliated to I.C.O.S. (Irish Co-operative Organisation Society) in early 1947.

The aim of Country Markets Limited is to market, by co-operative means, producer members’ good fresh quality farm, garden and home produce and traditional crafts using our natural resources. Marketing co-operatively in this way it is hoped to enhance, in a small way the family income.

The first branch market opened in Fethard, Co. Tipperary, in 1947 and is still in operation. Of those opened between 1946 and 1974, 32 have remained. Currently there are 49 branch markets around the country.

To maintain high standards in food and craft produce a number of workshops are held annually in different locations around the country. This affords the members an opportunity to share ideas and learn new skills.

The Society’s business is under the direction of a voluntary Chairman and Committee of Management which meets bi-monthly. Country Markets employs one part-time administrator.

While our primary purpose is to enhance the home and farm income we also believe in a vibrant rural life and help promote it in every way available to us. Branch markets keep local money in local areas and assist in developing a community spirit in new markets and maintaining it in long established ones.

In the traditional crafts field Country Markets Limited has played a leading role. This was done by way of major craft exhibitions and demonstrations at venues around the country and at the Royal Dublin Society’s Annual Crafts Competition. We are proud to be members of the Crafts Council of Ireland and to sponsor a medal each year for excellence in this field.

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