Hooked on the market

There is an aisle? It’s all go, gongs and gills at the fish-mongers’ section of Cork city’s famous food-friendly English Market.

In a week of fish-related activity on different scales, there’s a design award for one tiny unit, fish smoker Frank Hederman’s new shop.

Then, there’s a significant new competitive letting on another large unit set for a fish-stall and, thirdly, five-star praise for the English Market and its Farm Gate Cafe has washed from over the Irish Sea, by none other than Sunday Times food critic AA Gill.

The influential Mr Gill last weekend rated Cork’s food emporium, the English Market “the best covered market south of Scandinavia and west of France,” and also raised the English Market’s balconied Farm Gate Cafe run by the Harte family to even more exalted heights. AA Gill nobly feasted on tripe, drisheen, smashing mashed potatoes — and market-sourced seafood. He gave it a rare five-star, an AA-rating, so to speak.

Now, the market’s fish-selling aisle which traditionally has been dominated by Kay O’Connell’s huge stall presence — and by the ebullient trader Pat O’Connell who famously put a smile on the face of the Queen of England when she visited — is about to up-scale too in the seafood stakes.

Existing traders Ballycotton Seafood, who took over the old Bandon Burke Fish Stall several years ago from Jack and the late Marion Burke, appear set to sail a few yards from this ‘Bandon’ stall (facing O’Connells) to a far larger unit: Ballycotton (founded in 1985) are taking over the former Iago Food Company’s vacated 500 sq ft corner stall at Unit 42, and run three other Cork shops, plus their own boats.

The lease on Unit 42 went up for grabs during summer, with agent Sam Kingston of Casey and Kingston confidently seeking offers over €100,000 for the lease. It appears he didn’t have to cast his net too far to lure the ambitious Ballycotton Seafood traders to this far larger and display-friendly stall.

The deal with €100k ‘quay money’ exceeded, has since waited on the approval of English Market landlords, Cork City Council.

Stall 42 has a rent of €8,000 pa, service charges of €9,500, rates of €2,800 pa, and insurance of €1,500 pa, and was occupied by Iagos fine foods since 1993.

Iagos has since decamped to a street-side presence on Princes Street, paying a reported rent of €30,000 pa.

Meanwhile, the more minnow-sized stall run by Belvelly Smokehouse’s Frank Hederman has picked up a Cork City Council/Evening Echo Better Buildings Award after an imaginative revamp and make-over. The gong for stall/shop design by furniture maker and designer Aoife Browne (see www.esuvia.com) with suitably smokey glass features adds to the visual array and design standard on the market’s fish alley and aisle.

It’s one of the few occasions when the city’s shop design awards went under-cover, or indoors, to recognise trading presentation.

Belvelly Smokehouse’s co-director Caroline Workman said Ms Browne “left no stone unturned to create a shop front that reflected the quality and uniqueness of our fish, our brand and Frank’s craft, and to give presence to an important corner of the English Market.” ’

Details: Casey and Kingston 021-4271127


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