Kilternan Country Market, Co Dublin

 

The country market in Kilternan, Co Dublin, is many things: community development office, social network and, primarily, a co-operative market for members’ farm, garden and home produce as well as traditional crafts. Almost everything is grown or made within 10 miles of the hall. It started in 1964 and moved to its current building in 1968, and some of the founders are still active members.

It is also notable for the way it operates. On the way in, you get a form, which is divided into categories – deli, bakery, crafts, fruit and veg, and so on. Every item has a number which denotes its source, and as you choose something it is marked on your form. Instead of scrabbling around to pay everyone individually, you complete one transaction, on the way out.

When my mother and I first visited the market, in 1989, we were not fully prepared: we discovered that the first 30 people to arrive (long before 10am) receive tickets to go inside before the masses – and unfortunately, we didn’t have sturdy wicker baskets to nudge against competing knees.

But on my most recent visit, reusable shopping bags had almost replaced baskets, and I filled mine with impossibly powdery yet chewy meringues (€3.50 for a bag of seven), honey (€5.50, made by Wexford bees but bottled locally), a smoked salmon quiche (€7.25) that gave us two dinners, half a dozen eggs (€2.10) and a 6lb organic, free-range chicken (€18.90) that reminded some friends, visiting from the US, how Sunday roast dinners used to taste.

I was too late for most of the vegetables and for the apple tarts (though I could have ordered anything in advance, by phone), but shortbread biscuits, unbelievable scones (made that morning) and slices of moist, crumbly orange cake cried out for a cup of tea – so I obliged, at the coffee shop end of the room.

This is a hub of warm chatter and friendliness where newcomers are very welcome, and it’s a sign of a community that knows how to guide the future with values that, happily, have not been left in the past.

SHOPPING LIST

Potatoes (new): €5 for a 5lb bag

Eating apples: €1 per lb

Carrots (home-grown but not organic):

€1 per lb

Organic chicken: €18.90 for about 6lb

Marmalade: €3.50 for a 1lb pot of four-fruit

Large loaf of multiseed bread: €3.75

Rye and caraway rolls: €1 each

Large rhubarb crumble: €5.40

Kilternan Country Market, Golden Ball, Enniskerry Road, Co Dublin (01-2822182) – Saturdays, 10am to noon.