Home to the likes of world-renowned butter producer Kerry Gold, Kerry’s largest industry has long been farming. For all the tourist trade that’s arrived in recent years, it’s the farmers and the fruits of their labours in this wind-battered corner of Ireland that are its true economic heart. Markets are a real chance to cut out the middlemen, and many entrepreneurial types have been selling direct to the public to up their profit margin. That means fresh, hyper-local and enticing cuisine that truly represents the county, and the odd crafty extra, too. Plan your trips carefully: many of these markets open for only a few hours a week. Dig in…
Milltown Food Market and Organic Food Centre
Market, Shop, Store
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A combination of a regular store and a market, the Organic Food Store runs all week, and adds a farmers’ market for their Saturday hours. The market allows local farmers to sell their fresh-from-the-field wares and is well worth a visit, but you’ll find plenty during the week too. The shop itself sells a broad range of health food and interesting local products, including chocolate, honey, jewellery, cooking books, soap and candles. Open Monday-Friday 10am-6pm, and Saturday 10am-3pm.
As you explore these farm-led market offerings, you’ll quickly note that you have to be quite careful about arriving when they’re actually open. Kerry’s capital is not large enough to justify a full-time market, and this weekly pop-up on Scott Street (Friday, 10am-2pm) is small enough not to have been too overridden with the town’s intense tourist-leaning feel. It’s mostly fruit and veg, but also a good stop-off for lunch, with flowers, clothes and plenty of fancy coffee on sale too.
A bustling indoor spot that’s become known for its high-quality, foodie-leaning produce, Sneem’s short Tuesday market (11am-4pm, summer and Christmas only) is a hyper-local, high-end organic style market. This spot has developed a reputation for quality. It’s mainly vegetables, but you’ll also be able to dig out some fantastic cheese, meats, eggs and the occasional pie.
The longest running Kerry market, Listowel’s offering is very much local, small-producer focused, selling a range of products taken mainly from the region’s abundance of farms. Taking place in the town’s market square, it has gone a little upmarket in some corners in recent years: you can now buy artisan chocolate, ready-to-eat fish, crepes and farmhouse cheeses as well as the vegetables that have always been on offer, making the farmer’s market a nice lunch stop-off. It runs on Fridays, 9am-2pm.
A Saturday afternoon outing in one of Kerry’s few major population centres, the Tralee Farmer’s Market (10am-2.30pm, Saturdays only) has branched out from a typical direct-to-seller food offering to include a selection of crafts and the occasional bit of music, too. Expect to find crepes, meat pies, hand-pressed juices, sushi, pottery and seaweed used for traditional cures.
The port town of Dingle’s market is (perhaps inevitably) a mix of surf and turf, with many store holders exhibiting either their veg or the produce of the nearby Atlantic. The Friday (9am-3pm) gathering also has a great community angle, in that it dedicates a stall to a rotation of charities, giving them a chance to raise funds. You can also grab plenty of treats, like fudge, soft toys, Aran sweaters, personalised signs, cupcakes and beauty products.