"Cork's Hidden Village"
RTE Radio 1's acclaimed radio documentary series "Documentary on One" recently included a documentary on the English Market, called "Cork's Hidden Village"
"A fabulously witty and charming journey into Cork City's labyrinth that is the English Market - A story that weaves it way through two centuries - overcoming fires, famine, rebellion and war."
Listen to the podcast here
David Young had been living in Cork for six whole years and still hadn't found the heart of the city - or the village that lay concealed between its downtown buildings.
Even though he'd spotted archways and gates inviting him into what appeared little more than a darkened space, a trading place of sorts, he'd fended off his curiosity and kept on his own path.
Then one day, something drew him inside the English Market. And as it did, a casbah opened up before him: vast displays of food and endless countertops; a chattering din and the bustle of shoppers bagging bargains.
There were cheeses, breads, pasta, olives, smoked butter, and even buttered eggs. And there was all the meat and fish you could dream of, some of it dangling overhead.
David brings you into the company of the traders he's gotten to know over the course of one summer to the next. They are the ones who've devoted their lives to manning the stalls, and populating the aisles and passageways of the market.
From early morning drives to the piers of West Cork, to land the best fish to raising buffalo just beyond Macroom, the traders are intensely proud of the lengths they go to ensure they've got the best produce.
Without hesitation they readily recall their own family histories. These personal narratives chart the evolution of the city, and reflect Cork's true identity, as forged by each successive generation.
The name may be ironic, and a vestige of colonial times, but there's no appetite to sweep away history. And so, it remains as a reminder of how Cork has changed - its politics and its culture.
Today the English Market moniker has a cachet all of its own. Over the course of many visits, David meets and gets to know the market's personality: the wit; the graft; the banter; the sheer tenacity to keep a city alive.
And the traders' reward for lifetimes of work? To open their treasure trove of both traditional and exotic fare to the Queen of England, with the world watching on.
As for the English Market's future - it's as secure as the heart of any cosmopolitan and diverse city could be. Solid.
And David Young? Well, you could say he's fallen in love. It's what the place does to you.
Produced and narrated by David Young
Production Supervision by Liam O'Brien
First broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 on Saturday 16th July 2011 @ 2pm
An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One - the home of Irish radio documentaries.