When Harry’s went to market...

Donal Doherty (right)

Donal Doherty (right)

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Since September 2012, Saturday mornings have never been the same in Bridgend, just outside Derry.

Harry’s Restaurant have long been passionate about good quality locally produced food and drink but in 2012 they took their passion to a whole new level when they opened their now famous food market.

Homemade fig, cranberry and port chutney from Malin in Inishowen.

Homemade fig, cranberry and port chutney from Malin in Inishowen.

Harry’s Restaurant owner, Donal Doherty, is the man behind the food market and within seconds of chatting to Donal you realise he is passionate about good quality locally produced food.

“We started in September 2012 but the market gained most momentum over the past six months with the addition of our own Greencastle Fresh Fish Stall, Carlan Foods with their vegetarian goods, Marshall’s Farm Dexter beef and a gluten free bakery have also joined the local line-up.

“We added Irish Crafts beers, including the amazing Kinnegar Brewing Beers from Rathmullan which have been a tremendous success,” explained Donal.

Every Saturday morning, food lovers from Derry, Donegal and further a field flock to the market with the hope of picking up fresh fish, meat, vegetables or a tasty treat.

Kemal Scarpello (right) and Brian Gamble from Slow Food Co in Newtowncunningham.

Kemal Scarpello (right) and Brian Gamble from Slow Food Co in Newtowncunningham.

A French food writer visited Harry’s food market recently and when she returned to France she described the local market as one of the most exciting food projects Ireland had to offer.

“The French Food writer Trish Deseine had a leading French food magazine here recently that picked our Saturday market as one of the more exciting food projects in Ireland.We took the journalists up to meet the Dexter cattle in Burt and they were blown away by the new calves and then by the range and quality of the vegetables in our walled garden.

“It’s probably obvious to everyone how much I love being here every week meeting, greeting and serving our market customers so with our first child due in December we joked it would probably arrive during a December Saturday market which is among our busiest! Sure enough the baby chose a Saturday morning to begin labour but then paused long enough allowing me to man the fish stall as normal! Maybe the new baby Ella Rose Doherty will bring about a local baby food stall,” laughed Donal.

The feedback Harry’s and Donal have received has not only been from locals. Several weeks ago a group of women from Queensland in Australia dropped in for some fresh Donegal Town oysters.

Noel Doherty sells vegetables harvested from the Harry's walled garden.

Noel Doherty sells vegetables harvested from the Harry's walled garden.

“The idea of having stalls outside attracts passers-by, especially when the displays look great.

“Recently, a group of Australian ladies saw we were selling oysters outside on the fish stall, pulled up and feasted on Donegal oysters, Rathmullan beer, salads from our own gardens and gurnard from Greencastle.

“They later sent us a card saying it was their best experience of food during their three weeks in Ireland. We are a year round food market though, so that only works if local people visit, and more importantly, enjoy and believe enough that they decide to come back.”

In 2013 Harry’s added a fresh Greencastle fish stall to their weekly food market but 2014 promises to be a year to remember and Donal stated his hopes that the market could help to create a few local jobs.

“We will have more stalls and food products join us in 2014. “The product we are most looking forward to in 2014 is a quality local cheese called Sperrin Blue from Julie & Kevin Hickey’s Dart Mountain Cheese Company.

“Amazingly that will be the first quality cheese from this area in a very long time. We would also support any other producer with a quality new product and hopefully together we can grow a few more jobs around these parts and tempt a few more people out of the supermarkets.”

For up-to-date information on Harry’s Restaurant and Harry’s Food Market search for them on Facebook or check out their Twitter account, which is managed by Donal Doherty: @HarrysDonal