Today the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD has announced close on €300,000 in funding to 19 local agri-food tourism projects. Included within this funding is €25,000 allocated to Strandhill People’s Market.
The funding is made available under the 2022 Rural Innovation and Development Fund through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Minister McConalogue said “I am delighted to announce the successful projects which have secured funding in the Agri Food Tourism sector. It is great to be able to support these initiatives in the agri-food tourism sector and build on progress already made. There is a great geographical spread of projects this year which highlights the interest throughout the country. Our 10-year roadmap for the agriculture sector Food Vision 2030, highlights the natural synergy between agri-food and local tourism. I have backed this important sector and I will continue to back it as Minister for our food sector which is our greatest and most important sector.”
“I place a huge emphasis and importance on agri-tourism in rural areas as it allows our great food companies of all sizes to showcase their people, landscape, history and culture through agricultural produce, food and drink and local cuisine.”
“In addition, it provides opportunities for rural businesses, including farmers, producers and artisans, to develop their products and services, connect with the community and visitors and improve skills and best practice”.
Speaking on today’s announcement Allan Mulrooney, one of the market team said. “Today’s funding from Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue is most welcome. It’s important to note that with over 100 traders now on our books, this support from the Department is far reaching and will make a difference as these traders grow and scale in the coming months and years. The market is now in operation just over eight years supporting artisan producers, crafters and artists from across the country. In that time, our team have aspired to evolve both the aesthetics of the market but also weekly operations investing in new equipment, generators, the layout of our stalls and our marketing to drive footfall. Today’s funding will support that drive and our team are now developing new plans to finish the stall layout we started last year, build new tables for our traders, add new branding inside the Hangar and create new marketing content.”
Kieran Mulrooney from Strandhill People’s market commented; “Today is a great day for the market and our traders. We see the weekly event as a key driver of micro -enterprises across the region, helping small businesses to grow and scale. With an average footfall of over 1500 people visiting every Sunday, which grows considerably during peak periods and an average spend per head of €30, we estimate the market generates over €250,000 for the local economy. This is before those visiting stop in the local petrol station, cafe, shop or decide to stay locally. The funding announced will allow us to further develop the offering so that locals and those travelling the Wild Atlantic Way can come together every week while supporting local producers.”
Strandhill People’s Market 2022- 2023 strategy consists of four pillars which when presented to the Department, aligned with their objectives. These include.
- Re-connection within the community.
- Re-connection with the media both local and national.
- Re-connection with our traders and helping them to recover post covid-19.
- Completing the layout and re-build we started in 2020.
The above approach will allow the market to build on it’s success to date but ensure it is supporting the mix of traders, future proofing and upgrading facilities and driving footfall throughout the year. In recent weeks the market has received coverage in The Irish Times, The Irish Independent and a number of online media outlets helping to drive summer footfall. A new collaboration with The local Enterprise office in Sligo has also been launched focused on a number of bespoke training modules including content creation and digital marketing for traders.
What does success look like?
Over the eight years of the market’s operation it has had a direct impact the opening of Sweet Beat Café, Stoked Restaurant, Nook Café, Grow Cafe in Roscommon and others. These businesses are operated by past stall holders who trialed their products in a low risk environment before moving on to open a premises, employing staff and adding to the vibrant local food economy.
For others who trade including crafters, artists and growers, success is quantified by getting products stocked in local shops or building an online store. The most recent addition to this list is Joan Carey, a long standing trader at the market, who in recent weeks opened her own shop in Donegal town selling her handmade clothing, jewelry and Art.
Work on the new stalls, content creation, new tables and other elements are expected to begin work in the coming months.
The market team would like to extend our sincere thanks to Joe Corcoran, Manager at Sligo Airport and his staff for their on-going support and collaboration to make the market a success every week.