It’s no wonder that St George’s market in Belfast has been voted one of the top markets in the UK. It’s deep red Victorian bricks and wrought iron latticework are home to an array of unusual stalls showcasing some truly unique talent. As I wandered through the ancient red arches, I soon lost myself in the hustle and bustle of the market.
The market is a great place to stop off at for breakfast or lunch, especially on a hungover Sunday! Whether you’re looking for an Ulster fry or a Belfast bap, there are quite a few greasy options on offer! It’s not just cooked food on offer here though, for among the artists stalls lies a fresh fishmonger! I was rather taken aback, but I have to say I quite like the really unusual mix of stalls at St. George’s!
This accordion bag was on display among a number of other bizarrely shaped handbags. No matter your taste, there was a handbag for you, from elephants, peacocks and camels to book shaped bags. House of Cards handbag anyone?
The next stall that called out to me was selling a range of smoke fired porcelain horses. Everyone who knows me knows that I love horses, but it wasn’t their ‘horseness’ that called out to me this time. I loved the form of the statues, they looked so elegant, like ballet dancers, and I loved the dappled colours on the soft curves. Sadly they were a little out of my price range!
I couldn’t help but stop at this next stall – I love funny cards and here was a whole rack of beautifully hand drawn cards by Sarah Majury with silly lines.
I especially loved the painting of the Crown Liquor Saloon pub – possibly the prettiest and most atmospheric pub in the world!
While I was busy buying card after card I suddenly heard the bagpipes being played in the market, and then immediately remembered it was Burns Night!
Robert Burns, the Scottish poet was incredibly popular in Northern Ireland, home of a number of Ulster Scots. In the 19th century most families in Belfast would only have two books – the Bible and The Collected Works of Robert Burns! The language and works of Burns resonated strongly with the locals of Northern Ireland and infact they didn’t struggle with his words as many of the Scots words were also used in Ulster.
So in honour of Burns Night, here’s a line from one of my favourites of his poems, A Bottle and a Friend:
Here’s a bottle and an honest friend!
What wad ye wish for mair, man?
Wha kens, before his life may end,
What his share may be o’ care, man?
After admiring the bagpipe player for a while, it was time for us to head out of the market, however we got very distracted by the most delicious looking cheese stall with loads of cheese to taste! The guy who runs the stall is incredibly friendly, and it turns out he used to have a stall in Borough Market in London! After a trying a number of different cheeses, I settled with a very a very local farmhouse cheese washed with mushrooms to coat the rind – subtle but truly delicious.
St George’s market is a very fun little place to while away an hour during your stay in Belfast. I wouldn’t make it the focus of your day, but a lot of sights don’t open till a little later on Sundays for example, so it makes a perfect Sunday morning plan. As I mentioned before, it’s a great place for that Sunday hangover food as well as a good place to buy some really pretty gifts to take home to friends and family. I strongly recommend you don’t leave those for the airport as it’s the smallest airport I’ve ever been to and all their souvenirs are generically Irish!