First independent outdoor market in 400 years gets going in Belfast
The first independent weekly outdoor market to be granted a licence in Belfast in 400 years has kicked off in style.
As music played and the sun shone over the city centre yesterday, dulse, soda bread, chocolate and cheese were just some of the tasty treats on sale at the new Folktown Market in Bank Square.
The Thursday market is run by the Folktown Community Interest Company, a social enterprise.
It is run by people from local churches, pubs, restaurants, businesses, youth and arts organisations.
Surrounded by two of Belfast's oldest churches, Mourne Seafood Restaurant and traditional pubs, the square is steeped in character and heritage.
Money from the initiative will help fund regeneration of the area, after the costs of running the market - which runs from 11am to 8pm each week - are met,
Jillian Lowry and Ben Sherwood from Bangor were among the first customers.
"It think it is a good addition to the city," he said.
"It has been a long time coming but hopefully it will be something that is supported and will last."
Jillian said: "I have never been to this area before.
"It's nice - it's on Thursday and runs right up until eight o'clock at night so people working in the city can come along."
Michael Thomson of Mike's Fancy Cheese in Newtownards was busy selling his Young Buck blue cheese to the public.
"It's nice to be part of this," he said.
"We have done really well today. The response has been fantastic."
Mark Douglas from Krazi Baker, specialising in baking at events and markets, was also doing a roaring trade.
"We sell traditional griddle breads," he said.
"Everything is baked here. Best sellers depend on where you are but the soda farl is still alive and well in Belfast, as is potato bread."
Sinn Fein election candidate Gerry Kelly took a break from canvassing to buy lunch at the market.
"I didn't want to ask people for votes while they are eating their burgers - but the thought did cross my mind!" he admitted.
"As usual the first thing I did was go to the food stalls and I thoroughly enjoyed my Cajun chicken burger.
"There is a great crowd and a great variety on offer so I think it will go from strength to strength."
The DUP's Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey said the new market "will bring increased footfall and activity to the Bank Square area and act as a catalyst for the regeneration of this historic part of the city centre".
"Any profit will go back into regenerating this area. We will be doing up some of the shop fronts and that kind of stuff, creating more and animating the space with cultural events. Facebook and Twitter @FolktownMarket is going crazy, which is great."
- Sophie Rasmussen, one of the Folktown Community Interest Company directors