Market Day Portadown

Vol. 3 No. 2 - 1976

Market Day in Portadown

by Kieran Clendinning

For many of the older generation life in the Seventies must indeed be very dull compared to the colourful early days of the present century. Sport then was home-made and one of the main sources of amusement was the local fair or market.

At these markets people certainly had to keep their wits about them. Many an unsuspecting client, half groggy with drink was liable to have a worthless beast or a suit of clothes three sizes too large, palmed on to him by one of the sharp "dalin men".

The making of a deal of course had its own ritual with its hand slapping, "dividing the difference" and luck penny - a small cash return made to the purchaser in a bargain - all con¬ducted on the open street with a crowd of busybodies looking on all madly anxious to hear the bids and haggling.

Second hand

Such a market was Portadown. Every Saturday people flocked to town to deal in fowl, eggs, butter, flesh meat, vegetables, fish pigs, cattle earthenware, haberdashery, and even second-hand clothes.

Luck pennies were always given with animals, harnesses, suits and footwear and many a deal was never clinched due to the stinginess of the dealer.

Every Tuesday, in season at Portadown a market for flax was held with grain on Wednesdays and Saturday. The pork market averaged from 350 to 400 pigs per week and a market for suckling pigs in carts was held on Saturday.

The market places were situated as follows - Pork and grass seed in West Street, pigs on foot and young pigs in carts were at Woodhouse Street. Potatoes, turnips, cabbage, etc. were sold wholesale in Market Street and on the north side of High Street.

On the south side of High Street fruit was sold, and the retail market for potatoes, vegetable etc. was in William Street.

Hay and straw was also sold in High Street and Market Street, and in High Street fish from Lough Neagh and Ardglass was sold on the open street every day.

The market at Portadown was more than a commercial event it was a welcome break from the harsh routine of rural living.

It did not matter whether they were buying and selling or just wandering the streets browsing through the occasional stall, the people must have had a greater sense of participation indeed enjoyment, than the citizens of today when they go