25 years on: the craft market that was nearly a carpark

The Buttermarket area of Enniskillen gkfh17

The Buttermarket area of Enniskillen gkfh17

ENNISKILLEN’S Craft and Design Centre, better known as the historic Buttermarket, is celebrating an important milestone in its existence today (Wednesday).
Originally opened around 1835 for the buying and selling of local dairy produce — the Buttermarket commenced another chapter in its history on Saturday, June 1st 1991 when, completely restored and renovated, its doors were re-opened to reveal a £680,000 Craft and Design Centre for the town.
The building, which in more recent years had housed a builder’s yard, was earmarked for demolition in the early 1980s for car parking space. It was saved thanks to intervention by the then Fermanagh District Council, which recognised the value and potential of one of the oldest buildings in Enniskillen and stepped in to purchase the property. 
At that time there was a need for a central focus for a thriving craft industry in Fermanagh and the Buttermarket was seen as the perfect site for such a development. After successfully accessing appropriate grant aid from the European Regional Development Fund, the buildings were tastefully and sympathetically restored. The original central market area, which would have housed carts and stalls, was enclosed to provide an extensive craft shop and coffee shop. The many attractive and historically important original features including old beams, brackets, flooring and a cart weighbridge were retained while the cobbled courtyard was reinstated to its full glory.
The new centre was aimed at providing opportunities for young people who wanted to use their talent in establishing a viable craft business and to play a part in encouraging the development of a crafts industry throughout the whole area.
The Buttermarket initially housed 16 work units for craft workers and designers to undertake their own specialist work.
Now 25 years on, it comprises 21 craft workshops where visitors can watch the experts at work and indeed purchase a momento of their visit to take home. The Buttermarket continues to provides tourist with the chance to get away from the hustle and bustle and relax for a time in pleasant pedestranised surrounds. 
The Buttermarket is managed by Fermanagh Enterprise and manager John Treacy is delighted with its success to date: “The 25 years have gone so fast and during that time the Buttermarket has developed and matured as an essential visitor experience for tourists and locals alike in Fermanagh. Since opening the Centre has almost always enjoyed 100% occupancy. We believe that such is the variety, ability and quality of artists and craft workers that the Buttermarket is unique in Ireland and among the best craft centres in Europe,” he told the Herald this week.  

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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