A History of St. George’s Market

Stock Kitchen and Bar at St. Georges Market Belfast

Throughout the generations, Belfast’s market quarter has offered itself as a hub for local craft and trade, with St. George’s Market standing as one of the oldest and most iconic markets on the island of Ireland. Stock Kitchen is now proud to call this institution its home.


A History of St. George’s Market

Home to some of Belfast’s finest artists, chefs and budding entrepreneurs, St. George’s is the last Victorian covered market still existing in modern day Belfast. Based on May Street by the banks of the River Lagan, the building as we now recognise it was commissioned and built by the Belfast Corporation (now Belfast City Council), before being built in a series of phases before its 1896 completion. 

The stalls of Belfast’s market quarter existed long before the current St. George’s site, however. From 1604 a market operated on the location of the current building, solidifying Belfast’s reputation as a centre of trade and industry. During this period the market would have contained a slaughterhouse and meat market.

The current Victorian red brick and glass building enjoyed by traders today came after a £4.3 million renovation project in the mid-1990s, bringing the building and its activity back to life. Today, live music and a mouthwatering array of sights and smells fill the market, as tourists mingle with locals in one of Northern Ireland’s most-visited attractions.

The home of Stock Kitchen has been gradually developed over the centuries, with each new addition and improvement nodding towards a different chapter in Belfast’s vibrant food history. Construction efforts in 1890 saw the development of a much larger structure designed by architect JC Bretland, who ordered the market to be built in red brick with sandstone dressings. 

Opening to the public in June of that year, the outside trims of the building feature Roman-style arches with both Latin and Irish inscriptions. These include Belfast’s traditional Latin motto, ‘Pro Tanto Quid Retribuamus’ (‘What Shall We Give in Return for so Much?’) and the Gaelic phrase ‘Lámh Dearg na hÉireann’ (‘Red Hand of Ireland’). Both inscriptions and arches are clearly visible today, and have been the focus of restoration and maintenance efforts throughout the decades.


Local Excellence and Fresh Produce 

Since the market’s earliest days and up until the present, St. George’s Market has been celebrated in Ireland and across the British Isles for its fresh, local produce and welcoming sense of community. Awards and recognitions granted to the Market over the years include the UK’s Best Large Indoor Market 2019 by the NABMA Great British Market Awards, the Nation’s Favourite Heritage Project Award in the 2014 National Lottery Awards and more in previous years. The Market won Best Large Indoor Market 2014 and was recognised as one of the UK’s top five markets by the National Association of British Market Authorities in 2006, as well as winning third place in the best markets category of the Observer Food Monthly/Waitrose Awards in 2004.

In the present day, St. George’s Market is host to three market events: the weekly Friday Variety Market, the City Food and Craft Market (Saturdays) and the popular Sunday Market. However, the space has played host to more than market fairs and food stalls: St. George’s Market has offered itself as one of the country’s leading venues for events, making it a hub for culture and live music. Notable events include the World Irish Dancing Championships, as well as performances from Deep Purple, Kasabian and Newton Faulkner.

Visitors to Stock Kitchen can enjoy the surrounding market, where 250 stalls fill the venue every Saturday and Sunday, offering a huge range of local and international produce including fresh fish, vegetables, paella, vintage cheeses and cold meats. For the keen collectors and history lovers, the market also offers a vast selection of political and military memorabilia, vintage clothing, paintings, sculptures, jewellery and antiques. The Market’s fish section alone contains 23 fish stalls – a must visit for lovers of seafood. Indeed, a visit to St. George’s Market offers insights into one of Belfast’s most colourful and vibrant trading hubs.

St. George’s Market is one of Belfast’s best-connected attractions. Visitors can take advantage of a free shuttle bus which departs every 20 minutes from the City Centre (see stops on the junction of Donegal Place and Castle Place). This transport service is available from 8am every Friday and Saturday.

As one of the leading purveyors of the finest local and international produce, Stock Kitchen are proud to call Belfast’s historic St. George’s Market home. Visit our restaurant to enjoy a range of dishes inspired by classic recipes, or visit our neighbouring whiskey tasting room to sample some of the finest whiskeys on the island of Ireland. Booking is recommended!


To view our menus or to make a booking, contact us or visit our website.

[email protected] or 028 9024 0014

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