The selling of agricultural produce in the Markethouse came to an end as dairy farming became more profitable and vegetables and other agricultural produce could be mass-produced as sold in specialist shops. The Markethouse was moved to its current location at the bottom of the hill and began trading solely in livestock. A sheep market was opened in July on 1954 and a cattle market commenced the following year. Each Tuesday the mart remains busy as farmers from the locality buy and sell livestock.
Of course the farming industry has suffered over recent years with the influx of foreign competition and the foot and mouth scares. Despite this the farmers of Markethill and district continue to farm the land as has been done in this area for centuries. They work with dedication and resolve in the face of adversity.
Looking around the rest of the town there also we see the dedication to family orientated commerce. There are no chain stores in the town of Markethill, only family owned businesses, some of which are second or third generation owned. Along the wide Main Street there these beautifully kept shops are welcoming and stepping inside a customer will often detect several family members active in the business. It is a sad but accepted fact that most businesses established above the bend in the hill have been unsuccessful. There are of course exceptions but it would seem the wide-open street is more inviting than the turn in the road. It is perhaps that the walk up the hill proves too strenuous or that a person upon reaching the bank discovers their financial balance discourages them from going any further!
The commercial life of the town suffered a blow with the construction of the bypass in 1967. Until then travellers journeyed through the town and could be enticed to stop for a walk around. With the construction of the bypass travellers no longer enter the town, unless with a specific errand in mind.
It is also noticeable that the majority of the shops and businesses in the town are of a specialist nature and therefore do not encourage daily shopping. This is both helpful and unhelpful in nature as people tend to shop where they work, usually in the nearby city of Armagh. However, the specialist shops do attract people from outside the locality adding to the consumer base of the region.
Markethill is certainly not a 'one stop' convenience orientated shopping town. Rather it has refused to bow to the pressures of a modern convenience society and has remained true to the foundations upon which it was established. Markethill has been and remains a family town serving the needs of its local community.
In the accompanying recording, Willie Johnston talks about his connections to the area and about his poultry business.
Use the audio controller to listen to this talk, given in 2003.