In 1985 I obtained a butcher’s apprenticeship and began my career at SuperQuinn, Finglas followed by Cosgraves Butchers, North Side Shopping centre, Dublin. I worked in Boston at Edwards Butchers before returning home in the early nineties to run the family business.
passed from generations
My father Pete learnt his trade from his Uncles, Mick and Denis in Cork. A native of Sneem, he opened the shop in North Square in 1958, where he also operated as a Wool Merchant. The buying and selling of wool is a natural by-product of the trade and is a tradition I continue today. Pete married shortly after opening the shop, and a production team of seven children soon followed. As soon as you threw the rattle away, you were quickly handed a knife.
In 1985 I traveled to Dublin to gain accredited qualifications in butchery with The College of Marketing and Design, Mount Joy Square. I obtained a butcher’s apprenticeship and began my career at SuperQuinn, Finglas, followed by Cosgraves Butchers, North Side Shopping centre, Dublin. I also worked in Edwards Butchers, Dorchester, Boston Massachusetts before returning home in the early nineties to run the family business. My father always sourced his stock locally, and I earned a lifetime of experience travelling the length and breadth of Kerry in search of the best stock for the shop. I continue to personally select all the stock that comes through our abattoir.
Sneem Black pudding is a great tradition locally. My father’s black pudding recipe was quickly tailored by my mother after he got married. Under my mother’s auspicious eye, I have tweaked the recipe over the years. It has gained a national reputation, and alongside selling our sneem black pudding in our shop we supply to butchers’ shops, restaurants and hotels across Ireland.
When I was approached by Michael Gleeson regarding European status for Sneem Black Pudding, it was an opportunity not to be missed. It is recognition of a quality product being produced exclusively by two butchers in Sneem, myself and Kieran Burns. Kieran, like myself, has continued his family’s butcher tradition and neither of us would have achieved the European PGI (Protected Geographic Indication) status without the other.
Having two quality products has enabled us to reach twice as many people as we would have on our own. We each have our own stamp on Sneem Black Pudding, as any family would have years ago, but we both source quality ingredients and stick to a traditional method passed down for generations in the making of the pudding.
My mother can still be seen at the shop keeping an eye on things and my brother Michael continues to work with me in the production area. Pál, a native of Hungary, works in the shop with me. He has been with us for five years. He has shown great enthusiasm for learning the trade and has a very keen culinary eye. Pál had extremely big shoes to fill in replacing Greg who was with us for over fourteen years, and a favourite of many customers. Greg returned to Poland in 2018 to be with his family and was a great loss to the shop.
These days the rattle cannot be so quickly replaced with the knife, but all my children are enthusiastic promotors of the shop. My wife Sheena keeps the show ticking over in the background and I keep my hand in everything else.