Five generations of butchers in Kilfinane


Five generations of butchers in Kilfinane

“It’s a tradition and people tend to do what their parents did. We are very lucky that a traditional roast is still very popular.”

Thursday, 28 February 2013
8:00 AM GMT

For more than 100 years, spanning over five generations, Hennessy Butchers has been part of life in Kilfinane, but Neilus Hennessy said that there have been a lot of changes.

He explained that there is a lot more preparation work now, as people want to come in and pick something from the display, instead of waiting around for it to be cut.

"When I started, everything was cut as people wanted it, now it's all about time and people want to be able to buy something and put it into the pan straight away."

He added that it is a new culture and that people want to cut down their own labour at home, by buying something that is fresh and ready to cook from their own butchers.

Speaking about how he got into the business, Neilus said that he was born into it, so it was inevitable that he would one day be running it, adding that it is great to have the continuity of it being family run.

Neilus' grandfather's grandfather ran a nail shop in the 1700s and then in 1850, it became a butchers and Neilus took the reins from his uncle, who took over the shop from his grandfather, who died when Neilus was just a year old. 

He said that everyone who comes into the shop would have known Neilus' uncle or grandfather who stood behind the counter before him and it is great to have that family connection in the business down through the years.

Neilus and his wife Deirdre have four daughters and one day when one of his daughters was helping out, one customer told him that she had now been served by four generations of the same family.

Gerry O'Sullivan has also been working with Neilus for the past seven years and Neilus said that it is important for people to recognise the familiar faces when they come in, as the butchers acts as a place where people can socialise and congregate and he said that a lot of people will still shop very traditionally, buying their meat for dinner, fresh on the day.

Neilus explained that while many of their customers are older, a lot of younger people come into them when they move back to the area with their own families, because this is where their parents got their meat and it is what is familiar and homely to them.

"It's a tradition and people tend to do what their parents did. We are very lucky that a traditional roast is still very popular."

He added that when people go into them, it is not just about picking up meat and guessing how to cook it, they can ask advice or get the right amounts for the number of people they are cooking for and there is that level of personal care and expert advice.

Neilus also displays the name and address of the farmer, where this week's meat came from on a board behind the counter, so people can see exactly who they are supporting by buying the meat in there and he gets the animals slaughtered in John Finn's in Mitchelstown, so there is great traceability there.

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