Michael’s Mad About Meat

meatMichael Byrne of Michael Byrne & Sons butchers at 92 Sandymount Road, gave me a tour of the new facilities in the shop when I met him recently. Michael started work at a butchers and dairy in Sandymount called Hayden’s on Claremount Road, where the Tax Office is now.

He began as a delivery boy when he was only 12 years of age. When he turned 14 he began working with a well-known Butcher called Jack Shaw, a nice man and a great character from Co. Meath, who used to own the shop that Michael owns now. Michael managed the shop for three years after Jack Shaw died and then took over the shop 32 years ago. Next March Michael will be 52 years working in the shop.

Michael got placed on an apprenticeship in what is now known as the DIT in Mountjoy Square. The course included all the butchering skills but he also had to learn to slaughter the animals. The days of Dublin butchers killing their own animals are well gone. Michael showed me the laneway where they used to bring in the cattle and the lambs to the slaughterhouse at the back of the shop. You can still see the marks where he would slam the captive bolt pistol on the wall to knock out the cartridge so they could reload it.

Some of you may remember seeing Michael bringing three or four cattle and 12 to 15 lambs a day into the back of his shop up until around 15 to 20 years ago. Today, all the slaughtering is done in the country and Michael gets all his best meat brought up from Co. Carlow. Michael says that butchering has really changed over the years.

Around seven years ago, Michael and his two sons did a big job developing the whole shop and they decided to put in a fresh fish counter. Over the last eight years they have been developing a new range of dry-cured ham in the shop with less than 2% salt, no added water, no preservatives and very little sugar. At present, it is the only one of its kind on the market. It takes around two weeks to go from start to finish, making it an excellent homemade product.

Michael said that the ham is very popular with parents who want to reduce salt in their children’s diet. I also met up with Raymond who is Michael’s son who was in charge of making the new range of sausages.

Opening hours for the shop are Monday – Thursday 7:30 am – 7:00 pm; Friday 7:30 am – 8:00 pm; Saturday 7:30 am – 6:00 pm.
Telephone: 6602827.

By Jason McDonnell