GROWING up over the family shop in Clonmel, Co Tipperary taught Pat Whelan a thing or two about the craft of butchering.
"There's a sense of belonging from an early age and an understanding of the animals behind the business," said Pat, who runs James Whelan Butchers, a fifth generation family business.
Pat has been running the butchers, which sells beef from cattle raised on its own farm, since 1999. The business has outlets in Clonmel and Monkstown, Co Dublin.
"The meat we sell is meat we have slaughtered," said Pat. It is this connection – between the butcher, the produce and the land – which distinguishes his family business from that of a commercial butcher, where machines are usually used to cut meat, according to Pat.
"To be a butcher, you have to be a good stock man," said Pat. "You need to be able to judge an animal in a field to see if it is ready for slaughter. You also need to understand animals and know how to handle them. If you stress an animal, it could have a consequence on the meat. You also need to have the butchering skills to get the most out of a carcass so that commercially it makes sense."
Pat has introduced an online shop, where the meat is delivered to you the next day.