Farm Ireland

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Doyle's a cut above

Local butchers thriving by providing quality traceable meat

Myles Doyle with his 18-year-old son Stephen in their shop.
Myles Doyle with his 18-year-old son Stephen in their shop.
Myles and Stephen outside the family business.
Siobhan English

Siobhan English

The past decade has been tough on small businesses, but Doyles Butchers have weathered the storm and are thriving in the small village of Dunlavin.

Full-time Wicklow farmer and butcher Myles Doyle admits it has not been easy over the years with the closure of so many local shops, but it is clear he has moved with the times in an era when supermarkets still pose the biggest challenge to small family-run butchers in rural communities.

"We as butchers are continually being hammered by supermarkets but to be honest I have never tried to compete with them over the years. What I have to offer is completely different," he says. "For our loyal customers it's all about being Irish and being 100pc traceable. We are still unique in that we have our own abattoir behind the shop and we supply all our own beef and most of our lamb."

Life as a farmer and butcher, and father to four children - Stephen, Mark, Gavin and Rachael - brings with it long hours seven days a week, but by his own admission Myles is what you would call a workaholic. It is clear that his work ethic has not changed since the early days.

"As a teenager, my father never wanted me to go farming so he sent me off to Dublin to learn the butcher trade with my cousin John Doyle. It was one of the first butchers in the city, on Pearse Street, and it was the best apprenticeship I could have received."

However, after 19 years working in the city, he felt there was more to life than commuting daily from west Wicklow. When the opportunity arose to buy out the butcher shop and abattoir from Ronan McParland in 2003, he was ready to take up the challenge.

"My late father Eugene was still farming outside Dunlavin at the time and so I leased some land from him and bought in livestock. It made perfect sense financially to supply all our own meat to the shop."

Along with his wife Tanya and a small team, which includes his 18-year-old son Stephen, Mr Doyle now operates one of only a few abattoirs left in Wicklow. They also offer deep-freeze services for farmers who have reared their own pigs, lambs and cattle.

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Having reared mostly Limousin and Charolais heifers over the years, 18 months ago Myles made the decision to switch over to Aberdeen Angus and Hereford. "It took a while to make the transition but we have noticed a great difference in the quality of meat." In addition to a herd of some 60 heifers, the Doyles also farm 200 Texel and Suffolk ewes, and are currently in the process of expanding.

Lambing takes place in March and from late summer they supply all their own produce. In the meantime, spring lamb is provided by local farmers Eddie and Robert Storey, whose lambing usually starts just after Christmas. "Again, we have 100pc traceability and the lamb this spring has been very popular and a great seller," Myles says. "Our pork is supplied through Crowes in Dundrum, Co Tipperary, and our chicken products come from Carlow Foods. All our burgers and sausages are homemade.

"Although we are based in a small village surrounded by large supermarkets, we have many regular customers from Dublin.

"We are also very fortunate that the majority of our customers are from the local farming community and they always appreciate good-quality products."

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