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Through the generations: from a family business to an online artisan brand


The recent renaissance in Ireland’s food culture has placed a new spotlight on the integrity and importance of local family-run generational businesses across the country.

As Irish consumers focus on provenance and look to source local, seasonal food, businesses like the fifth-generation butchers McCarthy’s of Kanturk, Co. Cork have strongly come to the fore. 

So how has this family built and driven its business through the generations and moved from becoming a trusted local brand to becoming known nationally and internationally as a premier online artisan retailer and one of the most celebrated and respected butchers in Ireland?

The ‘Ford Business Stories’ series profiles innovative, successful Irish business leaders, delving deeper into their stories and the sources of their inspiration and hearing how they travel through life.  The series also showcases the Ford Mondeo Vignale and ‘the drive for perfection’. 

Just as the award-winning McCarthy’s of Kanturk is a generational, evolving business, so is Ford. Bill Ford, the executive chairman of Ford is Henry Ford’s great-grandson. Turning a family business in to a long-term success takes talent, commitment and passion.  It also takes constant reflection, innovation and reinvention.  Since 1892, McCarthy Butchers have been trading in Kanturk and their enthusiasm is as strong as ever!

Kevin Dundon, celebrity chef, restaurateur and Ford ambassador travelled to Kanturk to meet with Tim McCarthy and find out how he and his family run their business.

Tim McCarthy is the fifth generation to work out of this bustling little shop in Kanturk and is a previous winner of the Good Food Ireland’s Next Generation Award. The traditional butcher’s shop is hung with old-fashioned cuts of well-matured meat but alongside those, there are now award-winning continental style cured meats too, all made on the premises to recipes devised by these innovative Irish butchers.  Home-cured bacon is also a speciality at McCarthys with joints and rashers salted in-house and made from local pork.

McCarthy’s has now become a destination for local chefs and evolved in to a noteworthy Online Artisan Butcher, offering outdoor reared pork, beef, lamb, speciality cured bacon and poultry proving equally popular.  Products are available for delivery throughout Ireland and McCarthy’s now use their shop to run popular courses for chefs. 

Constantly innovating, McCarthy’s Bramley Apple Pork sausages, as featured on Donal Skehan’s Kitchen Heroes on RTÉ won the Best in Ireland 2015 in the recent Blás na hÉireann Awards.

On Future-Proofing a Family Business

Tim’s philosophy on working in a family business with a legacy is that “you never really own a a business, you are just a custodian for the next generation”  On the biggest lessons he has ever learned, Tim points out that he has had “a lot of little learning curves along the way.  A lot of it would be in-house as it’s a family business.  You learn a lot by adapting, by innovating.”

On Time Management / Balance

Newly married with a young daughter, Tim starts his day by going to the gym in the morning and doing Cross-Fit.  “Trying to find time outside of work would be the balance. You have to have a work-life balance.  If you schedule your time and you see a gap – just go for it!”

On How He Defines Success

“If you’re not getting pleasure out of it – then you’re in the wrong game. 

If you’re just going through the motions – do something else.”  He points out that the heritage of McCarthy’s of Kanturk goes back to the 1870’s which is only 30 years after the Famine. “Those people handed the business on in a better position” says Tim.

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