Cabra Craftsmen – Buthers
Since it formation over eighty years ago Cabra like all urban areas had its fair share of craft people and families.
(Pictured above, Dublin Meat Packers Factory Ballymun 1972-73. Back Row – J. Tygn, C McGurk, P Gorman, A. Hogan (RiP), C. Quinn**, N.Mc Cabe (RiP)**, M.Martin. Front Row - B. Geoghan**, W.Higgin, T.Corrigan, J. Findlay**, E. Knowles**, G.Dodrill**, N.Dodrill, R. Ward**, N. Findlay**, B. Marshal, L. Edmonds. The ** denotes people from Cabra.)
Over a chat in the club house one Saturday evening with Richard ‘Champer’ Ward the subject of the craft of butchering and its connection with Cabra was discussed. Having worked in the butchering game from a very young age been apprentice to his father in a butchers shop in Moor Street ‘Champer’ had good detail knowledge of most of the family butchers from the Cabra area.
Families like the Quinn’s, Le Strange, De Monge, Wards, Finley’s, Knowles, Byrnes, Kearney’s, Doddrill and Henshaw all work locally and in the city of Dublin over many generations. Some worked in the Abettor on the North Circular Road while others worked in small and large butchering operations all over the city.
Like all crafts and trades most were closed shops were the trade was handed down to sons from fathers. You served four years at the trade before you came out of your time. The first year, you were shown the general ropes and tools of the trade. Second year you had to butcher four sheep. In the third year you had to butcher a beast and four sheep. Champer served his time in the Central meat market in Moor Street and moved to Joe Dwyer’s butcher shop in Wexford Street.
The butcher shops he remembers in Cabra in the fifties and sixties were Hunts, Mc Gee, Hogan, Farrelly, Steins. Butchering changed in the mid seventies with the advent of supermarkets and the opening up of all crafts and trades to everyone. Many families in Cabra were fed by these men in the lean times of the forty’s and fifties.
Great friendships and relationships grew amongst these families and they were a central part of Cabra as it evolved as a community. Many great stories were told about many happening at the Abettors and shops among the workers.
Buller Byrne and young Leo Lalor in action on the butchers floor. Early 70s.
One such story concerned a special breed of cow which was brought to the factory to get ready for the Dublin Agricultural show in Dublin. They were left over night to be cleaned and got ready for the show. When the Butchers arrive in the morning time to do the killing of the ordinary cattle word was left to kill all the cattle there. The Boss man never left word or mention to any one about the special cattle. All the cattle was killed that morning and when the boss man came back he went berserk over the special cattle been killed.
Champer said it was hard work but the rewards in money and friendships were great. Like many trades with the advent of machines and different working conditions, times changed drastically for the butchers. Yet part of the trade is still with us as can be seen in the butcher shops which still operate in Cabra.
Etherson on the Cabra road, Kearney’s on Faussaugh Ave, Wards on Faussaugh Ave and O ‘onnors on Imall road. As long as people eat meat there will be a roll for butchers in society.