Butchery is an old industry, one that often runs in the family. In the case of Irish butcher Michael McGrath, it’s been the family trade for some 400 years. And, by the looks of it, butchery will likely remain a family affair for generations to come.
The latest video from The Perennial Plate showcases McGraths of Lismore, a traditional butcher shop that’s been in business since the 1600s. Today, it’s run by Michael, who says in the video he’s been “cutting these slabs” since the age of 12.
The fifth-generation butcher isn’t the only McGrath still in the business. His wife, Mary, does a little bit of everything — including accounting, packaging meats, and generally ensuring the place stays clean. His son John is, unsurprisingly, also part of the business and says he’s been holding a knife since the moment he could pick one up.
For the McGrath family, work and home life aren’t exactly balanced. In fact, the couple lives directly above the shop and also presides over a farm and an abattoir (i.e. a slaughterhouse). Here, farm-to-table is very much a literal phrase: As Michael describes in the video, customers are free to visit the farm, select a cow, and he will kill it and cut it to their specifications.
“My family are in the trade since the 1600s — well, we can trace it back as far as the 1600s,” says John. “But even in the premises here, we’ve been here since the 1890s. A legacy like that, you can’t leave it to die.”
• The Butcher Shop [The Perennial Plate/Vimeo]
• The Meat Show [E]
• All Video Interludes [E]