Two great artisan butchers in Cork city are closing down due to retirement. Photo: Madie Hamilton

Is it the end of an era in Cork city??

Cork city is changing and I am not sure I am ready yet or will ever be.

First, Bresnan’s Butchers ceased trading a few months ago and now the O’Flynn brothers have followed suit. When I read the notice in the window that the two brothers are retiring I was devastated.

Now to be honest, I haven’t been in the shop since the first lockdown but knowing they were there when I needed them was a big comfort. I have been buying meat from O’Flynn’s for more than 20 years – especially when I planned a dinner party, the meat was always from the butcher in Marlboro Street.

The two brothers (I never figured out who is who) always laughed when they saw me as I had always weird requests of cuts etc. But never did I feel laughed at or ridiculed. Instead they advised me on cooking methods to get the best out of the meat and not once were they wrong.

When I was looking for ox cheeks a few years ago, they directed me to Bresnan’s in the English Market and since then, I always bought meat between the two butchers (Bresnan’s had unusual cuts like beef heart, ox cheeks etc – a few years ago, these were unusual) and I remember the look on Mr Bresnan Sr’s face when I told him that I am going to feed my friends the ox cheeks rather than the dog – we discussed the cooking methods in detail back then.

You can’t get these chats, tips and advice in any supermarket by staff that has never been trained properly.

As much as I understand their desire for retirement, I will miss them terribly. It is a pity that the next generation hasn’t taken over to continue the tradition of serving the best meat to Corkonians.

I loved the cookbook in the window with the pages regularly turned to reveal a new recipe to give inspiration before you entered the shop.

I even took my mum and she loved the cheeky grin of the brothers and she was delighted when she saw that they had kassler on offer (German cured pork – we loved it and was one of the things my mum missed from Germany when she moved to Cork).

I wish the O’Flynn brothers a wonderful and long retirement and hope they enjoy every minute of it.

But I am also very concerned that we are losing these qualified craft butchers and that we are stuck with meat that has been processed in a factory rather than a good old-fashioned abattoir where people actually know what they are doing and butcher shops where you can get tips on different cuts and where the meat can be cut to your requirements.

Let’s hope that the butcher shop is not getting turned into another cheap knick-knack shop but that some hidden super craft butcher is continuing the tradition of the O’Flynns and Bresnans of the good old days.