Celtic cuisine may have moved on from ‘meat and two veg’, but meat is still front and centre in most Irish palettes. Luckily, Dublin is full of quality butchers, from the traditional traders of the inner city to craft butchers in suburban gourmet outposts, where discerning carnivores can get their meat fix.
Though definitely not the only butcher on Moore Street, FX Buckley might be its most beloved mainstay. Expect to queue for a while, but time in line is a glimpse into the local trader experience this street used to be so well known for. Friendly, knowledgeable and refreshingly familiar staff help customers find the perfect cut ranging from premium grass-fed quality-assured beef to cheaper traditional delicacies that are getting harder to find in Ireland (such as pig trotters and ox-tail). Buckley’s offerings are split between this comprehensively stocked butcher shop and a smaller section primarily selling pre-packaged food – their breakfast packs, bulging with salty morning treats and free-range eggs, are incredibly good value at €5.
Ennis Butcher branding | Courtesy of Aad Design & Communication
Across the river in Rialto, Ennis Butchers’ focus on provenance and quality has earned them a strong and loyal following far beyond this Southside neighbourhood. Second-generation butcher Derek Bolger offers a wide range of prepared cuts to shortcut meal-prep, like pork blocks dry-rubbed with chilli and maple for weeknight treats or racks of Irish lamb seasoned with French garlic for special occasions. Carefully sourcing goods from small providers around Ireland and the world, this little gem of a shop has diversified out of just meat by adding organic vegetables, expertly edited wine picks, organic smoked salmon and other delicacies, rounding out the indulgent feel. They’ll soon be opening another location on Leonard’s Corner.
Keen on becoming an amateur butcher, or want to brush up on knife skills? Pat Whelan and his master butchers can help. Pat is the fifth generation of the family-run James Whelan Butchers, originally established in Clonmel, County Tipperary but now with several bricks-and-mortar shops in the capital. The location at foodie-heaven Avoca Food Market in Rathcoole offers evening workshops, starting out with ‘knife-play’, moving through skills to choosing and preparing the best cuts of pork, beef and chicken and rounding out the evening with drinks and (meaty) nibbles. Still prefer to outsource chopping? Whelan also stocks a wide range of premium cuts of specialty beef reared on the family farm. As well as in Rathcoole, shops can be found at the Avoca in Monkstown and some Dunnes department stores.
Carni-voyeurs are in for a treat at Higgins‘ in Sutton, where customers can take a peek through large-scale picture windows into the ‘dry ageing room’ in the back of this beautifully designed space. Once they’ve whet their appetite, there is something to tempt every type of meat lover: house-made sausages and smoked bacon, wild Irish game, pre-prepared meals and locally made pies with Higgins’ own meats and a ‘charcuterie chamber’ full of perfectly-seasoned goodies to top it all off. The store-front also houses Il Valentino bakery and cafe, so make the visit a leisurely weekend affair.
Northside certified craft butcher Kerrigans has been trading out of their Donaghmede Shopping Centre store since Brendan Kerrigan first set up shop in 1973. Over 40 years later, he and his two sons have won several hard-fought butchering industry awards, such as the Best Shop in Dublin North East by the Associated Craft Butcher of Ireland. Now with three locations across the county – having added an outlet in Malahide and in Baldoyle – Kerrigans remains one of Dublin’s most trusted butchers in terms of quality and is working hard to cater to evolving tastes, by adding lower-fat and gluten free options.