Donna Ahern talks to Seán Kelly, director, Kelly’s Butchers, in Newport, Co. Mayo.
Can you tell me about your company?
Kelly’s Butchers is a well-established artisan butcher’s shop in Newport, Co. Mayo, which specialises in traditional black and white puddings and sausages that are available nationally, under the Kelly’s brand.
We are located on the Greenway cycle trail, and we are proud members of the Gourmet Greenway.
Kelly’s motto is, ‘We manufacture up to a standard, not down to a price,’ and we hold fast to that in everything we do.
For almost a century, the business has flourished and expanded, and now encompasses a butcher’s shop with an extensive grocery and gift section, a thriving cafe next door, and a state-of-the-art manufacturing and production area nearby. We have our own abattoir with an EU licence, and we are true artisan butchers, who deal with every aspect of butchering.
How would you describe your role?
Chief cook and bottle-washer.
What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?
My life as a butcher began early. I joined my father behind the counter when I was about six years old and began my apprenticeship then.
What do you enjoy most about your current job?
Interacting with people.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Still doing what I love.
What do you think that the government could do to help business in the current climate?
Listen to what Irish people have to say, as well as listening to Europe all the time.
What three business people do you most admire, and why?
Ted Carty, of Oliver Carty’s in Athlone, who has built up a remarkable business.
Oliver Carty & Family is one of Ireland’s largest added-value meat suppliers and prides itself on offering top-quality, award-winning retailer and branded products in Ireland, Europe, and the Middle East.
Next, my father – and the founder of Kelly’s Butchers – who had true generosity of spirit and didn’t know how to say no.
Finally, Mary Gleeson – Gleesons of Roscommon – for building a business from scratch at a very challenging time. She lovingly transformed a historic building into a successful family-run townhouse, restaurant and cafe.
What was your favourite grocery brand when you were growing up, and why?
Kellogg’s Corn Flakes – because I could make that dish myself!
Who would come to your ideal dinner party (living or dead)?
Brendan Grace, my wife, Kathleen, Mel Gibson, and Walter J. Curley, who was the 57th United States Ambassador to France, from 1989 to 1993, and the US Ambassador to Ireland from 1975 to 1977.
What is the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received?
‘Stick to what you know.’ It was my father’s advice to me many years ago, and it is still sound advice for anyone in business. Use your expertise and knowledge as a solid basis for your business. Probe potential, push boundaries, seek opportunities and explore possibilities, but remain centred on your core strengths.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Deep-sea fishing and farming.
How much time do you spend on social media in an average week?
Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn?
With which fictional character do you most identify?
Captain Kirk from Star Trek because I steer the ship.
Most likely to say?
Of course we can do it.
Least likely to say?
I’m in bad humour today.