No missed steak- 'Bridge butcher calls time on career
It's the end of an era.
Butlersbridge's Brian McEntee put away his butcher’s knife and apron for the final time at the weekend, closing a career that has stretched back more than three decades.
But before the village victualler shut up shop, dozens of friends, families, neighbours from the local area turned out to wish him and his family well.
The affable Brian, a man known to happily chew the fat with all who passed through the door, found himself unusually "lost for words" by Saturday's heartfelt showing.
"It was emotional," Brian admits, speaking to The Anglo-Celt after calling time on his 34 years serving the local community.
For many, the small family run business has been a main staple of the village diet.
A native of nearby Plush, the only son of Patsy and Kitty McEntee, Brian began working in the meat business as far back as 1974.
He spent time honing his skills at Tunney Meat Packers in Clones, McCarrens in Cavan Town, and later Liffey Meats, before seizing the opportunity to set out on his own.
"We bought the premises in 1987. It was a town house and we done it up and made a business out of it," remembers Brian of the initial stages. "A lot of people said I was crazy [setting up in Butlersbridge]. But we worked hard, and thankfully things took off. The rest, as they say, is history."
Brian's patter as much as his butchering ensured that plenty of prime cuts were served up for Sunday dinner tables throughout the region.
His wife Bernie was just as much a mainstay at the Main Street family run business, while their three children - Adrian, Leona and Gary- also served time behind the counter at various stages. "They've all been a big part of the business," reflects Brian, for whom closing time on Saturday, October 10, was "bittersweet".
"Bittersweet for the fact that I'll no longer be part of [the business], but going out the door knowing it it will be kept on as a butcher shop means I'm really happy."
Brian has been mincing the idea of retirement ever since entertaining a call from a former employee and soon to be incumbent, Robert Mee from Cloverhill.
Robert worked with Brian almost 20 years ago as a fresh-faced 13 year old looking to help out in the evenings. Preparing to move home from Canada, he voiced interest in filling Brian's boots.
"He'll hopefully open up in the next couple of weeks. A lovely young fella, and we wish him the very best of luck with it. Hopefully [the business will] treat his family as well as it did ours."
Asked if Brian will miss anything about his former life, he quickly remarks: "The cups of tea waiting for me out back... and the chat. I'd be known to be hard get away from when I start talking. It was a great meeting place, the shop."
Brian goes on to say he remains "overwhelmed" by the kindness of those who celebrated his retirement with it.
"I got a fantastic send off by all my customers and family and friends. I was overwhelmed by the whole thing really, I still am. I wouldn't be an emotional sort of fella... but it was really. It was emotional. It's definitely something to remember."
Brian and Bernie will now spent the rest of their days doing the things they've always enjoyed most. "We've a few grandkids. I'm sure they'll need looking after at some stage. So we'll be kept busy, there's no doubt about that."