If there’s one thing the Gildeas know about it’s their meat – and that’s because it is THEIR meat!
Because if there’s a secret ingredient as to why people continue to return to The Friendly Meat Shop in Letterkenny, it is because they know where the produce comes form – the Gildea’s own farm.
As people across Donegal continue to spread the message about shopping locally this Christmas, butcher Paddy Gildea is hoping they’ll also shop locally with their friendly butcher for truly premium quality beef.
Paddy certainly knows a thing or two about products of distinction and the meat bought in the Friendly Meat Shop he now runs with son Lee and popular butcher Cathal McFadden can’t come any more local.
“Customers are very conscious these days about where their food comes from and we often hear people talking about food that comes from farm to fork. That’s exactly what they get when they buy their meat from us.
“It’s not just a case of us saying that we know who the farmers are who raised the beef that we sell. We are the farmers and we raise our own animals so our customers really are getting a product that comes from farm to fork,” Paddy explained.
The secret to the superb quality, says Lee, comes in the hanging of the beef from animals they have slaughtered weekly at Edenmore Meats in Lifford and delivered then to their Friendly Meat Shop in Letterkenny.
“There is a continuous cycle now of our own beef coming in fresh to the shop. It is then aged perfectly before it is presented to the customers as a product of excellence.”
Lee maintained that the skills and experience his father and Cathal McFadden have amassed over the years are a source of great comfort to customers who feel reassured by the knowledge and expertise they have.
“Many of the customers know my father from his previous store, his mobile butchers and indeed know Cathal too when he worked with my father in SuperValu.”
But, he adds, even new customers are always impressed to see the butchers working on their own meat in store
“We are very much a traditional butcher shop with skilled craftsmen who can be seen boning and cutting our own beef in store. People realise then they are not being presented with something produced in a factory and they understand that, not only do we know the art of butchery, we also truly appreciate what it is to produce really good food.”
Paddy says their commitment to quality is such that they will only deal with people supplying the store who can deliver to the same high standards.
“As well as our own beef we also use our farmland at Correnagh and Manorcunningham to raise lambs while our turkeys for instance will come only from Noone’s in Clonmany because we know that they too produce a top-quality product.”
Having taken over the Friendly Meat Shop across from the old Dunne’s Stores just over three years ago, the Gildeas say they hope Donegal people are really genuine in their commitment to supporting smaller local businesses.
“We are situated in a part of the town that has a small village-type community and small businesses that share many customers. We have a corner shop, vegetable and fish stalls, a chemist, our butcher store, a newspaper office, hotel, café and insurance office etc.
There has been lots of people talking on social media and other outlets about supporting local business over the past few weeks in the run up to Christmas. I hope they really do that, in the knowledge that not only will they be supporting local jobs, but also that they’ll be guaranteed excellent produce like our very own farm to fork beef,” Paddy concluded.