Unbeknownst to me, my butchery training with my father, Dairmuid, began about as soon as I could walk. Rural Ireland in the 1970s was wonderful but rough. The family abattoir was, literally within spitting distance of the house kitchen and it bore absolutely no resemblance to the clinical modern version of a slaughterhouse, which is not to say that it was worse. In fact, despite its massive 19th-century granite walls and flag stone floor, I believe it was superior.
Animals were dispatched in the cooler evenings when Dad and his men were finished their day jobs at the shop or otherwise. The throughput was tiny compared to modern killing houses, but because of this the animals were calm and didn’t know what was happening until the sobering deed was done. I learned early that this was THE most important link in the chain, as a stressed or upset animal produces bad, or what we called then ‘dark cutting’, meat, which modern factory production often disguises in canned meat products such as corned beef.