The Butcher Shop
Our story begins in the 1800s in Philip Harrington’s butcher shop in Sovereign Street Clonakilty. Johanna O’Brien, a farmer’s wife, from Sam’s Cross wanted to subsidise the household income by making black pudding for Harrington’s butcher shop.
The Secret Recipe
When Johanna retired, Philip Harrington continued to make the popular blackpudding. The recipe which included a secret spice mix was faithfully handed down to Philip’s family and for over a century, the blackpudding was made by Dan Harrington, Con O’Callaghan and Paddy Allman.
Not only was our blackpudding sold from the butcher shop it was sent in parcels to Clonakilty people both at home and abroad.
In 1969, the butcher shop was sold as a going concern to Patrick McSweeney. In 1976 the butcher shop which included the black pudding recipe was bought by his nephew Edward Twomey.
Butcher Shop To Farmyard
Edward Twomey Butchers
Edward initially had no interest in making blackpudding when he first took over the butcher shop in 1976 and saw it as a chore more than anything else and even attempted to stop production at one stage. However, the customers did not agree and when Edward saw the demand, he realised it was best to continue making the blackpudding.
It was evident how popular the blackpudding was as people travelled from all over Munster to buy it from the butcher shop, including pensioners who used their free bus passes to travel to Clonakilty from Cork City and beyond to stock up. Edward knew the importance of guarding the secret spice recipe and for this reason, he or his wife Colette, were the only people to mix the spice.
As the customer base extended beyond the local area, it was decided to label the blackpudding. A local sign writer named Tomás Tuipéar was asked to draw a logo for Clonakilty Blackpudding which would incorporate the heritage and the tradition of the blackpudding and include the Harrington name. Maroon and cream were selected as company colours.
A van displaying the new logo was put on the road delivering blackpudding throughout the entire Munster region. By now the new business had out-grown the butcher shop, and the making was moved to Twomey’s farm on the edge of Clonakilty town. Carbery Meats was the name chosen for the business, Carbery being the barony name of the area.
Clonakilty Food Co.
In 1986 Clonakilty white pudding was created which was soon followed by Clonakilty ispíní. These along with the blackpudding and a selection of fresh meats were delivered by the Carbery Meats van. Later the trading name was changed to Clonakilty Food Co.
The Twomey’s wanted to make Clonakilty Blackpudding available to all who wanted it from their local shop. Edward’s personality and belief in the product helped propel Clonakilty Blackpudding to get the recognition it deserved. It wasn’t long before Clonakilty Blackpudding was being mentioned in the press and media.
The Clonakilty Collection
We are always looking for ways to enhance our product range. As the years went by, our product range has expanded to include Clonakilty Whitepudding, Clonakilty Sausages, Clonakilty Rashers and Clonakilty Bacon Joints. Most recently we have added Clonakilty Veggie pudding to the range.
The first national award we received was in 1989 at the Butcher’s Association National Awards with Clonakilty Blackpudding and Clonakilty Whitepudding winning first prize in their respective categories giving them national recognition.
Clonakilty Food Co has won awards in Ireland, the UK and France ever since.
Our awards include Great Taste Awards, Blas na hÉireann, Agribusiness Awards, Free from Food Awards, Ulster Bank Business Achievers, National Irish Food Awards and Commanderie des Fins Goustiers du Duché d’Alençon, to name but a few.
West Cork to the World Stage
Shows and Exhibitions
In the 1980s, Edward and Colette Twomey wanted to share the taste of Clonakilty Blackpudding, Whitepudding and sausages and so a road show began. They attended the Cork Show, Bord Bia cookery nights and the RDS Spring show to name but a few. These shows were used as a platform for consumers to taste their products but they also helped increase awareness of the Clonakilty name, Consumers started to ask for Clonakilty Blackpudding and Whitepudding at their local shops.
One of the big breaks for the business was when the owners of Cromleach Lodge in Sligo served the black pudding to a guest for breakfast. He really liked the pudding and it turned out he was one of the directors for the Quinnsworth chain of supermarkets. After that, everybody wanted in. Superquinn and Dunnes Stores made contact and so it continued until all major supermarkets were stocking the blackpudding. The rest is history!
EXPANSION AT HOME AND ABROAD
In 1992, Clonakilty production was moved to Little Island on the outskirts of Cork City where Clonakilty Food Co. expanded further. In the years that followed, the demand for our products, created by our loyal Irish expat customer base, opened up opportunities in markets abroad and as a result we entered the UK market in 2012. Our blackpudding, whitepudding and sausages are now available in some of the biggest retailers across the UK.
In 2013 Clonakilty Food Co. partnered with a Melbourne butcher, Peter Bouchier with similar values and standards, to manufacture our blackpudding, whitepudding and sausages on our behalf. We distributed our products to independent butchers, delis and Irish shops across the country. In August of 2017, Woolworths, one of Australia’s largest retailers, began selling our black pudding.
Over the years, we have continued to attend shows and exhibitions throughout Ireland, the UK and Australia, excited to share the great taste of Clonakilty products with the world. These include the Ploughing Championships, Taste of Dublin, Bloom, Foodie Festivals, BBC Good Food Shows, Ideal Home Show London, Meatstock Australia and much more.
The Present Day
Back to where it all began
In the 1980s, Edward and Colette Twomey wanted to share the taste of Clonakilty. As business continued to grow, we once again outgrew our production facility. This led to us looking for a suitable site closer to home. The big undertaking was completed when our brand new custom-built production facility was opened in Clonakilty in October 2017. The new production facility also includes administration offices, new product development facilities and distribution.
This was followed by the official opening of our immersive visitor centre in August 2020. The vision for the centre is to immerse visitors in the history and tradition of Clonakilty Blackpudding, to offer them an opportunity to see how it’s made, and to highlight the company’s pride in the town it originates from.
Customers and chefs alike realise the potential of our products and the flexibility they offer. While traditionally served as part of a breakfast, the Clonakilty range can also be a special addition to enhance any starter, salad or main course. Here are a few of our favourite Clonakilty recipes.
Owner, Colette Twomey, has not forgotten her roots and where it all began. Today Clonakilty Food Co is still very much a traditional family business and the butcher shop is still trading at 16 Pearse Street, Clonakilty.
Clonakilty Food Co. will continue to build on the values held by Colette, the team at Clonakilty and their belief in the product. This will be achieved through consistent focus on quality, not forgetting our traditions or roots and remaining loyal to local suppliers.
Today the company continues to grow with a focus on improving and innovating but one thing that will remain untouched is the Clonakilty secret recipe which to this day is only known to Colette Twomey.
Visit the Clonakilty Blackpudding Visitor Centre or the Edward Twomey Butcher Shop below.