Butchers are 'best business in isles'
An Irish butcher business has been named the best rural business in Ireland and Britain.
James Nolan and his wife Emma travelled from Kilcullen, Co Kildare, to the House of Lords at Westminster in London to receive their 'Champion of Champions' prize as best rural business out of more than 30,000 entrants over the past decade.
The Countryside Alliance Awards - known as the Rural Oscars - celebrate businesses and communities that promote rural enterprise and heritage that "go the extra mile" to promote rural life.
Nolan's of Kilcullen, which won the 2012 title of best butcher in Ireland and Britain, were competing against each of the annual overall winners of the past decade.
They emerged as the overall winner and were presented with their award by UK Secretary of State at the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Liz Truss.
"We're thrilled to have won the overall prize on these islands.
"We thank our wonderful staff and our great customers," said James Nolan (48).
The thriving business has 25 staff and uses beef from its own farm and local farmers.
It has state-of-the-art EU approved meat facilities and its own large retail shop with a wide array of top-notch natural foods.
James is the fourth generation of his family to run the business, founded in 1886.
Winning awards is nothing new for Nolan's. The business won nine gold medals for its meat products at the 2014 Irish Craft Butchers' Association Awards last year, said Mr Nolan.
Nolan's also won the Best Festive Product at the European Fins Goustier Awards in France last November with their own low-salt home-cured baked ham.
James said he was very ill until he got a new lease of life in 1987 when his sister Catherine became a donor to give him one of her kidneys.
"Catherine was the first person I telephoned as we came out of the House of Lords with our award," he said.
Last August, he was a member of Transplant Team Ireland in the international games in Poland where he won a silver medal and two bronze medals in competitions for running, shooting, and golf.
A former amateur jockey, he set up the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund which organises an annual race at Punchestown race course which has raised almost €1.3m over the past 26 years.
Nolan's also sponsors Kilcullen GAA football club.
It facilities educational trips from local schools and receives visits from trainee chefs from the Institute of Technology in Tallaght.