End of an era for award-winning ‘Danny Boy’ sausage maker in Limavady

Ian Hunter with his brother Brian.
Ian Hunter with his brother Brian.

It’s the end of an era for Limavady business Norman Hunter & Son.

The award-winning butchers and delicatessen on Main Street closed today.

Ian Hunter with staff Tommy Foster and Alan Barbour.

Ian Hunter with staff Tommy Foster and Alan Barbour.

It’s seen as an institution in the town as it dates back to the late 1800s.

Famous for its Danny Boy sausages, it was started by Norman Hunter from Limavady who went from butcher boy to businessman having worked in the previous butchers.

From 12 years of age Norman had a vision that one day he’d run his own butchers.

One of 16 children, Norman worked hard and learned the trade.

The late Norman Hunter.

The late Norman Hunter.

In the intervening years he met his wife Sybil, who was Scottish. They married and raised two children, Ian and Brian.

Ian, a research scientist, left London in 1999 to return home. His father, in his 80s at this stage and supposedly retired, was still working and even did a spell as delivery boy, recalls Ian, before he died in 2010.

With a love of food, it wasn’t long before Ian found his feet.

Accolades Ian has collected over the years include “more awards than I can remember”.

“We’ve been NI Butcher of Year twice, Supreme Champion Butcher and NI Deli of the Year twice and so many more,” Ian said.

The business will be taken over by McAtamneys Butchers and Ian said he’s been assured the staff will keep their jobs.

“That is something that’s very important to me,” he said.

One of the things Ian is most proud of is his famous Danny Boy sausages.

“A very dear friend of mine, the late Brian Brown said ‘we’re having a Danny Boy festival, do something’, and that’s why I developed the Danny Boy sausage. It’s basically cabbage and bacon. It is a secret recipe but that’s the basis of it,” he said, explaining he’s heard they’ve made their way to America on occasions.

The business has sustained between 12-14 jobs for hard working staff who Ian is sorry to say to goodbye to.

“I was their boss but, at the end of the hunt, we are friends,” he said. “I want to thank them for coming with me on a journey of food. Sometimes they disgreed with things I brought in - from ostrich to alligator - you name it I have tried it.

“I am very sad to leave and if it wasn’t for the people of Limavady I wouldn’t be here and I appreciate every customer. Limavady is a wonderful wee town.”