Jerome Stack may be better known to theatre audiences here as the director of the Island Players. In tuxedo and bow tie, he is the man who introduces guests and groups to the Ivy Leaf Art Centre at the annual Kerry Drama Festival each March since 1988.
However, a cast of loyal customers in the Castleisland area know him as a local butcher since he arrived here from his native Listowel in 1968. He became their family butcher in 1975 with the opening of The Meat Centre at Upper Main Street in the building previously occupied by Evelyn Harrington in the same trade.
Jerome wrote down and shared his memories of working in Castleisland over the years after he closed the door of No. 127 at lunchtime on Sunday.
“When I came to work in Castleisland for Michael Brosnan in 1968 there were six butcher’s shops in the town.
They were: Michael Brosnan, Tommy Lawlor; Denny Harrington, John Jackman, Michael Leahy and Evelyn Harrington.
At that time, Castleisland was a bustling, market town with small shops the length of the main street.
Since opening the Meat Centre in 1975 I have seen huge chenges in the butchery trade in the intervening years.
During the late 70s and early 80s shopping was much different, families were much larger, there were six to eight people in every house. Deep freezes were a necessity in most homes as people were putting, cattle, sheep and pigs into them.
Farmers were beginning to have their own stock butchered and stored in the freezers at that time also.
Today things are much different and there are only two people, on average, in each house and only one in some. So, food consumption has changed utterly.
Today, housewives who also work outside the home do not have time for cooking big meals and so the prepared meals and ready foods are the preferred choices.
Castleisland always had a good reputation for excellent food quality and it still retains that accolade.
So, after 47 years trading in Castleisland I have decided to retire. I have enjoyed my time serving the people of Castleisland and the surrounding areas.
I have seen three generations of the same families coming to shop with me – and that’s something I’m very proud of.
I would like to thank all the people who supported me over the years and to thank all the those who expressed their kind wishes to me on my retirement,” Jerome concluded.
In tribute to his Listowel grounded stage craft: I remember a November 2001night at the Ivy Leaf Art Centre during a run of the John B Keane classic, The Field.
Jerome played the part of the bishop and, in mounting the pulpit to deliver the ultimatum to his parishioners to give up the information they had, he blessed himself as a necessary part of the act. Unwittingly, so did most of the audience, myself included. Quickly realising what we had done, a low ripple of laughter did its rounds of the little theatre.
Jerome, the actor, managed a half-smile of acknowledgement on his utterly convinced audience and carried on without breaking stride.
Jerome’s associations with the Island Players and the Kerry Drama Festival will continue . Here’s wishing himself and Brenda many happy years of fruitful retirement.