Belfast Telegraph

Famous Irish sausage maker Olhausen shuts doors after 126 years

By Nicola Anderson

One of the Ireland's best known meat processing plants has been forced to close with the loss of 160 jobs.

Sausage maker Olhausen -- which had been in business for more than 126 years -- ceased trading at its plants in Blanchardstown and Coolock in Dublin and in Co Monaghan.

Shocked workers will now have to wait until next Monday or Tuesday to find out what their entitlements are.

The employees had turned up for work yesterday morning as normal but within an hour were told their jobs had gone.

Ulster Bank-appointed receiver Jim Hamilton, of BDO, informed them that the company had closed as it was no longer a going concern.

SIPTU organiser Colm Casserly said discussions are continuing with the receiver over the payment of wages and redundancy terms.

Olhausen worker David Hatton said they knew the financial situation within the company was bad but staff had hoped to "get until Christmas out of it".

Alan Boxwell (51) told how he had never been unemployed since starting work at the company at the age of 15. He said staff were in "complete shock".

A statement from the BDO receivers expressed regret that the company had been forced to cease trading.

"Unfortunately we have today had to inform the employees that all positions within the company are now redundant," it said.

They said their primary focus is now on completing paperwork in order that employee entitlements may be processed as quickly as possible.

However, it is understood that staff will be paid outstanding wages for their work over the past two weeks. They are also entitled to statutory redundancy pay, which could take up to six months to process.

The receivers are also trying to find a purchaser for the remaining business and assets.

Olhausen began as a retail butcher shop in Talbot Street, Dublin, in 1896 and became a firm family favourite.

Its sausages, puddings, bacon and pork products are sold under the brand names Olhausen, Byrnes and Kearns -- two other old Dublin pork brands long since merged under the Olhausen umbrella.

In recent years, the company had been suffering financial difficulties and had been unsuccessful in finding a buyer for the struggling business.

Mr Casserly confirmed the 160 staff affected will be paid outstanding wages for work over the past two weeks.

Negotiations with the receivers had been "tough", he said, adding that he did not think they had "any intention" of paying out the wages but were eventually persuaded to do so.

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said he hoped what is left of the business and its assets attract interest from investors.

He said Olhausen had been confined to the domestic market -- a market that had suffered severe difficulties.

"Clearly the challenge for us throughout the food sector is to internationalise and grow from an Irish base, so there's a wider transformation that needs to occur," he added.

A tradition that lasted from the time of Ulysses

Their sausages and rashers appeared on every kitchen table in the country at one stage or another.

Even literary icon Leopold Bloom was an Olhausen's customer.

In the Circe chapter of James Joyce's masterpiece, he emerged from the butchers holding a parcel in each hand "one containing a lukewarm pig's crubeen . . . sprinkled with whole pepper."

The pork butchers were trading at that time at 72 Talbot Street, after the original butcher William Olhausen arrived from central Europe and set up the shop in 1896, slaughtering the pigs at the facility to the rear.

It was one of the biggest shops in Dublin at the time, with around 16 girls working there.

The sausages were a hit with customers, made with lean meat, fat meat and some beef to lend the pink colour.

Customers would also come in for pigs' legs and feet and eat them with a pint in the pub next door, former worker Declan Williamson recalled.

The Olhausen's name has been a strong household name since the days it was advertised across the front of the number 31 tram going to Howth.

And when legislation in 1927 allowed for advertising on Radio Eireann, Olhausen's was the first to take a slot, paying a princely £5 for five minutes.

In the 1970s, the company was still being run by Freddy Olhausen, son of William but was soon after sold to the Gormleys butcher stores.

In 1981 all of the butchering and processing moved out to Coolock and the manufacturing side grew.

Since February 1999, the company had been owned by a group of private investors.

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