An iconic Wollongong family business is turning 70 soon and is inviting thousands of people it has served or employed over the years to join in the celebration.
Dorahy Meats started just after World War II when five brothers (Bill, Ray, Vince, Kevin and Greg) bought their first butcher shop together in August, 1948.
All had previously worked as butchers and the family’s connection to the trade goes back much further. The Dorahy’s first arrived in Australia from Ireland in 1837. And in 1884 Mick Dorahy started working in the meat industry in Sydney.
Chris and Patrick Dorahy were among the second generation of the family to work in the Dorahy Bros business. And Patrick’s daughter Samantha at Unanderra represents the third generation and is eager to keep the Dorahy Meats name going.
Chris said the original Dorahy Bros business grew quickly. In 1949 they bought a butcher shop in Unanderra and an abattoir at Figtree.
The family went on to own a total of 22 shops between Helensburgh, Gerringong and Bowral as well as a wholesale meat division run sold stores to the ships coming into Port Kembla.
Vince’s brother-in-law Pat Madden was also a partner in the business and there was a subsidiary branch of Dorahy Meats called Maddens Meat Markets.
Each brother had a role and they all worked well together. Many of their childen became involved in the business and some of Ray’s children started a meat business in Cooma.
Dorahy Meats thrived in an era where the butcher shop was a big part of every suburb.
When Dorahy Bros was bought by a Sydney company in the late 60’s many of the family remained and the name carried on. The number of shops gradually diminished as the five brothers started to retire.
Family members today still love coming into Dorahy Meats Unanderra, owned and run by Samantha, to reminisce about the good old days where there was a Dorahy butcher in most suburbs.
“Our parents all worked very hard seven days a week,” Patrick said.
Over the last seven decades thousands of families have been customers. And the Dorahy family expects many people will want to help celebrate the 70th anniversary at Wests Illawarra from 3pm on September 1.
An event has been created on Facebook for past employees, associates and customers. A Dorahy family reunion in 2001 filled the hockey stadium in Waples Rd.
“I still get people coming up to me saying I used to serve them. People remember because there are not many butcher shops left,” Chris said.
Dorahy Meats Unanderra has one customer who comes in from Queensland every few months just to buy sausages because he can’t get them like that anywhere else. And customers recently came in from the United States and Thailand to buy sausages to send home.