Family Values

March 4th, 2012

Foodie Families

The Entrepreneurs following in their Parents’ Footsteps

While many entrepreneurs around the country are moving into the food industry for the first time, for others a career in the sector was always on the cards. We talk to people who grew up immersed in food,    and who are now following in their parents’ footsteps.

Aengus McMahon - Connemara Smokehouse

Graham and Saoirse Roberts of the Connemara Smokehouse in Ballyconneely, Co. Galway, with Graham's parents John and Bridget, and their children, Amy, Keith, Ethan and Katie

Graham and Saoirse Roberts – Connemara Smokehouse, Ballyconneely, Co. Galway

Owned and operated by the Roberts family since 1979, the Connemara Smokehouse is one of the oldest in the country. Specialising in wild Atlantic Salmon, the business has built a name for itself – by selling hand-filleted, cured and smoked Irish fish.

“My mum and dad started the business back in 1979,” says Graham Roberts, who now runs the business with his wife, Saoirse.

“Dad was a fisherman before that, so fish is in the blood at this stage. I grew up with the business and I’ve alway loved it – from four 0r five years of age I was down here washing fish boxes, although I’m sure the lads had to do them again after me. I loved it though, and I felt that I was helping.”

The couple took over the family business around 14 years ago. “Dad has gone back to sea and does a lot of teaching and training in that area,” says Roberts. “Mum still works in the office and has a wealth of knowledge, Saoirse looks after all the marketing and web stuff, and I took after the fish, so we work well as a team.”

The couple have four children – Amy (11), Keith (10), Ethan (8) and Katie (6) – and all four of them are growing up immersed in the business. For Roberts, there is a direct connection between the state of the economy and a growing level of interest in food quality. “People are increasingly concerned about the quality of the food they’re eating, about who produces it and how it’s made,” he says.

“We saw that trend emerging a few years ago, and it turned out there was a role for us in it, because people like to be able to deal directly with their food producers if they can. When people come here, they meet us and see the passion we have for what we do- and that gives them great confidence in what they’re buying.”

Roberts describes smoked salmon as “a relatively simple product – you take fish, apply salt and smoke it”, but says it doesn’t lend itself well to mass production.

“It needs personal and individual attention, and there’s an art producing smoking fish well that just doesn’t translate to mass production, particularly when people are under pressure to meet a certain price point,” he says.

The difference between good and bad smoked salmon depends on two key factors, according to Roberts – fish selection and good production methods.

“Smoked salmon should be dried, but not dry in other words, a lot of water should be taken out as part of the process of dry salting, curing and smoking. As with so many foods now, it’s common for mass producers to try to keep the water content high because water is weight, which means more money. The result can be wet and greasy smoked salmon,” he says.

“We get worse yields than most producers, but the reason is that w’ere looking for quality. If somebody buys our fish then we have that one opportunity to make them taste the difference, decide it’s gorgeous and come back for more. A one-off sale isn’t really worth anything to us.

“ You have to source the best quality fish and then apply the best production techniques to it. There are huge variations in terms of what’s out there – there are some very very good small producers making a product that is different to ours but still very good.

“That’s a healthy thing because people’s tastes are different.”


The Sunday Business Post – Ireland’s Cultural & Lifestyle Magazine – March 4 2012 – Words by Alex Meehan & Photo by Aengus McMahon –!cat/Agenda

Artisan Food Producers Network

October 24th, 2011


At the National Rural Development Conference in Athlone recently, Dr. Kevin Heanue of Teagasc called for artisan food producers who wish to join an exciting development project sponsored by the European Union through the INTERREG Northern Periphery Programme, to contact him immediately.

At one of the conference sessions discussing how to link culture, heritage and the landscape to the local economy, Dr Heanue said:” The project provides business support funding to artisan food producers who wish to develop a tourism aspect to their business and join an expanding national and international network of similar businesses.”

The network is based on a successful model developed in Quebec, Canada over twenty years ago, where rural artisan businesses that are supported to develop a tourism aspect to their operations are called Économusée. These Économusée form a tourism based network, or trail which assists the businesses expand sales and sustain employment. To date, two Économusée have been created in Ireland; The Connemara Smokehouse in Ballyconneely, Co. Galway and Celtic Roots in Ballinahown, Co. Westmeath. Several Économusée have been launched in Northern Ireland as well. Teagasc, as the Irish partner in the INTERREG Northern Periphery Programme project, now seeks to help two artisan food producers join this network.

For details contact:

Dr. Kevin Heanue
091 845834 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting   or    email:

The National Rural Development conference entitled ‘Towards 2020 – Building a Vibrant Rural Economy’, was organised by Teagasc and the National Rural Network.

Tried and Tested

October 23rd, 2011
Connemara Smokehouse

Traditional Irish Smoked Irish Salmon - Connemara Smokehouse

 October 2011 By Gillian Nelis – Sunday Business Post – Agenda Magazine

The big smoke on the west coast

There are several good reasons to visit the Connemara Smokehouse on Bunowen Pier in Ballyconneely, Co Galway.

There’s the fish, of course, but there’s also the stunning location on the edge of the Atlantic, and the chance to meet Graham and Saoirse Roberts and their four children, who are as enthusiastic a bunch of foodies as you could hope to encounter.

The Roberts family has been smoking fish here since 1979 and, over 30 years later, the fish they produce is still hand-filleted, smoked and packaged onsite.

Their speciality is wild Atlantic salmon that’s caught by Connemara fishermen before being dry-salted and placed in Old Smoky – a kiln first used in the 1940s – and beechwood-smoked.

It’s not cheap – a 200g pack costs €25 – but you can taste the quality in every bite, and it would be a wonderful buy for Christmas. For a more everyday treat, try the peppered smoked mackerel, which is €6.50 for a three-fillet pack. You can eat it cold, but in this weather it’s great served warm on toast for a quick and healthy supper.

You could also use it to whip up a quick smoked mackerel pate. There are any number of recipes available for this particular dish, but food blogger The Daily Spud ( recommends adding spring onions, root ginger and rice vinegar for a slightly oriental twist.

All of the Connemara Smokehouse products are available online, the only exception being the smoked tuna mousse – because it contains fresh cream, it isn’t suitable for home delivery. It’s delicious though, so if you’re lucky enough to be in the vicinity of Ballyconneely over the next while, stock up on a few pots.

The range also includes organic salmon from Clare Island, line caught smoked tuna and farmed salmon from small, independent producers. Full details on pricing and delivery – as well as a great selection of recipes – are on

Agenda - Sunday Business Post - Connemara Smokehouse


Tagliatelle Organic Smoked Salmon and Creamy Vodka Sauce

October 5th, 2011

Serves 6

Tagliatelle Smoked Salmon with Creamy Vodka Sauce


300/400 grm of Connemara Smokehouse Organic Smoked Salmon (Chopped Coarsely)

50grm Butter

1 ounce flour

3/4 pint milk

1/4 cream

1/2 tub philadelphia cheese

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp tarragon

1 tsp parsley

1 tsp basil

Approx. 40 grinds of Black Pepper

A generous splash of  vodka (approx. 1/2 cup)

I bag fresh/dried Tagliatelle


In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes, add the flour stirring into a roux. On a low heat stir in the milk and cream slowly, continually stirring to avoid sticking and lumps.

Add the philadelphia cheese and melt, stirring all the time add the tarragon, parsley, basil and black pepper.  Add the Connemara Smokehouse Organic Smoked Salmon and vodka, keep stirring until the salmon is cooked.

Taste to check seasoning.  Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain in a colander. Serve in pasta bowls.  Top the tagliatelle with Smoked Salmon sauce and topped with a bit of Parmesan cheese.

Note: Don’t add salt until after the smoked salmon is cooked as cooking will bring out the saltiness of the salmon

Recipe that Graham cooked at the Leenane Autumnal Festival 2011

Baked Potato Créme Friache & Gravadlax

September 23rd, 2011

Gravadlax (Marinated Salmon in Salt, Sugar, Dill & Irish Whiskey)

Serves 2© Connemara Smokehouse Limited



2 Medium/Large Baked Potatoes

4 Slices of Connemara Smokehouse Gravadlax

1 tub of Créme Friache

Pepper to Taste

Rocket Leaves



Cross cut the top of your potatoes with a knife and sprinkle with a little salt (Herb if desired). Wrap your potatoes in tinfoil and place in oven for 45/60 minutes depending on the size of your potatoes.

Be careful of your fingers! unwrap the potatoes and open up the potatoes and dollop 1 to 2 spoons of créme friache on top, followed by 1 to 2 slices of Connemara Smokehouse Gravadlax.  Another little dollop of créme friache sprinkle a little ground pepper and serve on a plate with some rocket leaves


Monty Halls Great Irish Escape in Connemara

September 15th, 2011

Monty Halls Great Irish Escape

For all our UK Fans Graham Roberts of Connemara Smokehouse is featuring on Monty Halls Great Irish Escape tonight don’t forget to tune to BBC.

Graham was invited along by Monty & Tam to “The Roundstone Dive & Wildlife Festival” Graham will be demonstrating his knife skill with a slicing demonstration of Wild Irish Smoked Salmon from Killary, Connemara with samples to follow.

You can now buy Monty’s Great Irish Escape Monty’s book  or DVD Series