March 31st, 2013
Further west at Bunowen Pier, Graham and Saoirse Roberts run the Connemara Smokehouse, one of the best smokehouses in the country. They are a charming and enthusiastic couple who work very hard in carrying on the tradition of producing smoked salmon which was started by Graham’s parents in 1979.
“We do traditional smoked salmon and also smoked tuna which is very popular. It is line caught and environmentally friendly,” said Graham.
They also do smoked mackerel, plain or peppered, as well as gravad lax, and roast and honey roast hot smoked salmon. Another product is a smoked tuna mousse from Graham’s grandmother’s recipe which he has “tweaked a bit”. It involves cream so has a short shelf life and is only available at the smokehouse.
Eight people work at the Connemara Smokehouse. “They have young families, so that’s 30 people benefiting in a positive way by what we are doing. Nobody’s ever going to be wealthy doing what we do, but you can make a living doing something you enjoy in the long term.
“Ten years ago people had lost the run of themselves, which thank God was never the way I was brought up. My two older boys come down to the smokehouse during the summer, and my daughter helps out in the shop. They learn that if they want pocket money they have to do something for it, but again it’s a nice gentle way of bringing them into it without saying ‘it’s a family business you have to work in it’, it’s their choice. That’s how it was for me as well and it’s something that I’ve always loved doing,” Graham explained.
Sunday Independent by Lucinda O’ Sullivan
July 2nd, 2011
Irish Times-Food File by Marie-Claire Digby 2/7/2011
Graham and Saoirse Roberts produce some of Ireland’s best smoked fish products at their Connemara Smokehouse, situated right on the water’s edge at Bunnowen pier in Ballyconneely. Their cold and hot smoked salmon is superlative, but they also smoke mackerel, kippers and tuna – the latter is supplied to UK chef Rick Stein for his Padstow seafood restaurant.
The cold smoked tuna is a revelation – meaty, delicately smokey and sweet at the same time. As part of a smoked seafood platter it steals the limelight from its more common cousin the salmon. Roberts says he uses only Irish albacore tuna, line-caught in an environmentally-friendly way. You can buy this delicacy at the smokehouse, or from the couple’s website and it costs €15 for a 200g pack. Delivery of up to 25kg to addresses within Ireland adds a further €12. “If customers are visiting during June, July or August, they can come on one of our tours of the smokehouse which we run at 3pm every Wednesday”, Graham suggests (booking is advisable).
Saoirse suggests using the hot smoked tuna (€15/200g), in a salad with beetroot ribbons (pictured), while Graham prefers the cold smoked atop thin rounds of toast smeared with cream cheese, with a delicate sliver of cucumber. “Normally we serve it very simply, and it goes very well with some bubbly,” he says. See www.smokehouse.ie.
Honey Roast Smoked Tuna
June 9th, 2010
Originally from Lymington in the South of England, it was inevitable that John Roberts (Graham Roberts’ father) would go to sea. He grew up near Southampton, famous for its nautical college. John attended the world-renowned Warsash Nautical College in nearby Southampton.
John first went to sea in 1967 and initially worked on passenger vessels and in 1968 he purchased his own boat the “Kingfisher”. Achieving his qualification in maritime studies, he then went to work in the fisheries sector, and became heavily involved in fisheries research in the UK. He moved to Ireland with his family in 1978 and purchased his first Irish boat the “Graylin”. From here is where it all started.
John had many boats after that the Graylin from the ABC1, Alain Domique, Kittiewake, Carraig Chuin and Fulmur.
This week Kittiewake G25 came home to roost. Built clark steelcraft in Southampton for John (Graham’s Father) she was lanched in 1989 and was sold during the 90′s to an Aran Island owner. In our time she was engaged in survey work with B.I.M. (Bord Iascaigh Mhara) to find Enviromentally Friendly & Sustainable ways of catching Tuna & Swordfish by line fishing. Since then we have been smoking Tuna and have developed a cure that is unique to the Connemara Smokehouse and has become a firm favourite. See www.smokehouse.ie for more on Tuna.
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In the space of a week of the Kittiwake returning, Carraig Chuin returns for a visit.
Another of the Roberts fleet. She was a fine wodden 47ft Tyrells of Arklow built Inshore trawler. She was owned after the Kittiwake during the 90′s. Carraig Chuin used to fish the South and West Inshore Waters.
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John has since retired from the Connemara Smokehouse but is still very much involved with the sea check John out – Serious Sailing