By Lucinda O’Sullivan
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.