North Dublin seafood business set for expansion following €160,000 investment supported by BIM

Brothers Damian and Tadgh O’Meara, Kish Fish, Howth, Co. Dublin .

While Covid had a negative impact on many businesses during the pandemic, it inspired the entrepreneurial brothers behind the thriving Kish Fish seafood business in north Dublin to expand.

Thanks to a €160,000 investment in new production facilities and equipment Kish Fish – headquartered in Howth and led by Tadgh and Damian O’Meara – is poised for serious growth in 2024.

A family affair Kish Fish, which got its name from the Kish Lighthouse, was founded by the O’Meara’s dad, Tadgh Snr and Danny Hughes in 1966 when they first began selling whole fish in the Dublin Fish-market. Brothers Tadgh, Bill and Damian took over the business in the 1990’s but sadly Bill passed away in 2022.

Kish Fish opened its first retail shop in Bow St, Dublin, in 1989 and in 2007 a purpose-built facility was built in Coolock to meet growing demand. This was followed by a new factory shop in Coolock a year later.

The business further expanded in 2016 when it acquired a smokehouse and a third retail shop on Howth’s west pier. A year later, in partnership with Avoca, it opened a seafood counter in Dunboyne.

As well as its four popular fish shops serving up the freshest of seafood daily by a team of professional fishmongers, there is a production facility, the Baily & Kish smokehouse, an online shop, and the Baily Bites at Kish food truck, located on the West Pier in Howth.

“From small beginnings we are proud that today Kish Fish supplies hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and other food service outlets all over the country with top quality seafood.” said Tadgh O’Meara.

“We are a progressive seafood supplier. Our primary aim is to supply the highest quality seafood at competitive prices. We work with an extensive list of trusted partners who supply the best quality fish and shellfish from around Ireland’s coastline and beyond.”

The O’Meara’s realised a few years ago that their existing production facility which had launched Kish Fish into the area of value-added production had served its purpose.

“It was too small. We were constrained in our plans to develop and increase the volume and variety of ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat seafood products for which there was more demand after Covid.”

The recent development project cost was over €160,000 of which almost €70,000 was grant aided under the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme recommended by the Seafood Taskforce established by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. and implemented by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM). The scheme is funded by the European Union under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve.

“The investment supported a combination of plant and equipment upgrading, staff up skilling and recruitment and internal construction changes. A commercial value-added production facility was added that allows for production of higher volumes of ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook food.

“The new production facility includes a seafood dicing machine which will be a gamechanger, allowing to produce a higher volume of value-added products than before, directly appealing to food services and hospitality customers.” said Tadgh.

For example, with the new facilities Kish Fish has increased its capacity of fish cake production by 20% a week. It has also doubled the production of seafood chowder by 50% per day.

“The increase in production of ready-made convenience meals will expand our customer base within our own retail outlets, and through our high-volume customers. Building on our existing smokehouse capability, we will shift the focus away from the stalwart products such as salmon and cod to new high value products.”

“Being able to supply more prepared fresh food will help our hospitality customers overcome challenges they face including staff and skills shortages.”

The new development also means Kish Fish operations are more energy efficient and sustainable with off peak power options and environmentally friendly packaging. It will allow for better use of raw material, focusing on increasing the value extracted and reducing the level of waste.

Kish Fish also hopes to increase staff numbers recruiting new employees at all levels including specialists, operatives and chefs bringing jobs to the local economy while playing its part in carrying on the long legacy and heritage of fishing in Howth.