Burren Smokehouse ready to scale up following €171,000 investment, supported by BIM

Birgitta Curtin, owner of the Burren Smokehouse

The Burren Smokehouse in Co. Clare is ready to scale up following a €171,000 investment in new equipment and energy efficiencies, supported by BIM.

Established by Swedish-born Birgitta Curtin and her Irish husband Peter in 1989, the business produces a variety of products including award-winning cold and hot smoked organic and wild salmon. They also sell popular smoked mackerel and smoked eel products.

The investment by the well-known artisan food outlet was supported with grand aid of €76,900 under the Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme, recommended by the Seafood Taskforce established by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D.

Implemented by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the scheme is funded by the European Union under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve.

The recent investment in machinery and solar panels has enhanced the Burren Smokehouse efficiency and digital capability and has reduced its environmental impact.

“The grant aid has allowed us to invest, be more sustainable and to take opportunities to improve standards and reduce costs which is critical,” said Birgitta. “New digital equipment, including a digital control panel for the fish smoker, has made processing easier for staff to manage, allowing for scannable stocktaking and integration of website orders.”

She added: “The grant aid really pushed us to take opportunities to make improvements that we otherwise might have held back on. Businesses like ours need to innovate on a continuous basis, but we also need to watch every cent. The funding from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve meant we were able to take opportunities to future proof our business, and keep efficiencies high, which is essential in an environment where costs are rising.”

Certified by Bord Bia Origin Green and Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark Burren Code of Practice, Birgitta stresses the commitment of The Burren Smokehouse to reducing its carbon footprint, something which has been helped by the investment in solar panels.

“We are delighted with the impact of the investment on our energy efficiencies. The investment has helped us see the light again after the impact of Brexit and Covid-19. Our energy bills have been reduced and we are playing our part in reducing our carbon footprint and our energy bills which is in line with our mission to be sustainable as possible.”

The Burren Smokehouse employs 18 people, and this increases at different times during the year especially Christmas, when online sales in particular increase dramatically.

As well as online sales, The Burren Smokehouse sells into niche outlets like Donnybrook Fair, Avoca and Fallon and Byrne. It also supplies to Dunnes Stories Simply Better range, and is on the menus in high-end hotels including Dromoland Castle and Gregan Castle

Birgitta visited Ireland as a young 18-year-old in 1981. Born and raised in Nyköping on Sweden’s Baltic Sea coast, and the daughter of a Swedish MP, the award-winning businesswoman was inspired to visit Ireland by her two older sisters, who had travelled here and loved the country.

It didn’t take long for Birgitta to be smitten – and there was no going back when she met her husband of more than 35 years, Peter Curtin, in a pub in Doolin in Co. Clare. What followed was a merging of Irish history and Scandinavian heritage – and the magic that is The Burren Smokehouse.

Birgitta and Peter are passionate about quality, organic food and sustainability. They began to smoke salmon in 1987 and their award-winning business, Burren Smokehouse, was established in 1989. Peter was born in Lisdoonvarna, and spent many years in the Merchant Navy. When he returned to Co. Clare he developed the patented smoking process that is still used in the Burren Smokehouse today.

In 1995 the couple added to their business, establishing The Burren Smokehouse Taste the Atlantic Irish Salmon Visitor Experience, showcasing the traditional art and craft of smoking salmon attracting around 40,000 people each year. It is not just a huge tourist draw, but an important sales
pipeline as 85% of their online customers would have visited the Burren Smokehouse prior to purchase.”

Birgitta grew up in Sweden and experienced salmon that had been smoked using traditional methods. “Myself and Peter wanted to have an artisan business, rather than to mass produce food, and the Burren was the perfect location. I grew up on a farm living in nature on the edge of the Baltic Sea, which can be wild – but it doesn’t compare to the raw energy and beauty of the Atlantic.”