Co. Clare couple invest €850,000 in transforming derelict site in Kilkee into a seafood destination, with support from BIM


An entrepreneurial Co Clare couple have invested €850,000 in transforming a derelict site in the centre of the popular seaside town of Kilkee into an outstanding seafood destination.

Robert Hayes and his wife Elaine recently opened Naughton’s Yard, an exciting development which includes apartments, a café, an art gallery and a vintage food truck serving the best of locally caught seafood.

The €850,000 project was completed with the support of a €41,000 grant 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 new seafood destination, which is just 500 metres from the beach, has been developed on what was the site of stables used for carriage horses that serviced the old West Clare Railway in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The derelict land had been an eyesore in the town.

Elaine led on the decors used for the new centre and went to great lengths to ensure they were unique, with a strong seaside theme.

The final part of the project involved the sourcing of a vintage 1968 American Airstream trailer which has been converted it into a sleek, outdoor food truck offering delicious seafood sourced from local suppliers and fishermen including lobster, prawns, hake and lemon sole.

Robert and Elaine are no strangers to the hospitality sector in Kilkee, an area well-known for diving, walking and swimming. They have been running the popular Naughtons Seafood Restaurant in the centre of the town for the last 25 years.

Said Robert: “We had our eye on this derelict site for some time and saw huge potential for it. The location is perfect, and is close to the seafront. We wanted the development to promote the fishing heritage that Kilkee and West Clare are known for, and to incorporate this with promoting local art.”

“The site was in poor repair and an eyesore we were delighted to transform it into a popular attraction for tourists.”

The purchase and repurposing of the trailer was supported with the Brexit grant. “We were very excited about this. It is proving to be a huge attraction, and allows for outdoor dining with awnings to provide shelter in bad weather. There is also a take-home food service.”

The project has created jobs and is also providing a boost to local food suppliers as all ingredients used in the café and the food truck are sourced within a 15 km radius of Kilkee. “We are a local family who live and work here and have created employment in the area over the last 25 years. We are proud to be creating new jobs while promoting the rich coastal tourism and fishing heritage our area has to offer.”

Robert said they have forged relationships with local fisherman and suppliers to deliver sustainably caught seafood from “sea to fork”, thereby keeping a low to neutral carbon footprint.

In addition, they are only using eco-friendly compostable and recycled packaging, keeping with Kilkee’s very successful ‘Make Kilkee Plastic Free’ initiative, and new solar panels are providing 70 per cent of electricity.

Robert and Elaine are looking forward to a busy summer season, a time when Kilkee comes alive with surfing enthusiasts from all over Ireland and beyond descend on the town.