Business Profiles

Cracking Open the Best of Quinlan’s Kerryfish

The Quinlan family name has long been synonymous with fresh fish.  Liam, Ronan and Fintan are the sons of Michael Quinlan who set up Quinlan’s Fish in Kerry in 1963.  These three brothers have dedicated themselves to making their family business one that is nationally and internationally renowned for the quality of its fish.

Today, they have fish shops in Tralee, Killarney, Cahersiveen and Killorglin.  They have seafood bars serving upmarket fish and chips and fish dishes in Tralee, Killarney and Killorglin.  They also have a fish restaurant in Cork.  Their website www.kerryfish.ie ships their seafood all over the world and their smoked salmon and crab products have won prestigious prizes.

Their business wasn’t always so varied.  In the 1960s, Michael had a fish processing company, exporting his products worldwide.  “We changed that model in the 1980s,” says Liam.  “Our first step was to invest in our own trawlers which meant we could guarantee the traceability and quality of our fish.”

“We know the skippers and their crews,” says Liam.  “We know where they’re fishing and we know the quality of their fish."

“We know the skippers and their crews,” says Liam. “We know where they’re fishing and we know the quality of their fish.”

In 1989, the brothers opened their first shop in Killorglin and others soon followed in Cahersiveen, Tralee and Killarney.  The soaring property prices of the Celtic Tiger held back their progress for a while, but the recession brought new opportunities.

In 2011, they opened their seafood bar in Killarney and in 2013, they opened one in Tralee.  They opened their restaurant in Cork in 2015.  “And so far in 2016, we have renovated our fish shop in Killorglin and added a seafood bar to it, serving fish and chips and other fish dishes,” says Liam.

Liam believes the secret to the family’s success is the fact that customers trust their fish will be fresh.  Because they have their own trawlers and work closely with eleven other trawlers fishing the seas from Donegal to Cork, the Quinlans can catch, process and supply fish to their shops and fish bars in a matter of hours.

“We know the skippers and their crews,” says Liam.  “We know where they’re fishing and we know the quality of their fish.  We pride ourselves on being able to say when and where our fish was caught and by whom.

[pull_quote_center]It’s what our business is all about: traceability, accountability and local connections.[/pull_quote_center]

The Quinlans have also developed a reputation for the quality of their smoked salmon and crab products.  Liam and his brothers are keen to develop this part of their business further.

“We already export to Germany, France, Luxembourg, Austria, Holland, Belgium and the UK,” he says.  “We supply some wholesalers in Ireland too.  But we’d love to find new markets for our crab.  We’ve been cracking crab for the past 20 years and 99% of it is caught off the coast of Kerry.  It’s landed nightly and we cook it within hours to lock in its freshness and flavour.  You couldn’t find a more natural product.”

Nor could you find a more delicious one, according to the judges at Blas na hÉireann.   Both of the smoked salmon and the crab won Gold at last year’s Blas na hÉireann Awards and Quinlan’s Kerry Crab was named the Supreme Champion.

As well as numerous shops and seafood bars, the family also owns a restaurant in Cork.

As well as numerous shops and seafood bars, the family also owns a restaurant in Cork.

Quinlan’s Fish now employs more than 70 people, and Liam and his brothers are constantly looking at ways of expanding.  As well as developing the market for their smoked salmon and crab, they are also looking for new opportunities outside Kerry.

“We have a quality product in our fresh fish,” says Liam.  “All we have to do is make more people aware of it.”

[quote_box_center]For more information on Quinlan’s Kerryfish, visit their website.[/quote_box_center]

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