A multi award-winning Killybegs seafood business is giving tourists a new reason to stop and spend more time in the busy fishing town with the launch of an interpretive centre offering a unique fish tasting experience, and the opportunity to learn more about fish.
Shines Seafood recently opened the new tourist attraction at its shop on the pier in Killybegs with support from Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme.
The total project cost over €46,000, of which more than €13,600 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.
Ciara Shine, who works in the business with her father, John, and mother, Marianne, said they were constantly hearing from local people that there was not enough to attract and retain visitors to the town.
“Failte Ireland were also encouraging food producers to do more for tourists than just sell food, so we decided to rise to the challenge and add something of interest to increase footfall to our shop, and add to sales at the same time.”
Shines famous tuna has become the go to for many Irish families. They came up with the idea for the interpretive centre offering a fish tasting experience using Irish tuna, Irish mackerel and Irish sardines, in addition to audio visual aids to educate people about seafood. The experience also familiarises people with the Shine Seafoods brand.
Killybegs is strategically placed on the Wild Atlantic Way, half-way between Donegal town and Slieve League, and is a perfect place to stop off and experience what the town has to offer, said Ciara. Cruise ships also land in the port, with disembarking tourists having time to spend in town.
“While Failte Ireland were there to advise us on the new business idea we would not have gone ahead if we had not received grant aid under the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme,” she added.
“We now can offer tourists an enjoyable experience in our shop and in the town in general. We hope the development of this tourist attraction in Killybegs will have a positive effect on the local economy and increase visitor spend to the town.”
Ciara’s father, John, was a fisherman for 20 years before moving ashore when his family was young. He got into fresh fish before opening an award-winning fish and chip shop, and then going on to launch products including Wild Irish Tuna.
John started selling the Albacore tuna after he received a gift of it from Spain. He was impressed by the taste and texture. Albacore tuna is white, compared to the tan or grey colour of other species.
“Dad looked into importing and selling the product in Ireland, and then found out that the tuna were actually caught off our coast, but exported to Spain,” said Ciara. “Imagine we have the best Albacore on our doorstep, but were exporting it and bringing in cheap canned tuna from the Far East, with a massive carbon footprint. It didn’t make sense.”
John decided to take advantage of the thriving seasonal Albacore fishing off the west coast of Ireland.
When the Wild Irish Tuna was launched ten years ago the Shines were told it might not take off as it was expensive, and the Irish were not big on fish.
“But once customers tasted our Albacore tuna, they preferred it to aggressively fishy skipjack tuna, and appreciated why it is more expensive,” said Ciara.
The family gradually began making inroads into retail and Shines Wild Irish Tuna is now available nationwide.
“With the new interpretive centre people will be able to taste the tuna and learn about its benefits. It’s a win, win, as it benefits our business and the town of Killybegs.”
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