Situated on the water's edge at Bunowen Pier, in the heart of Connemara and between Roundstone and Clifden, the Connemara Smokehouse has an enviable position, with exceptional views of the Twelve Bens mountain range and the castle of Connaught's historic Pirate Queen, Grainne Mhoal. You drive around the small, curved, golden-sand beach - the Smokehouse is at the far end of the bay. It's the longest established smokehouse in the area and one of the few remaining specialising in wild smoked salmon. Wild salmon is caught locally; organic comes from Clare Island, off the west coast of Mayo. They also specialise in Irish smoked tuna and gravadlax.
In 1979, when he was just four years old, Graham Roberts' parents John and Bridget opened the Connemara Smokehouse. Graham's childhood memories involve following his father round as he went about the daily business - as well as playing on the rocks below. When he was 16, he became actively involved and followed this with a course in the Fisheries College in Greencastle. Today Graham and his wife Saoirse run the business together. And with four young children, they can rest assured that the Smokehouse will continue into the next generation.
The first step in the smoking process is the filleting. Unbelievably, Graham does all the filleting by hand, that's about 40 to 50 fish per hour. The bones are removed and the fish is washed to remove any loose bones. Refrigerated for an hour or so to allow the water to drain off, it's then ready for salting and smoking. Beech is used for the smoking process and the smoke is fanned through the kiln for about 8-10 hours. The length of the smoking process depends on various factors, including the weather and Graham decides when it's ready! It's then left in the cold room for 24 hours before slicing.
Some of the fish is sliced by hand and some by machine - but with Graham slicing, it's impossible to tell the difference. He can slice between 25 and 30 sides every hour. Products include roast smoked salmon when the fish is slowly smoked using a hot fire to give a cooked salmon texture; honey roast smoked salmon where the salmon is marinated in honey before smoking; gravadlax, salmon that's marinated with sugar, salt, dill and Irish whiskey. Wild tuna is caught by the line-fishing method and is lightly cured and smoked or marinated in honey.
Tours of the Smokehouse are available and take about 1 hour. You can watch Graham through all the processes of filleting to the finished product and enjoy a sample. Graham (in English) or Nicholas (in French) will show the filleting of salmon explain the salting and smoking techniques, then he will show the hand-slicing and packing of the smoked salmon the finished product. You will also enjoy a tasting of our fantastic Smoked Salmon. We are sure you will then want to buy some to take home, eat some while you are here on holiday, or send to friends and family as a gift. It's educational, fun and delicious.
Visitors are welcome all year round to come in for a chat and purchase any of our products. Group Tours by appointment only and booking is advisable for general tours. Products are also available online.
Open All Year Round
09.00 to 13.00 - 14.00 to 17.00
Closed between 13.00 -14.00 Monday to Friday
Closed Saturday & Sunday's
Closed Bank Holiday's