Smoking wild salmon in Killorglin, Co. Kerry

Wild Salmon is nowadays a pure delicacy that is in season for a short period of time, between mid May and August. This salmon comes from very few sustainably-managed traditional net fisheries on rivers and estuaries around Ireland. One of them is right here in the heart of the Kingdom – I went out for a chat with James from KRD Fishery Smokehouse in Killorglin. 

The Smokehouse and its shop are situated on the river Laune, just coming into Killorglin from Milltown. James and his family get their salmon from the local fishermen and continue the ancient tradition of curing it since 1782. The river Laune is well known for salmon and trout fishing and flows from Lough Leane in Killarney, through Beaufort and Killorglin, and empties into the sea at Castlemaine harbour where it joins in with the river Maine, and then through Dingle Bay into the Atlantic Ocean.

After hatching, salmon spend their early life feeding in freshwater and prepare for their long migration to the sea. Usually one year after, they return as adults to mate in their native river. Driftnet fishing has been banned in Ireland since 2006 because of the decreasing numbers of salmon coming back each year. Nowadays, the government allows a very limited number of individual fishermen to catch Wild Irish Salmon by hand with very strict rules on numbers so as to maintain a healthy stock of spawning fish for future generations.

I had to be honest with James, as soon as he came out with a freshly made slice of smoked Wild salmon: I had never tasted Wild salmon before. It blew my mind – and simply melted in my mouth. The flavour is just amazing, subtly smoked, salty, and with such a delicate velvety texture.

Most of the salmon we eat in Ireland nowadays is farmed salmon. When the wild salmon is not in season, organic farmed salmon is cured and smoked at KRD Fishery. The craft and knowledge of curing and smoking has passed down from generation to generation. Salmon is cleaned and filleted first and then left to cure in salt before it is cold smoked for up to 12 hours with a combination of 3 different types of oak chips and shavings. 

KRD Fishery was born in 1849 from a partnership of Salmon buyers, three men Samuel Kearys of Cork City, Messrs. G Ronayne of Youghal, Co Cork, and local man Willian Dodd giving the name K.R.D. The firm employed a workforce of over fifty fishermen, whose sons and grandsons would have kept the same job for generations. ‘’For preserving fish, two ice houses were built close to the town near Farrantooreen Lake. Those were dug twenty-five feet into the ground, stone-lined and thatched.’’

Many people still think that Irish food is just an endless procession of stew, cabbage, and potatoes, but if I didn’t make this clear already, this is another proof. We have some of the freshest and finest ingredients right at our door step here on the West coast of Ireland.

Salmon was one of the most common fish in Ireland and a staple ingredient of the Irish kitchen. Fresh salmon is typically poached or fried. Probably the most popular way to enjoy salmon in Ireland is smoked, either on bread, with scrambled egg or simply on its own with a salad side. 

Long lasting tradition and a beautiful product is produced by James and his team here in Killorglin. If you are looking to treat yourself or simply love smoked salmon, call into James. And if you are on the lookout for some of the finest Wild Smoked Salmon, now is the time. If you cannot get there personally, check out KRD Fishery’s website – you can buy online and they will ship their smoked salmon to anywhere in Ireland, UK and throughout Europe.


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