Pictured: Lar McCarthy at his traditional stall in Clonakilty, whilst one of his team tends to customers in Bandon.
A familiar face selling fish at Harrington’s Corner at the bottom of Clonakilty’s McCurtain Hill every Friday, Lar McCarthy of Atlantic Catch is taking a big step forward with the family business by opening a new shop, The Fresh Fish Shop, on Main Street in Bandon. The tradition of selling fish in Lar’s family dates back as far as 1821: His mother, grandfather and great grandmother all stood at Harrington’s Corner before him.
Offering an excellent selection of fish, collected fresh off the boats in Castletownbere and Union Hall, The Fresh Fish Shop also employs a fulltime chef to create its signature line of cooked seafood products, ranging from fishcakes to fish pies, giving families a choice of ready-to-go healthy, tasty and affordable meals. The shop also has a selection of seafood stirfrys, salmon in hollandaise sauce, homemade fish fingers just to name a few, as well as a collection of olive oils and Spanish soups and sauces.
Alongside the new shop in Bandon, Atlantic Catch also has two mobile refrigerated vans covering West Cork bringing the freshest of fish right to your door; the company supplies wholesale to hotels and restaurants, and in keeping with tradition, Lar can still be found at the bottom of McCurtain Hill every Friday.
Although he now employs a team of four, Lar still works every day from 5.30am until 8.30pm. He is involved in every aspect of the business, from travelling with the mobile fish shop or delivering to a hotel, to being on hand in store or filleting a fish at the Atlantic Catch filleting unit in Reenascreena. “It’s busy,” says Lar, “but we’re a great team, more like a family really.
“Our priority is to deliver ‘fresh’ fish, not even a day old, to our customers. We pick the best of it then bring it back to our professional filleting unit, where it’s all prepared.”
Long before the days of refrigerated mobile vans, Lar’s grandfather used to travel by horse and cart to Kinsale to buy fish fresh off the boats. “He’d load up the cart in Kinsale and travel all the way down to Castletownbere, selling fish house-to-house along the way and sleeping in farmers’ sheds at night. Wet bags placed over the fish kept it cool during the long day. He would then buy more fish off the boats in Castletownbere and work his way back to Clonakilty. Those were difficult times but he was an amazing man to do all this and provide for his family,” says Lar proudly.
And so the tradition continues with Lar but moves forward with the times to land the best catch of fresh fish right on the doorstep of West Cork.