|Hello, I’m Sally Barnes and I have been smoking fish for longer than I care to remember, close to Castletownshend and Skibbereen in West Cork. I raised two daughters whilst juggling a burgeoning career in fish-smoking with being the land-based part of my then husband’s commercial fishing enterprise.||
Having asked for their assistance over the years, my younger daughter, Joleine, started working alongside her mum in 2000. Her skills are unique and obvious, and she is now totally in charge of all production at the Smokery. Testament to her skills are the many Great Taste Awards which she has brought to the business, especially in 2006, when the Smokery won the highest accolade granted by the Guild of Fine Food, the Supreme Champion Award, for her smoked wild Irish salmon.
As we were a fishing family, we were not inclined to start working with farmed fish, hence when the Irish Government were pressured by an EU campaign to ban the fishery at sea for wild salmon, at first we assumed that our careers would be over, just when we had gained our biggest accolade........ Thankfully for us both, we were approached by an artisanal family fishery business in the east of Scotland, offering to supply us with sea-caught wild salmon again. We appreciated the family nature of these fisherfolk, and their ideals, and they continue to supply us with fabulously fresh wild salmon each year, with a percentage of their incomes going towards their local hatchery.
We continue to be dedicated to the ethos of the Slowfood Movement, having participated many times in ‘Salone del Gusto’ in Turin, both with sales of smoked wild salmon and in the workshops during the Fair, and at ‘Slowfish’ in Genoa also. The Woodcock Smokery workshop is a centre for learning and teaching smoking skills with Slowfood students and fans also. The educational side of the movement is something which we feel strongly about, and participation at their events has permitted us to speak out publicly about some of the causes of fish populations crashing in recent years, not all of which are due to overfishing.
A third generation of fish smokers is growing up now too, with Joleine’s daughter lending a helping hand when needed, but she wouldn’t stand still and have her photograph taken!