Dingle business The Fish Box is built upon a family seafaring heritage that goes back generations. It is more than just food, it’s a labour of love explains Micheál Flannery.
“We’re a family of fishermen. My father was a fisherman and his father before him and his father before. It’s been a fishing family since 1920 that has over 100 years of fishing heritage. It’s such a hard job, it has to be in you to do it.”
So explains Micheál Flannery, co-founder of the wildly popular The Fish Box restaurant in Dingle, aka Flannery’s Seafood Bar.
“With the trawler we catch a lot of the fish ourselves. We just thought that by combining this with local bread, local beer and local vegetables we would be able to create really nice food at a really nice price and be able to have our food tell a story for us”
Flannery co-founded The Fish Box in 2018 with his brother Patrick. His mum Deirdre is head chef and his sister Eimear also works in the restaurant. Almost the entire menu comes from the day’s catch from the family’s own trawler which docks in Dingle..
The popularity of The Fish Box can be seen in the rave reviews and world-of-mouth praise from satisfied tourists and locals alike.
Boat to plate
In recent weeks the Green Street Dingle restaurant was awarded the Best Seafood Restaurant Award at the La Chef Ireland Awards in recognition of the boat-to-plate approach that has been hugely successful for the Flannery family.
“My mother was a chef and my father was a fisherman. Myself and my brother Patrick saw a market opening.
“With the trawler we catch a lot of the fish ourselves. We just thought that by combining this with local bread, local beer and local vegetables we would be able to create really nice food at a really nice price and be able to have our food tell a story for us.”
Born of the sea
Micheál Flannery with his sister Eimear and mother Deirdre
Flannery emphasised how The Fish Box is a full family affair. “We’re all emotionally invested in this. My brother is now fishing the boat full-time for us. My uncle and my father prepare it and my mother cooks it.”
Now employing 25 people with plans to expand into the adjoining building, Flannery said that The Fish Box’s relationship with Bank of Ireland through Business Banking has been instrumental in its growth story.
“We’ve been with Bank of Ireland since Day 1 and they have been more than obliging with us. Anything we’ve asked of them we wouldn’t have been able to get started without them and they were able to share our vision.”
Crucially, The Fish Box is an environmentally-conscious business that prizes sustainability and doing business responsibly.
“We’re trying to add value to our seafood, reduce our days at sea so that we’re not buying so much fuel. Any litter we find at sea we bring it in, so that we’re cleaning the ocean as well.”
The Fish Box is always looking to the future. “We’re building a platform so that the next generation has something to build on.
“My father’s first grandson Conor is now 12 years old and he has started to show an interest in the boat. We haven’t roped him into the restaurant just yet, but we’re working on it!”