Our Interview with Fitzsimons Fresh Fish Shop
JL Fitzsimons Fresh Fish Shop is one of the newest additions to Lr Georges Street in Dún Laoghaire, an area described by owner Philip Fitzsimons as ‘a foodie paradise’. ‘Look around me’, he says, ‘we are surrounded by real butchers, Hicks and Murphy’s, the Gourmet Pantry and all these speciality food shops on the street complement one another‘.
Philip started out early as a fishmonger. His father, John, worked in the Dublin Fish and Game markets and he started training his sons when they were in their early teens, ‘that’s what made us what we are today‘, he says. Sadly, his father died seven years ago but the family business lives on and this year, they are celebrating twenty years in business with the opening of their second shop, the first has been in Crumlin for those twenty years.
And it really is a family business. Philip’s brother, John, sells fresh fish in the outdoor market in Dún Laoghaire, his sister Jennifer, works in Crumlin and his uncle Hughie Cummins runs the new shop.
So, why Dún Laoghaire? ‘We had built up a great reputation and after twenty years, it seemed like the right time to expand. Dún Laoghaire was screaming out for a good fishmongers’. Then they were lucky enough to find a traditional fish and game shop, Lamb’s, that had traded in the town for eighty years, ‘it was wonderful to take over a tradition like that, I haven’t even changed the sign yet’, he says.
And what of his new customers? Remember this is a shop that has up to thirty species of fresh fish on the counter every morning, most of it coming from Kilmore Quay in Wexford and Castletownbere in Co Cork. Philip says customers are willing to try new species ‘but you have to make it easy for them, you can’t just slap it in the bag and give it to them. You have to take the time to explain how to cook it, we are a real fishmongers, just specialising in fish, that’s what separates us from the supermarkets’.
Philip acknowledges that a lot of businesses have had a hard time in recent years ‘but things are really coming on now and Dún Laoghaire is a great place to run a business. It should be marketed as a ‘foodie paradise’, he says.