Fishmonger nets top food award for lifetime's work
NICKY McLaughlin can remember a time when he helped catch 50 boxes of squid off the Irish coast but had to dump them all because nobody would buy squid.
He can also remember being without electricity or running water during the first six years of business at his shop in Howth, because the authorities didn't want him operating.
Yesterday he was presented with a rare lifetime achievement award by the Irish Food Writers' Guild for his 50 years' work as a fishmonger.
The 75-year-old started his Nicky's Plaice on Howth Pier in 1960. "We were limited to the amount of fish you could sell. We had ray and cod and whiting, plaice and a bit of sole. There was very little other fish.
"We had prawns but nobody wanted them. As for squid, I can remember fishing and getting about 50 boxes of squid and we had to dump it.
"Nowadays they're going mad for prawns and squid."
Back then, Nicky's Plaice was a roofless storage hut on Howth Pier, and the target of objections from the Board of Works, which owned the harbour. But as his reputation for quality products grew, top chefs began to shop there. Others recognised by the awards yesterday, which were held at L'Ecrivain restaurant, in Dublin, included: Moonshine Dairy Farm in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, for its organic milk; Knockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese in Stoneyford, Co Kilkenny, for its sheep's cheese; and Kettyle Irish Foods in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, for its free-range chickens. Omega Beef Direct in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, won the environmental award.