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Fish Farming Frustration!!!



Fish Farming Frustration

Frustration is about expecting the world and its inhabitants to be, act or react as you wish.

My frustration is very real. In fact I am sure I cannot be alone. I certainly felt that frustration today when I spoke to a department official yet again asking him to explain the latest delay in movement on our Aquaculture licence application. Frustration is an understatement as he spoke for 10 minutes giving away absolutely nothing and making me none the wiser.

The general public have absolutely no idea what is going on within the Aquaculture industry. I believe there are approximately 600 Aquaculture licences pending. We have been waiting for over two years for our existing Aquaculture licence to be issued and I can tell you the aquaculture licensing system does not square with the phrase “the best little country to do business in” as any sensible investor would be forgiven for turning their back on this bureaucratic nightmare. The story is the same the county over.

Fish and shellfish farmers are frustrated to the point of abandoning a sector with obvious potential that is being strangled by public service inertia. Unfortunately we are dealing with is a lack of decisive action and hands-on management of the licensing problem. Simon Coveney take note. I will not lay off.

I have a responsibility to my 88 year old Father in law who started this business 54 years ago. I have a responsibility to my four young children and to the future of Goatsbridge Trout Farm.

We, like many other companies, cannot access funding to reinvest in our little fish farm here in Kilkenny and we have already postponed our new development on two occasions in the last two years. We cannot do this without a current licence in place.

In reality, I have learned that in Ireland things are as they are, so no amount of ranting and steaming is going to change that.

But I do feel a little better now and tomorrow is another day!





“It’s far from caviar you were reared“


Real Views: Sunday Business post – Mag Kirwin, Goatsbridge Trout Farm

Sunday Business Post article 08/09/2013

Begrudgery and negativity is an attitude often described “the Irish disease”.  It is in fact a social phenomenon, known as Tall Poppy Syndrome. We are surrounded in this economic climate with a lot of pain and negativity and as a business owner I really think this will have to change if we are to get out of the situation we find ourselves in.

“It’s far from caviar you were reared“

The day Goatsbridge Trout Farm launched Ireland’s first Trout Caviar my mother, a successful and experienced business woman herself, rang to wish me well and congratulate me on an RTE News appearance. Her first words were: “It’s far from caviar you were reared“. I laughed heartily at her comment, but understood it was in fact her way of telling me how proud she was.

God only know it is far from Caviar I was reared but my mother showed me that anything is possible. She was eight months pregnant with her 10th child when my father died suddenly of a heart attacked aged 45. Less than two years later my ten-year-old brother died unexpectedly.

My mother had every excuse in the world to sit back and feel sorry for herself.  But she was inspirational, going on to rear us all and build a very successful international horse sales business in Kilkenny,  Goresbridge Horse Sales, with my brother Martin.  She instilled in us a sense of belief and showed me and my siblings that with positive actions and attitude anything is possible.

Do Well But Not Too Well?

Every day we hear of companies going into liquidation. Do we wish others to do well but not too well in case their success might reflect our own comparable lack of success? Deep down it helps shift the attention of our own weakness to the misfortune of others.  In many cases it is a domino effect and something beyond the control of the company in question. The true measure of success is how many times you can bounce back from failure.

Remember a defeat is not bitter unless you swallow it.

The world is full of a lot of fear and a lot of negativity, and a lot of judgment. I just think people need to start shifting into positivity and happiness. As corny as it sounds, we need to make this change.


There can be life after a business failure. I am thinking about Bill Cullen whose empire collapsed quite publically and dramatically last year. Unlike the media I am more in awe of him now as he continues spreading his views on positivity and the message that we can bounce back after failure. I told Sarah Newman after things went drastically wrong for her business last year, that I look forward to seeing her next success and I certainly believe I will.

What about the fascinating story of Paul Diver who purchased The Sandhouse Hotel in Rownowllagh Co Donegal in March 2012 for a tenth of its asking price. He got the staff of the hotel to invest in the venture. They had a great summer. This is a perfect example of how a business can bounce back from the brink – and in the doing so Paul secured 50 Irish jobs. A well-deserved Down To Business person of the month award which he received last Saturday. Yet again another example that anything is possible.

Building something of lasting value – be it business or personal – does take some pain and disappointments. Most of us at some point along our journey will stumble and fall. But the rewards and successes always outweigh and overshadow the bad times.

Positive Thoughts

Have I ever had negative thoughts and considered giving up on fish farming? How do you think I feel when my customers choose French and Spanish trout over Goatsbridge Trout  because the cost of production is higher here in Ireland? How do you think I feel when I see a pond of fish under pressure in high temperatures, low oxygen or flood waters where you are at the mercy of the Gods? I stop and remind myself that  if fish farming was  easy everyone would be producing trout so I count my lucky stars , take the good with the bad and get on with .

Embrace Positivity

So let’s embrace positivity, because positivity will breed success especially in business. I like to surround myself with positive and happy people. I think positivity as well as negativity is contagious. My sister Miriam Donohoe from MD Media introduced a hashtag on twitter called #positiveireland which has done a lot to spread positive news on social media. Others are also doing great work in this space.  Samantha Kelly is another person who is spread good news digitally. She started the #irishbizparty hashtag with weekly “tweet” meetings for emerging business people.

Why not go online today and help spread the message of positivity so we can talk ourselves out of this recession. Or why not come to The National Woman’s Conference in Portlaoise on October 16th and 17th where I have being asked by my local Enterprise Board to speak? I promise you’ll find it full of #positiveireland like-minded female entrepreneurs.

Mahatma Gandhi once said:

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviour. Keep your behaviour positive because your behaviour becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”

Let’s hope that our destiny is success and happiness in our businesses and our personal lives.

European Seafood Expo in Brussels

European Seafood Expo in Brussels

Goatsbridge Trout Farm Take The First Steps

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”  Martin Luther King, Jr

Goatsbridge Trout Farm took its first step towards the export market last week when we participated at the European Seafood Expo in Brussels over  the course of three days . What a positive experience and certainly the right move.

Bord Bia did an amazing job as usual and we were absolutely bowled over by the response from the customers for our products and display.

Lessons learned:

What customers want:

  1. Quality products. Irish products are the best in the world. Please believe it.
  2. Sustainability as opposed to standards.
  3. A Story: everyone has a story so it is important to communicate it effectively.

WE have a book full of contacts. Now all we have to do is turn a few into customers.

Wish us luck.


Thomastown Town Of Food

town of food

‘What kind of Muppets are those guys sitting in the middle of a river having a picnic?!???’

I overheard a couple of ladies having a conversation at a conference in Kildare a few weeks ago. I leaned over a grabbed the newspaper to realise I was in fact one of those crazy people. We will do anything to get notice here in Kilkenny and the news was spreading fast. Thomastown had been selected to be the food hub for kilkenny and had secured up to €775,000 worth of funding from Kilkenny Leader partnership to make that a reality.

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Winners of Irish Times Innovation Award for Food/Ag 2013

intertrade photo mag and ger Goatsbridge


Goatsbridge Trout Farm Win The Irish Times Innovation Award for Food/Agriculture 2013

It has been a long time since I posted a blog but now is as good a time as any to get back into it.

Goatsbridge Trout Farm were crowned Ireland’s Most Innovative Food Company last weekend in Belfast at the Irish Times Awards, where we beat off some of the best companies in the land like Glenisk and Mash Direct. If we do not maximise on this win it will just be an ego boost and we have not got time for ego here with so much work ahead.

Good news for Goatsbridge as we embark on our journey in the export market. We are taking a stand at the Brussels International Seafood trade show for the first time so wish us luck.

Onwards and upwards!


Welcome to our Goatsbridge Premium Irish Trout

Goatsbridge Trout Farm was established in 1961 and it is situated near Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny in Ireland. Goatsbridge Trout Farm is a blooming family farm, where we produce fresh and high quality premium Irish trout.

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