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Nicky’s Plaice – Tall Sails & Fishy Stories

Nicky McLoughlin and Son Martin Wrestle With The Catch

“I’ve always loved going out to sea because of the vast open space and the fresh air. I vividly remember one particular day that I was fishing on my cousin’s boat. At the time I was married, and I was only earning five to 10 pounds per week. I needed a steady income. My Uncle Alex McLaughlin said to me,“it’s a wonder a young man like you is not looking for a better job”, which is when he told me he owned a shed on the West Pier, which I could turn into a fish shop.

So in July 1960, I opened Nicky’s place, unaware of the hardships which lay ahead. Initially, I was refused water and electricity so I drew buckets of water from the pier. Back then the water was crystal clear. I lit the shop with a glass lamp which I hung from the ceiling. I asked another relation of mine, Joey McLaughlin to work with me. He was great, helping to put on a new roof and cement the walls. Finally after two years water and electricity were installed in Nicky’s Plaice when I began to fish, a big one.

When I began selling fish, my customers only ate fish on Fridays, a religious fasting day. In order to supplement my income, I carried coal for the local hardware store on the pier at the start of the week, and worked my fish shop from Wednesday to Friday. Next, I decided to build a smoker for smoking cod, mackerel and herring. In fact, we tried to smoke every kind of fish, some of which worked, and some didn’t. The trial and error led to our renowned smoked salmon, which has been in production for 14 years.

Now I enjoy retirements but still enjoy lending a hand in the shop when they need me. Most days I swim in Balscadden Bay and walk along the pier. I love meeting our customers and have a chat when I’m out and about. If you see me, don’t be afraid to come up and say hi.”

Nikki McLoughlin – In Conversation

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