West Cork Distillers pay €1.5m for former fish-processing plant in Skibbereen

Rapidly growing West Cork Distillers, which was set up by local Union Hall ex-trawlermen and who now export to over 35 countries, have paid c€1.5 million for a former fish-processing plant on Skibbereen’s Marsh Road to allow them to continue their spirit-based business growth trajectory.

Three years ago, when turnover hit €3.5m, West Cork Distillers leased the 10,000 sq ft West Cork Bottling plant on 1.25 acres in Skibbereen and invested €500,000 in equipment in this former Heineken-operated plant.

Now, after further strong growth WCD has again cast its net locally, acquiring the former 56,000 sq ft Rockabill fish processing plant on 11 acres on the Marsh Road, Skibbereen, close to the bypass and town centre.

The site has a long, and proud, local history of food production, right back to the 1960s and the setting up of a food co-op there under the Erin Foods brand, under the watch of General Michael Costello and the Glencolumkille, Co Donegal radical priest, Fr James McDyer.

It had been put up for sale earlier this year for €1.65m after Balbriggan-based Rockabill announced that white fish quota changes would see them move much of their processing business to Northern Ireland, to also capture UK and Scottish trade. 

The new WCD-acquired extensive building, and its sprawling West Cork town site, was previously owned by the Fastnet Coop, and was sold by a receiver in 2001 for a sub-€1m sum to the Price family, owned Rockabill Seafoods, who operate their own 14 trawlers. The plant was to employ 30.

Now, it has been sold once more, again by local agents Charles P McCarthy & Co to the 2003-founded West Cork Distillers, and it had been refurbished to BRC (British Retail Consortium) global standards for food processing. 

The same agents located WCD to the smaller bottling plant site in Skibbereen in 2013, at a time when the company’s turnover was trebling every year, and when it employed eight.

It was established in 2003 by the entrepreneurial West Cork distiller Johnny O’Connell, who brought on board as business partners his first cousins, experienced Union Hall fishermen Denis and Gerard McCarthy.

WCD began in Union Hall, in back garden sheds, and has grown exponentially, getting a reported €1.5m in private investment earlier this year via Merrion Capital clients. 

It manufactures a range of gin, vodka and malt whiskey drinks, including Pogues, Lough Hyne, Drombeg, and Kennedy, named after the former US President.


: McCarthy & Co 028-21533


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