Our Success Story

The Reilly family has been an integral part of the East Neuk fishing community for generations.

Their story is a reflection of the ever changing face of fishing in Scotland and the determination of a family to create a successful, sustainable shellfish business.

Raymond and Graeme Reilly continue to run the family business, established by their father, Paddy, from the Shed at the Harbour in Crail. The Shed and Cellar, where lobsters and crabs are prepared, are part of the family house, located on the picturesque harbour in Crail. This quaint property was rented by their Great, Great Grandfather who, along with other East Neuk fishermen of the time, spent months at sea following the whaling fleet, in order to earn a living. It was gruelling work.

Following the demise of the whaling industry, the East Neuk fishermen turned their hands back to catching herring, spending time at sea on drifters, following the shoals of fish. When at home the men caught lobsters and crabs, as additional income.

Ironically Raymond and Graeme's father was not from from a fishing family. Far from it. He was one, of a large family of farmers in Ireland. As his family dispersed to all parts of the world, Paddy came over to Scotland, to work as a plasterer. It was here he met Wilma, Raymond and Graeme's mother, and they were soon married. Paddy knew nothing about fishing and was very wary of the sea but there were expectations when joining a fishing family.

One thing Paddy enjoyed, and was very good at, was selling things. So the compromise was that he would man a smaller, inshore creel boat, catch lobsters and crabs and then sell his produce at the Harbour in Crail, from his cellar. This suited him perfectly and so Reilly Shellfish was born. Paddy soon built up a loyal clientele of locals and those who holidayed in the East Neuk, many coming back year after year to visit the Shed.

Some years later, one of his sisters, who had settled in New York, was sitting in the hairdressers leafing through a magazine. She was totally amazed to see a photograph of her brother, Paddy, smiling back at her from an inside page, holding a lobster, dressed in his characteristic blue boiler suit and wearing his favourite berret.

On leaving school his sons Raymond and Graeme, having worked on bigger boats for a while, joined their father fishing out of Crail Harbour, preparing the daily catch of crab and lobsters for their growing number of customers and selling them from the Cellar, from Easter to the end of September, each year.

Raymond and Graeme continue the tradition, to this day. Although their boat, Comely 455, now sails out of Pittenweem Harbour, they take the catch of the day directly to the Cellar at Crail Harbour, where it is prepared and sold.