A Co Down fishmonger who has been serving customers across Northern Ireland for four decades says he hopes to be fit enough to work on for another 40 years.
Gerry McNabb, known affectionately to his many customers as ‘Gerry the Fish Man’, was recently presented with a special memento by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to mark his 40 years trading at the weekly markets in Larne and Ballymena.
After ditching thoughts of a career in the Royal Navy, Gerry started work as a fishmonger while a teenager living in Ardglass.
He worked for the Cochrane family for more than 25 years, and after they ceased trading he spent a couple of weeks weighing up his options before deciding to continue selling fresh seafood across the Province himself.
Despite the early mornings, long hours and extensive travelling, Gerry says he has “loved it”.
“I love it. It is a big part of my life. It is not really like work, it is just like going out and meeting friends,” he said.
“Our customers aren’t just customers, they are more like friends because we have got to know them over so many years. People come back week after week, year after year, and believe it or not I am now dealing with some of their children.”
As the longest-standing trader at the Wednesday market in Larne, outgoing Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Lindsay Millar, recently presented Gerry with a special clock in recognition of his contribution to the borough’s markets.
Although most markets aren’t as busy as they once were – something Gerry puts down to changing shopping trends and the growth of the big out-of-town supermarkets – he still trades weekly in Lisburn, Larne, Antrim, Dungannon, Ballymena and at St George’s in Belfast, as well as running Silverfin Seafood Specialists in Newry.
Asked if he is considering retirement, the busy 56-year-old father-of-six and grandfather-of-17 says he has no plans to hang up his apron any time soon.
“Hopefully I’ll be fit to do another 40 years,” he laughed.
Gerry, who knows many of his customers by name, added: “I’d just like to thank all my loyal customers for all their support and friendship over the years.”