Sligo to feature on Oyster Trail
Wild Atlantic Oysters, the brand under which a number of oyster producers of Sligo trade, has been revealed as one of the seafood producers to be profiled on the ‘ Taste the Atlantic- a Seafood Journey’ trail along the Wild Atlantic Way route.
The trail, which offers visitor attractions designed to highlight Ireland’s seafood and coastal heritage was developed by Bord Iascaigh Mhara ( BIM) in partnership with Failte Ireland.
The oyster producers of Sligo between them employ 33 people and produce in excess of 170 tonnes of oysters each year.
Visitors on the ‘ Taste the Atlantic – a Seafood Journey’ trail can now learn about Sligo’s rich shellfish producing heritage. Sligeach, meaning “Shelly River”, derived its name from the abundance of sea shells found in the bed, and along the banks, of the Garavogue River as it meets the sea in the 7 km long estuary to Oyster Island.
Along this stretch of water, rich beds of flat or native oysters were harvested over generations until the stocks were depleted in the early years of the twentieth century.
Jim O’Toole, CEO, BIM said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to tell the story of Sligo’s oyster heritage to visitors. The Wild Atlantic Oyster producers have been cultivating the Irish rock oyster for the past 40 years. Through careful management of the production cycle, they ensure the sustainability of this valuable resource which offers a distinctively local Sligo Bay flavour, much sought after at home and on the export market.” The oysters cultivated in this area are sourced from a local oyster hatchery run by Kevin O’Kelly in Drumcliffe Bay - one of only three oyster hatcheries in the country – and grown and matured along several sites in the pristine Atlantic Ocean.
One of the founding members of Wild Atlantic Oysters, Charlie Kelly from just outside of Sligo town, started farming clams and oysters in 1986 in Lissadell. Speaking about his experience, he said: “I have always loved the sea going back to childhood family holidays in Mullaghmore and my student days’ lobster fishing and angling on inshore boats.
“I originally trained as a teacher and owned a fish business before I began growing oysters.
“I never actually got to teach in the classroom but I am happy to educate anyone who will listen about the fascinating world of oyster cultivation!”
To learn more about Sligo’s oyster heritage on the ‘ Taste the Atlantic – a Seafood Journey’ trail, people are invited to visit Lissadell House where a special exhibition tells the story of oyster farming in the area.
Alternatively, the Wild Atlantic Oyster Cart, a mobile unit which offers a fresh and healthy alternative to the normal fast food is managed by one of Wild Atlantic Oysters youngest members, Glenn Hunter and can be booked for events and festivals..
Charlie Kelly of Wild Atlantic Oysters