Faces of the Sligo Food Trail
THE twin themes running through Glenn Hunter’s life are clearly the sea and mechanics. Together they have combined seamlessly allowing him to travel the world and earn a living back home.
The quintessential ‘ boy’, Glenn was always fascinated by engines and mechanics. As the son of a dairy farmer, he grew up around tractors and agricultural machinery learning both to operate them and how to troubleshoot when things went awry. After finishing school it was a natural progression for him to study agricultural engineering and this took him to Nantwich in Cheshire (of cheese fame). Two years there left him with a qualification which would take him wherever he wanted to go.
He took full advantage of the possibilities, spending a year each in Australia, on Vancouver Island in Western Canada and in San Francisco interspersed with periods back in Sligo. While at home he worked as an agricultural contractor and also got involved in the shellfish enn terprise, originally called Coney Island Shellfish, which his father and other local businessmen had set up. While abroad he worked as a mechanic fixing all manner of machinery.
It wasn’t all work while Glenn was travelling the world. Along with a friend he spent a memorable six months in Central America exploring exotic countries which most people could barely pinpoint on a map. They travelled through Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras and Colombia. Glenn’s favourite was Columbia, technically the northernmost country of South America. Conquered by the Spanish in the 1400s it is one of the ethnically most diverse countries in the world with 68 different languages and is stunningly beautiful.
On an island off Honduras Glenn did a two week PADI course, qualifying him as a SCUBA diver which opened up the world of the ocean from a fishes eye view. He was hooked and diving has since.
All good things come to an end however and ten years ago Glenn returned to Sligo, for good this time. Coney Island Shellfish had evolved into Wild Atlantic Oysters where he has worked ever since. The waters off the west coast of Ireland are amongst the best in the world for growing been his passion ever shellfish; evidenced by the fact that almost 100% of their market is in Asia. Twice weekly chilled bulk loads of oysters wing their way across the world and 36 hours after leaving Sligo are on the tables of five star restaurants in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Back home Glenn also runs the Wild Atlantic Oyster Cart, his own brainchild which first saw the light of day at the All Ireland Fleadh in 2014. From it he serves sea fresh oysters in the shell, surely the most natural food in the world. Since then Glen and the Cart have been in high demand at elite events and upmarket weddings all over the country. You could say the world is his oyster….
Left: Glenn Hunter of Wild Atlantic Oysters. Above: Wild Atlantic Oysters fresh from Coney Island! #SligoFoodTrail