10th August 2017: The success of Donegal’s oyster industry, which is now valued at over €11 million, was celebrated today at the opening of an oyster exhibition at the Doagh Famine Museum as part of the ‘Taste the Atlantic- a Seafood Journey’ trail. From an industry decimated through overfishing in the 1800’s, and almost non-existent 30 years ago, Donegal has developed a successful and sustainable oyster industry employing 317 people and producing 2,475 tonnes of Irish rock and native oysters each year.
The exhibition which celebrates Donegal’s rich oyster producing heritage is one of a number of new visitor attractions announced as part of the ‘Taste the Atlantic - a Seafood Journey’ trail developed by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) in partnership with Fáilte Ireland. The seafood trail which runs along the Wild Atlantic Way route from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal right down to Oysterhaven Bay in Cork offers an immersive visitor experience which aims to develop an appreciation about how our seafood is caught and farmed.
Richard Donnelly, Aquaculture Business Planning Manager, BIM said, “Through hard work and determination over the last 30 years, producers in Donegal have successfully begun cultivating oysters again. The Doagh Famine Museumoverlooking the Crocknagee Oyster farm, which harvests top quality oysters for export all over the world, offers the perfect location to tell the story of an industry which has come full circle. This new oyster exhibition as part of the ‘Taste the Atlantic - a Seafood Journey’ trail further highlights Ireland’s rich coastal heritage and Donegal’s strong oyster industry that is so well renowned internationally, its oysters are now sought after and considered a premium product on lucrative markets including Hong Kong”
The Crockanagee Oyster farm, which can be viewed from the Doagh Famine Museum, is a second-generation family business run by husband and wife, Derek and Sharon Diver from Clonmany. Now a successful oyster business, the Divers employ 20 people who work with the tides to cultivate in excess of 200 tonnes of oysters for the export market each year.
Speaking about the new exhibition, Pat Doherty from the Doagh Famine Museum said, “The Doagh Famine Museum tells the story of how local people adapted and survived as the environment around the local area changed over the years and oysters are a key part of this narrative. The exhibition shows how oysters were widely available on the shores in famine times but locals could not avail of this food source as control of the fisheries was usually enforced by the local landlord. These oysters were then exported to markets in England and overfishing in the 1800’s then resulted in them becoming a little known luxury”.
The ‘Taste the Atlantic - a Seafood Journey’ trail features 22 seafood producers along the Wild Atlantic Way route. Producers from Donegal includeCrocknagee Oysters, Clonmany; Mulroy Bay Mussels; Mulroy Bay; The Haven Smokehouse, Carrigart; Irish Premium Oysters, Lettermacaward and Bluestack Seafood, Donegal.
For a full list of producers on the trail visit www.bim.ie/tastetheatlantic
The oyster exhibition at the Doagh Famine Museum is open every day from 10.00-17.00. Admission costs €8.00 for adults with guided tours every 45 minutes. For further information, visit www.doaghfaminevillage.com.