The reintroduction of oyster farming in Carlingford, County Louth is helping to create a vibrant local business.
The picturesque town of Carlingford in the Cooley Peninsula of County Louth has a long tradition of periwinkle picking. A good winkle picker can make up to £14, with day with one picker noting for one hour picking,
I'll have the price of a packet of cigarettes and a cure.
John has been picking winkles all his life, as did his parents before him. With the creation of the Carlingford Oyster Co-op and the return of oyster farming, he is convinced there is a great future for shellfish in Carlingford.
Disease wiped out the original native Carlingford oysters in the early part of the 20th century. In 1977 a group of locals formed a co-op and planted pacific oysters in the original oyster beds. The co-op now has 100 members and 12 people are oyster farming full time.
Oyster farmer Tom Keenan explains that it takes three years for an oyster to become ready for sale. Oysters wholesale at 10 pence each and there is a £100,000 annual turnover.
Tom Keenan does not eat oysters himself,
Jesus no, I hate them.
Oyster farming is a combination of trial and error and a lot of hard work. In five or 10 years Tom Keenan would like to see,
Carlingford oysters growing and me in the Bahamas.
In spite of initial teething problems chairman of the Carlingford Oyster Co-op Joe McDevitt is proud of their achievements to date. The biggest obstacle to success is getting the product known. This led to the establishment of the Carlingford Oyster Festival in 1979.
During this time we hope to sell about 12,000 oysters locally.
Over the next 5-10 years Joe McDevitt would like to have an additional 60 locals farming their own lot of oysters. He would also like to see the Carlingford oyster becoming as famous as the Galway or Clarenbridge oyster.
Publican PJ recalls Carlingford oysters were held in high esteem for centuries. He never thought they would be grown locally again but
It’s tremendous to have them back, especially in the condition they are in.
An 'Ireland’s Eye’ report broadcast on 18 August 1982. The reporter is Nick Coffey.