Donegal’s oyster industry has made massive strides and is now valued at over €11m.
That success is being celebrated today at an oyster exhibition at the Doagh Famine Museum in Lagacurry, Co Donegal.
The exhibition is part of the ‘Taste the Atlantic — a Seafood Journey’ trail.
The growth of the Donegal oyster is all the more remarkable when one considers it was almost destroyed through overfishing in the 1800s.
Thirty years ago, it was almost non-existent.
However, it now employs 317 people and produces almost 2,500 tonnes of Irish rock and native oysters every year.
The ‘Taste the Atlantic — a Seafood Journey’ trail has been developed by Bord Iascaigh Mhara and Failte Ireland.
The trail runs along the Wild Atlantic Way from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal south to Oysterhaven in Cork.
Richard Donnelly, aquaculture business planning manager with BIM, says Donegal oysters are now so renown internationally that they are considered a premium product on lucrative markets, including Hong Kong.
Pat Doherty, of the Doagh Famine Museum, says the exhibition shows how oysters were widely available on the shores in famine times.
But locals could not eat them as control of the fisheries was usually enforced by the local landlord.
These oysters were then exported to England and overfishing in the 1800s resulted in them becoming a luxury.
The ‘Taste the Atlantic — a Seafood Journey’ trail features 22 seafood producers; those from Donegal include Crocknagee Oysters from Clonmany; Mulroy Bay Mussels; the Haven Smokehouse, Carrigart; Irish Premium Oysters, Lettermacaward and Bluestack Seafood.
Full details on the exhibition can be found at ww.doaghfaminevillage.com