An ancient 'shell midden' in Culleenamore in Sligo. A shell midden is a place where debris from eating shellfish has been discarded over time.
For thousands of years people have been eating oysters from Sligo Bay, the evidence is found in the countless shell middens found locally. The influence of shellfish over the area is so great that it gave us its' name- Sligo or Sligeach in Irish, meaning 'The Shelly Place'.
In the past, demand for oysters from the area became so high that it led to overconsumption of the native oyster which left the stocks so low that oysters almost vanished form the local shores. Our oyster farming techniques have allowed oysters to become a sustainable foodsource once again. Oyster farming has been taking place in Sligo for over 150 years and we are delighted to be able to carry on this tradition. Although the techniques may have changed somewhat, we are confident that the much sought after delicate flavours of Sligo Bay oysters have not.
Our system of oyster farming ensures sustainability from start to finish. To begin, we source our oyster seed from Kevin O'Kelly in the local shellfish hatchery at Lissadell, this means that we do not have any impact on any naturally occurring oyster seed populations.There are no other inputs into our oysters other than hard work to produce a top quality oyster in both meat and shell. Our oysters feed from naturally occurring algae in the water. The algae itself uses nutrients provided by freshwater sources as its foodsource, these nutrients are used for growth through photosynthesis (just like plants on land). To put it simply; rain and sunlight provide all the food our oysters need for growth, so there is no need for us to add anything to the water and and as a bonus, the bag-on-rack technique which we use promotes growth of seaweed which provides habitats for crabs, perriwinkles and lots of other little sea creatures which all play their part in a healthy biodiverse inter-tidal shoreline. The seagrasses which grow on our oyster bags also provide feeding for the brent geese which spend the winter months in our neighbourhood after flying south form greenland. The fact that we have been licensed to farm oysters in a Special Area of Conservation speaks to the positive impact that our oyster farm has on its' local environment.