Visitors to Ireland are being encouraged by the Irish Tourist Board to consider a seafood experience that will truly give them a flavour of the island. But why not consider a visit to an oyster farm yourself? Isn’t it time you learnt how oysters, mussels and clams are grown, how salmon is smoked, or seaweed dried and prepared for market!
Taste the Atlantic
A selection of some of the best tours available along the West coast is now being marketed as ‘Taste the Atlantic, a seafood journey’ as part of the Wild Atlantic Way Experiences package. And the selection offered should suit all tastes; from simple exhibitions and audio-visual tours to full live demonstrations, walking tours, shucking practice and onshore tastings, you can get just as up close and personal as you like with our wonderful Atlantic bounty!
The tours themselves generally require pre-booking and not surprisingly are subject to tides and weather but the smokery tours particularly can be fairly flexible. What’s more Clarke’s Salmon Smokery in Mayo offer local anglers the opportunity to smoke their own catch while Connemara Smokehouse can do tours in French and The Burren Smokehouse will even organise picnic hampers for their visitors.
Experience the Atlantic
A number of the farms have joined up with other places of interest to create a full package of activities like the Doagh Famine Village visit and Crocknagee Oysters in Donegal, or here in Sligo where the Oyster Experience takes in a farm, a visit to local Lissadell House & Gardens as well as a tasting experience in WB’s Coffee House in the town. And of course, if your tastes run to a more ‘convivial’ atmosphere for sampling your fresh oysters and mussels, then there are a number of local bars and restaurants the growers will be happy to direct you to.
There’s something for everyone; whether you visit Mungo Murphy’s in Connemara where you can learn all about edible sea plants, seaweed and sea herbs or the Flaggy Shore in Clare to hear about how big an influence the environment plays in the flavour and development of the oyster. Take a boat tour out along the mussel longlines with Killary Fjord Shellfish; select your own oysters to sample with Kerry Premium Oysters or even go dolphin or whale watching after taking in the trestles at Roaringwater Bay in Cork.
There are over 20 locations from Donegal to Cork so wherever you find yourself on the WAW route there should be a farm nearby. Prices range from €10 to €35 for the tours and the price range reflects the range of experiences on offer. A full list and an interactive version of the map can be found on the WAW website.