Wild Atlantic Oyster producers grow their Supreme oysters in the cool Atlantic waters of Sligo Bay on the North West coast of Ireland. Distinguished by a firm texture, rich flavour and a strong, robust character these oysters have an exceptionally long shelf life.”
This is attributable to a number of critically important factors:
- Sustainable management and control of the production cycle from hatchery to maturity,
- Continuous cultivation using brood stock traceable genetically over forty years,
- Socially and environmentally responsible practices in harmony with nature
Wild Atlantic Oyster identifies the oyster producers of Sligo, located in the extraordinarily beautiful environs of Sligo Bay on the North West coast of Ireland. Nestled between the iconic mountain of Ben Bulben to the North and the historic Knocknarea to the South, the greater bay area incorporates Drumcliffe Bay and Lissadell on the northern side with Ballisodare Bay to the south and Sligo Inner Bay encompassing Oyster Island, Coney Island and Cummeen Strand in between. Together these bays have a distinguished history of oyster cultivation spanning two cenruries.
In 1855 the ‘Sligo Journal’ referred to “…the large and valuable beds of oysters in the vicinity which yielded a profitable return to their proprietors. The value of oysters is becoming enhanced year after year in the London and other markets.”
To quote historian John C. McTernan:
“In the late 19th century there were twenty-one licensed beds in operation – ten in Ballisodare Bay; five in Sligo estuary and two in Drumcliffe, with smaller beds at Moneygold and Milkhaven.”
Further references by Mc Ternan give an indication of the value attached to oyster production at the time: “…the Lissadell beds, which were in the ownership of Sir Robert Gore-Booth and whose oysters enjoyed an established reputation both at home and abroad, became the target of a daring plunder.” He goes on to reference a dramatic and colourful account of oyster piracy from the Sligo Chronicle of 1864
What makes our oysters so special? Is it nature or nurture?
The Pacific oyster was introduced to Ireland in the early 1970s under strict quarantine protocol in collaboration between University College Galway’s Shellfish Research Programme and the U.K. Ministry of Fisheries. The stock was sourced from British Columbian waters similar to our environmental and climatic conditions. We confirmed its suitability to Ireland’s Atlantic coast through a Research and Development programme over the next 10 years. A study of the genetics of the stock by the university zoology dept. confirmed excellent breeding potential and also concluded that it differed substantially from the strain being farmed in France. We believe that it is more suited to our environmental conditions and as such has consistently produced top quality dependable oysters.
We have been breeding this oyster commercially at our hatchery in Sligo for the past thirty years, and our selection for good shell shape and high meat quality has produced a pedigree highly sought after, not only for excellent taste, but for its long shelf life, maintaining its Atlantic freshness, to the delight of the consumer. We have traceability from the moment of spawning, through nursery feeding with home grown, natural plankton, to careful on-growing techniques in our local bays, through which we capture the flavour of the ocean in every shell.
In short we took one of nature’s specials and nurtured it to perfection.