A Visit to Carlingford Oyster Company

Sunset at Carlingford Oyster Company.
Sunset at Carlingford Oyster Company.

A soft sunset, a quiet breeze, a happy, wet dog nudging at my hand with his nose.

My all too brief visit to Carlingford Oyster Company in Carlingford, Ireland was the perfect way to end a visit to the area. All day, I was looking forward to this final stop on our TBEX daylong press trip from Dublin and my only regret is that we didn’t get to stay longer.

IMG_1642Carlingford Oyster Company is a family company in its second generation. Inspired by a BBC radio broadcast in 1974, Peter Louet-Feisser took a leap of faith and started farming oysters. The company is now run by his son, Kian, and daughter, Charm, along with their significant others. The company has grown as oysters have grown in popularity and they currently ship their delicious product all over Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Kian was our host on this lovely October evening. Unfortunately timing and tide were not in our favor to pull on some wellies and tour the actual farm but Kian gave us a wonderful little tour of the factory as well as a history of the company. And, of course, a few tidbits on oyster farming. Oysters filter about 55 liters of water a day and it takes about 3 years for an oyster to grow to market size at Carlingford Oyster Company – that’s a lot of water being filtered! The location of the company is ideal in that the tide regularly brings in fresh water and nutrients that these little oysters need to remain healthy and to grow.

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JLW_6706The atmosphere at Carlingford Oyster Company was idyllic to say the least. Scruffy, muscled men hauled baby oysters onto the backs of trucks in order to deposit them in the water before the tide came in. Laddy, Kian’s handsome yet curious dog, befriended me and soon we had an exciting game of fetch going on the shore. The sun sat slowly behind us, painting the sky in sherbet tones that were reflected off the still, glass-like water. I can see why the Louet-Feisser family has stayed in this business, farming oysters in this very spot for 40 years. Why would one ever want to leave? Kian later shared a lovely video with me that brilliantly captures the mood of the place.

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IMG_1652At the end of the visit Kian’s lovely wife, Mary, arrived with some adult beverages and Kian cracked open several fresh oysters for us to try. A small table was erected and bestowed with fresh lemons and hot sauce. As I squirted a little lemon over the fresh oyster and let it slide int my mouth I knew that no oyster will never be as delicious as one that is consumed on the shores from which it grew. As Kian gave us a little lesson in how to properly consume these little guys the light continued to fade and suddenly we weren’t getting a tour of an oyster farm, we were enjoying a drink and fresh oysters with new friends. That’s one thing I absolutely love about the Irish: one drink and a couple of laughs will make  you fast friends.

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