Achill Oysters produces farmed Pacific oysters close to a beautiful beach on the Atlantic Ocean around Achill Island.
Hugh O’Malley’s childhood was spent on the idyllic island of Achill. He moved there as a tiny baby, and was brought up fishing with his father and grandfather from a ‘currach’, a traditional small Irish boat, from which they caught salmon and lobster. This was the quality fish and shellfish Hugh enjoyed regularly in his diet as a child. As a teenager, he left Achill to travel to the UK for secondary and university education. But the call of the island never quite left him. Today he spends at least two days a week on the island attending to his oyster farm, Achill Oysters.
Hugh lives and works in Ennis Co. Clare ‘I went to Ennis for a weekend and never left! Eight years later, I now have a wife, two children and a dog in Ennis, but all the family are very much connected to the original family home in Achill.’
In Ennis, Hugh processes oysters he farms on Achill Island, where his parents still live. Achill Oysters produces farmed Pacific oysters close to a beautiful beach, which Hugh says is a ‘nightmare to work on because it is so soft with bog underneath, but it gives the oysters a magnificent flavour.’ Which is probably why big name Dublin chefs are only too keen to get their hands on some.
Achill Oysters are gathered from the pure waters of the Atlantic Ocean around Achill Island, then brought to Ennis to undergo a cleaning process in special purification tanks, which are required by law to process shellfish. This is a business which has grown ‘organically’, as Hugh says. ‘What started off as a hobby in the potting shed at the back of my parent’s house is now a full time occupation. When we started the business we had just two tanks, which have now increased to eight tanks as we speak.’ And we’d like to bet it won’t stop there, for Hugh is a very determined man!
Achill Oysters fully adheres to all recommendations from the Sea and Fisheries Protection Authority and carries Bord Bia’s Origin Green status for companies which adhere to strict production regulations and make very little impact on the environment. After purification, Achill Oysters are packaged in traditional wooden caskets and can be sent directly to customers and chefs nationwide. ‘We are only delighted to hear from anyone who wants our oysters. We can send them anywhere by courier. Our product is tailored to our customers, so whatever anyone wants, we can supply.’
In the busy season, Achill Oysters also processes and supplies oysters from other quality oyster farming areas in Ireland. Origins of these are specified on packaging and labelling.