Seaweed is an important coastal product in the West of Ireland. In addition to its traditional use to enrich farmland, it is harvested commercially for culinary and therapeutic use, particularly in Co Sligo, and Frank and Betty Melvin of Carrig Fhada Seaweed, at Easky, are long-established experts who have earned a nationwide reputation for their work.
Now often called sea vegetables and recognised as ‘superfoods’, culinary seaweeds are explored and explained by Sligo GP Prannie Rhatigan who has reintroduced these once familiar foods to a new generation through talks and her book, ‘Irish Seaweed Kitchen’ (www.prannie.com).
Growing interest in the area is also perhaps partly due to the increasing number of Japanese restaurants thriving in Ireland. The seaweeds currently most widely used in cooking (throughout Ireland) are carrageen moss (carraigín) and dillisk (duileasc), both of which feature in the Carraig Fhada range along with kombu (the Japanese term for kelp).
Using seaweed for therapeutic purposes is an age-old practice - Kilcullen’s Hot Seaweed Baths (www.kilcullenseaweedbaths.com) at Enniscrone are famous worldwide - and Carriag Fhada Seaweed’s range includes products for therapeutic use, including their popular Atlantic Seaweed Bath.