Oysters and Carlingford are synonymous, the people of Carlingford have been harvesting oysters since medieval times and there are several references by historians and scholars of bygones passed referring to them. Oyster, from the Latin oslrea, is the name generally understood to signify the species of Ostracean bivalve, called Oslrea edulis, which is one of a numerous genus, characterised by an inequi- valve shell, composed of two irregular lamellate valves, of which the convex or under one adheres to rocks, piles, or the shell of any other individual. The animal is unprovided either with a byssus or a foot : — it is the best flavoured of its class of Mulusk, and has, consequently, been always much esteemed. Vast oyster beds in Carlingford are artificially formed, and attended to with great care, at the estuary of the Carlingford Lough and many other localities, where the temperature of the water is somewhat raised, by a mixture of salt and fresh, in which they best thrive.
It’s one of the largest employers in the region and on average ten tonnes of these famed sea delicacies are shipped both nationally and internationally every week from one of Ireland’s smallest villages.
Oyster Farming is most certainly a labour of love and requires great skill and knowledge to ensure that the oyster seedlings grow to their fully matured age in which they are ripe enough so that they can be shipped to anxiously awaiting customers worldwide. As the Oyster grows it can filter up to 55 litres of seawater per day, it utilises filtering as a means to get all the nutrients it requires. As Carlingford oysters live on the water of the lough, the water that flows from Slieve Foy and the Mourne mountains provides it with unique assortment of nutrients which provides the Carlingford oyster with its distinguishable crisp flavour . After three years the oyster is ripe and ready for sale. At the point it is carefully prepared for the market. Only the very best get to be sold to the public.
In the History Books
Carlingford has always been a famed location for both its beauty, culture and its Oyster farms, In one edition of the Dublin Penny Journal the following was said;
We think our wood-cut well calculated to catch the eye of a Dublinian. For lives there man, woman or child, in our good city, that has not heard of Carlingford, though but few have seen it. Carlingford – so renowned for its delicious oysters – oysters known as well to the poor mendicant who is tasked to crush their shells, as to the rich merchant who gobbles down their delicious insides – oysters as far superior to every other testaceous creature that open its bivalve to the tide, as to an Englishman is plum-pudding when compared with flummery – oysters, that give luxurious suppers to man, and open his heart as the knife opens the shell! In vain may the Parisian boast of his Carcale, the Londoner of his Colchester, or even our western shores of their green-finned Burrin, exquisite Pooldoody, or delicious Lisadill – who dare compare them to a rale Carlingford? Ye Aldermen of Dublin, and all who have experienced night after night the indescribable delights of a feast of oysters, and a flow of punch, come and give us all due credit for presenting you with a picture of that dear spot from whence your delights do come, and for giving “a local habitation and a name” to the birth-place of what your souls desire!