Oonagh is a diminutive Irish lass with a big smile and gumboot clad feet planted firmly on the sandy beach. Which is just as well, because massive gales are blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean at Lahinch beach and they could just carry her away.
We meet her on the seashore to learn more about the wild seaweed she collects, preserves and cooks. Lahinch Beach is a few short miles from the famous Cliffs of Moher, situated in a UNESCO Global Geopark known as the Burren. Here you will find age old geology, rich heritage, local farm-to-fork trails and an ecotourism network with locals totally passionate about their craft or knowledge and just as keen to pass it on to visitors from around the world.
Oonagh runs Wild Kitchen which specialises in foraging walks, workshops and cooking demonstrations based on the local seaweed.
From her basket she produces a wide range of seaweeds with different medicinal benefits, mineral levels and tastes. We learn about the strong benefits of eating this sea flora – as well as using it in a bath, to soothe the skin and hair and treat a number of disorders including acne and psoriasis.
After visiting the rock formations where Oonagh gathers her treasures, we wander back up to the seashore where she lays out a picnic table and we dine on her delicacies of wild garlic pesto, seaweed crackers, dilisk and samphire.
Nothing from Oonagh’s seashore garden is ever wasted. If the seaweed is not deemed fresh enough to consume, it is used as a fertiliser for local gardens.
And if seaweed is not your go, the Burren has plenty more on offer. Just head to nearby New Quay Pier for an appointment with Shuck Off Flaggy Shore Oyster Farm for a shucking good time.