SEAWEED & PERIWINKLE
On the shores around Murrisk there is an abundance of seaweed which has many uses. For centuries coastal communities used it to fertilise their crops, particularly potatoes and hay meadows.
In Murrisk each small farmer had his own plot of seaweed. In earlier times each farmer went and laid stones on the strand so that weed could grow on them. Passage-ways were left between each plot so that the horse or donkey and cart could pass between the plots for harvesting to take place. These areas became known as the ‘Carrigeens’ and some of these plots are still visible.
In later years when a seaweed factory was set up in Westport and Newport, farmers cut the seaweed, and laid it along the shore above the high water mark. Here it dried, and was then transported by tractor and trailer to the factories. It was another way in which farmers could supplement their income from the sea.
In winter time when the weather was unfavourable, some fishermen and farmers would gather periwinkles around the local shores, and if possible cross to the islands when weather and strands were suitable.
The periwinkle was then sold to local fish buyers and eventually exported to France.
If a fisherman met a ‘red haired women’ on his way to the pier it was considered unlucky. Some were even known to turn back and go home.