For millennia, nutrient-rich Irish seaweed has helped sustain the people of Western Ireland. More recent generations, particularly after the 12th century, relied on the benefits of seaweeds in local remedies, diets and farming practices.
The Irish seaweed industry grew in the 18th century using kelp ash in glass manufacturing and seaweed broadly as a source of iodine. In the twentieth century, local leaders and communities worked together to bring Alginate Industries (Ireland) Limited, the precursor to Arramara Teoranta, to Cill Chiaráin. As Alginate Industries Limited opened for business, it started us down a path to one day become the longest operating, sustainable processor of Irish seaweed in Ireland’s history. Here is our story.
Alginate Industries (Ireland) Limited opened for business in 1947 in Cill Chiaráin, Connemara, County Galway where the Irish language, culture and heritage are preserved and protected. Originally, Alginate Industries was a private enterprise, purchasing storm-cast Laminaria hyperborean, also known as sea rods, from local Harvesters, which was then dried and exported for alginate extraction in Scotland.
In 1949, the Minister for Lands acquired shares in the company, the goal being to create reliable economic opportunities for local Harvesters and factory workers by selling the abundant species of seaweed spread throughout the picturesque inlets and bays along the West Coast. Local Harvesters embraced this partnership, bringing their seaweed to Alginate Industries, confident we would buy their seaweed at a competitive price.
As our business grew and deepened in the Gaeltacht, so did our commitment to Irish culture. In 1955, we made the choice to change our name to Arramara Teoranta – Arramara being the phonetic pronunciation of “Earra Mara” two Irish words meaning “Sea Products” and “Teoranta” meaning Limited. Two years later, as the Department of the Gaeltacht came into existence, the shares of our company, held by the Minister of Lands, were transferred to the Minister for the Gaeltacht.
As business thrived, Arramara opened facilities near Newport, County Mayo and at Dungloe, County Donegal, providing coastal communities with expanded sources of income. In 1962, we changed our concentration from Laminaria to the hand-harvested intertidal seaweed species Ascophyllum nodosum. The collection of this species is a time-honoured tradition along Ireland’s West Coast. This led us to develop a species-specific approach, responsibly processing Ireland’s seaweed resource for domestic and export uses.
Over the years, Arramara Teoranta worked to adhere to its core values while innovating with a changing world. We centralized our operations in Connemara – a proud, resilient Gaeltacht region – and fortified our operations in Cill Chiaráin, achieving greater efficiencies around resource management, logistics and production.
By 1987, that majority shareholding was transferred to the Minister for the Marine as part of the Government’s Marine Policy. The minority shareholder, now the NutraSweet Kelco Company, had played a huge part in the success of Arramara by being its only customer for the first 40 years and accounting for 75% of its total production. As the decades went by, Arramara became known to both Irish customers and people in countries around the world as a reliable source for the finest value-added seaweed products to boost the quality of animal feed, crop nutritional products and soil conditioners.
The beginning of the 21st century brought more exciting changes. For years, the Department of Marine and Natural Resources owned 82% of Arramara, sharing the remaining 18% with ISP Alginates, a Scotland‐based subsidiary of a multinational corporation.
By 2006, Údarás na Gaeltachta, (a State agency with a mandate to promote Irish language, social, cultural and economic activity to sustain western communities) had acquired 100% ownership of Arramara – with the intent of finding a long-term partner to grow Arramara’s market share and Ireland’s seaweed sector.
In their search, Údarás not only sought out a company with the financial strength required to grow Irish seaweed processing, but one with the seaweed expertise, knowledge of advanced processing technologies, global market experience and a deep commitment to sustainability. After a thorough search for the ideal company, Acadian Seaplants Limited was chosen, and in May 2014, Arramara Teoranta joined the Acadian family.
Today, Arramara Teoranta stands humbly on the shoulders of giants. Through a combination of time-honoured traditions, extensive scientific research into our nutrient-rich Irish seaweed, and the work of our forefathers, Employees and Harvesters who supply us, we will continue to provide rewarding jobs to our West Coast communities and sustainable growth to the Irish economy.