Making waves in Donegal with Sustainable and Innovative Seaweed Solutions

[Source: Donegal County Council]

One of the fastest growing biomasses in the world is seaweed, which offers a more sustainable, scalable, and healthy future for future generations, and Donegal is surrounded by it! The untapped potential of seaweed boasts an incredible level of versatility across sectors including health, food production, agriculture, and far beyond. 

One innovative entrepreneur who saw the benefits and uses of seaweed from a young age is Carrigart native, Lorraine Gallagher, Founder and General Manager of the newly established ‘The Seaweed Company’, based in Mulroy Bay, Downings in West Donegal.

‘The Seaweed Company’ has been a passion project for Lorraine for several years, having applied for the aquaculture licence in 2013 which was granted in 2018. From then, it has been all steam ahead for Lorraine, “I went for coffee with my now business partners, and I said ‘Guys, I have been granted an aquaculture licence to cultivate seaweed and I want to make an impact on the world, they were aligned with making an impact on the world and from then, The Seaweed Company base was established in Ireland. 

It was important for Lorraine to be able to establish this facility in Mulroy Bay as not only is it where home is, it also provides the environment needed to achieve her ambitions “We have such an amazing coastline here in Ireland and we have Class A waters in Mulroy Bay, my brain started ticking and putting all of these elements together and I said, we need to set up here”.

With a background and experience in not only aquaculture but also in biochemistry and human nutrition, Lorraine was perfectly placed to delve into this innovative sector “My family have always worked in aquaculture, my earliest memories are on the water!”.

It was during the summers and weekends spent helping her family business where Lorraine discovered her aspirations “I was literally in my element, learning marine biology, learning the business of farming on water but also, really learning how to love and respect the water ”.

There are endless opportunities for utilising seaweed to become more sustainable, The Seaweed Company have developed an innovative proposition aimed at tackling the significant carbon footprint and health issues associated with the meat industry on a global level. “We would propose that our customers add 20-25% of organic seaweed to the beef burger, this reduces the overall carbon footprint and saturated fats, while increasing fibre and nutrients. Its overall healthier, better for the environment and can extend the shelf life by one day”.

The talented core team which has been established is the driving force for Lorraine and provides a dedicated support system “We have got the most amazing team. Their experience, their education and their ethos. We’ve been so lucky with our staff, and they love living in Donegal”.

Lorraine Gallagher, Founder of The Seaweed Company. (Photographer: Loïc Wall)
Lorraine Gallagher, Founder of The Seaweed Company. (Photographer: Loïc Wall)

Lorraine has exciting plans for the future of the facility in Donegal. The facility currently utilize approximately 25 hectares of a potential 350 hectares to expand into. “We have a great capacity to expand and grow and utilizing our processing facility so that its running for more months of the year than it currently is. We see ourselves having an opportunity to make a big impact and to provide lot more job opportunities soon”.

Having relocated from London to her home of Carrigart after 7 years, Lorraine has reflected on the impact that decision has had on her and her business “It’s great to have a base where we can work from, to have somewhere we can bring clients and customers while also being close to our family, our homes and to the seaweed farm”.

Her staff, who have also relocated to Donegal have reaped the rewards of the incredible work-life balance and the quality of life available here “Of course, we have the beaches, and such a beautiful area, we all just really want to live in Donegal, and we’re delighted that our job allows us to stay here”.

Having that base in Donegal has also had a positive impact on the business with regional supports like BIM, Enterprise Ireland Údarás na Gaeltachta assisting them with the development and establishment of the business in Downings. “I did the ‘Start your own Business’ course with Enterprise Ireland and it was fantastic, a real help to us.”

“We are an Údarás na Gaeltachta client and they were a great support in giving us the opportunity to establishing the seaweed processing facility. BIM have also been a huge support to us along with the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine for securing European Funding”.

The future is exciting and innovative for ‘The Seaweed Company’ in Downings, and we are excited to see them make waves in their sector and indeed, in Donegal.

Learn more about The Seaweed Company at: