Local Stories: The Sea Gardener

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After years of looking to far-flung destinations for memorable eating experiences, there’s been an exciting resurgence in the popularity of native Irish cuisine. At the same time, a healthy interest in delicious, nutritious, locally-sourced food is on the rise.
Stunning Waterford shoreline

See Marie’s Story

See Marie’s Story
These new culinary passions are where seaweed – a naturally healthy, traditional Irish ingredient – comes in. Growing up on the Copper Coast in County Waterford very close to Kilfarrasy Strand, Tramore native Marie Power was first introduced to seaweed as a child, it being part of the local diet. These days, she delights in foraging around that same area – harvesting goodness from her seaside ‘secret garden’.

Having done a seaweed cookery course, Marie began experimenting with the bounty she’d gathered, incorporating it into various dishes – served to people who loved the results – and building up a delicious repertoire of recipes. This evolved into ‘The Sea Gardener’ cookbook – which includes tips for those who’d like to give foraging a go themselves. Marie has produced a range of foods for those who simply want to give seaweed a taste without having to find it and cook it. She also provides a more hands-on education by leading expeditions, showing groups how to identify different types of seaweed.
The Sea Gardener foraging
The view from Kilfarrasy Strand
Marie in her kitchen with some of her products
Left: The Sea Gardener foraging | Middle: The view from Kilfarrasy Strand | Right: Marie in her kitchen with some of her products
Marie has seen how people are now embracing the plentiful wild ingredients which coastal dwellers have been consuming for generations. “Around the millennium we realised – this is what we have on our doorstep: indigenous, natural, homegrown ingredients. Seaweed fits into that.”

Seaweed is also appearing on restaurant menus at places like Momo in Waterford City, and the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore.
The Copper Coast
Seaweed bread, fresh from the oven
Kitesurfing in Tramore
Left: The Copper Coast | Middle: Seaweed bread, fresh from the oven | Right: Kitesurfing in Tramore
Waterford “has a long tradition of seaweed” and Marie is very much a part of this special region. “I consider myself lucky to be still living and working here, and to raise my family here – and what I love is the variety of places we have.”

“I spent all my time on the beach – my mother loved mountains, so we went for picnics to the Comeragh Mountains too.” In fact, mountain enthusiasts are truly well served; the area also offers the peaks of the Knockmealdowns to explore.
Hiking the Comeragh Mountains
The Waterford Greenway
Enjoying the view from the Knockmealdowns
Left: Hiking the Comeragh Mountains | Middle: The Waterford Greenway | Right: Enjoying the view from the Knockmealdowns
Alongside its timeless natural beauty, there are fresh developments in the locality to enjoy, like the Waterford Greenway. In Marie’s words, “The Greenway has been totally revitalised – it was always industrial, but its mills, workhouses, railway tracks had fallen into disrepair. Now it’s all coming together.” These days, the Greenway is a delight for walkers and cyclists alike of all ages and abilities.

All this, plus a fascinating Viking history – whether the attractions are age-old or newly-improved, there’s no place like it for Marie. “It’s a very authentic welcome that you get in this county – we’re not part of Ireland’s Ancient East for nothing!”

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