Seaweed success in Donegal

Declan Gallagher built a thriving, global business from harvesting seaweed in Donegal.

In 2004 CEO Declan Gallagher founded OGT, a seaweed company based in Kilcar, Co. Donegal. It was privately funded with an original investment of €300,000. The ambition was to sustainably harvest and then process some of the area’s natural seaweed, into a liquid seaweed extract, to sell to the golf industry in Ireland. It’s very much a success story as production levels have grown to 3,200 tonnes per annum with the business employing over 30 full-time staff.
Why seaweed?
I grew up close to the ocean and was always involved in some ocean-related business. Going back the years, farmers used seaweed to enhance and improve grass growth and to improve crop growth in potatoes. I can also remember from a very young age, how my grandmother used to go down to the shore and collect dillisk and bring it home, to dry out at the back of her house. After finishing secondary school, I studied business in Letterkenny Institute and went on to work in my father’s company, which made fishing nets for the large fishing boats in Donegal.
I always wanted to do something for myself, in an industry that I was passionate about. Obviously being from Donegal, a lot of people are into sports and personal experience made me aware that seaweed could have potential benefits for the sports industry. There was a lot of local knowledge on seaweed but not a lot of research. There were no competitors as such to compete with and consequently no blueprint to follow.
“Our liquid extracts help build up the immune system of a plant, similar to a person taking a multivitamin for their health.”
What problem do you solve for golf courses?
The seaweed extract contains small amounts of nutrients and growth enhancers, which allows

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