In November of 2015, Sligo-based business Seatrails took home the Ocean Hero Business of the Year Award, given by Clean Coasts Organisation under An Taisce. This was a monumental achievement for Seatrails founder Auriel Robinson and we caught up with her to find out a bit more…
Congrats on the award, how did you go about getting nominated for this prestigious national honour?
Thanks a million. I set up Seatrails in 2013 with a clear view in mind – to create and increase the general public’s and visitors’ awareness of the natural environment and of ancient heritage sites that are located within that environment, be they underwater, on the coasts or inland in an enjoyable and active way. Practising this throughout my trails and through the running and assisting with beach cleanups led to the nomination (without me knowing)!
How important is conservation of the marine environment to Seatrails?
Extremely important. When tourists come here, they want to get outdoors. If rubbish is lying around on beaches, it looks awful. One can or bottle can ruin an amazing view. The marine environment has been impacted by man and nature since time began and there are some things that we cannot control. However, I strongly believe that if we all do our bit towards keeping our seas and coasts clean and rubbish free and teach the younger generations in particular, this in itself will provide us with a healthy marine environment and we will all benefit from this.
A clean sea and coast also puts out a very strong message no matter where you are in the world – it shows that a particular nation are proud and aware of what they have access to and value it hugely and that makes a promising future for the environment overall. I have traveled to many countries where I have seen horrendous amounts of pollution in the water. It is repulsive and unnecessary. We have a stunning island and coastline but we are not saints either. Ireland has to take more action here.
Many of your trails are around the Strandhill area, who are your trails most suitable for?
My trails are suitable for all age groups, for anyone who just wants to relax and unwind and for those who want to learn a bit about the area and the local heritage. Once I know the group size, age and preference, I can recommend the right trail for them. Some options are the Queen Maeve’s Trail (up Knocknarea Mountain which is more of a rugged trek), the Strandhill Heritage Trail (shore-based covering the Shelly Valley and Culleenmore Strand area) and the Killaspugbrone Monastic trail along a looped coastal path.
Any exciting developments for 2016 for Seatrails?
Every year is different to the last. I have started to combine the Strandhill Heritage Trail with gastronomy – freshly cooked shellfish is served at a midden site by the shore. I work with a local restuarant on this, to provide an ‘al fresco’ experience that ties in nicely with what the Wild Atlantic Way is all about- experiencing the place and tasting the delicious, locally-sourced food! If the weather won’t allow the dining side of it, we can go indoors after the walk to the restaurant.
I also have a nice new Strandhill package that includes a number of activities including walking, cycling, seaweed baths and supping/kayaking all in the Strandhill area. Details can be found on my website. In addition to that, this year, I am listed in Fodors Travel Guide to Ireland and the Rough Guide to Ireland so that should bring new adventurers this way. I love combining horse riding with heritage and I intend on doing lots of Spanish Armada trails this year on horseback. Who knows what else the year will bring – that’s the exciting part.