"Feamainn" Behind the Bezel interview with Graham Gannon

A Northern Irish kelp farmer, Deep Sea Diver and father 

Graham Gannon Peninsula Kelp Company

With our ambassador films, we want you to really understand the people we call family. To help, we send out a questionnaire to be completed honestly. The responses returned by Graham, make us want to better ourself and inspire us to look after each other and our planet. Happy reading.

What drives you to explore?

I guess the fear of mundane, monotony of existence, the quest for knowledge, experience and fulfilment the older I get the more this is evident to me now. 

What are you passionate about the most?

My connection with nature, the sea (my mistress my wife calls it) the mountains, our wonderful planet, learning but definitely sharing. I think we have become disconnected from nature so I feel it’s important to try get the message out 

At what point in your life did you feel like you truly began to belong? What were you doing?

Mmmm a hard one really, growing up I always felt like a round peg in a square hole so to speak. I did play football but my heart was always connected with the sea - spearfishing, snorkeling from a very early age. The mountains and the scouts played a big part in my life, I felt at ease there. Back to my time at sea as a young deck officer to the military 

Have you ever suffered on an adventure? When was it? What were you doing? Did you dislike the activity after?

Suffering on an adventure yes; I like to suffer, it makes you feel alive, most definitely, blistered feet, sunburned eyes, navigational mistakes, loss of equipment, listening to my wife cry as we got weathered out on dangerous ridges in the French alps - that was hard! I had to hide my fear to be a better leader and reassure her we will make it down.

Being disoriented inside a shipwreck after a diver on front of me kicks up all the silt, adrift at sea when your outboard gives up the ghost. All this and more but no I never felt or disliked the activity, I learned from it. The next time I went out I tried to be more prepared both physically and kit wise having a greater self awareness! I feel I'm constantly learning which is great. 

Have you ever been conflicted whilst on an adventure/ outdoors? Have you ever had to make a difficult decision?

Lol yes - conflict with myself! The biggest issue I see here is peoples ego that causes conflict, to be honest I have always listened to my gut instinct it’s funny but it has saved me a few times at the time I might have felt some peer pressure but it has always worked out for me.

Scotland winter mountaineering weather was closing in above us on the valley, we rode out the night in the tent, next day I could see a big depression moving in I elected not to make the climb but to tab back out of the valley to our base location. Yes I got some stern looks but the other 3 guys went on, one guy slipped on a snow bridge above a river, fell in and went down badly, then a white out came in and they struggled to get off the mountain.

Have you ever had to make a sacrifice for an adventure/whilst farming? Or make a sacrifice whilst on an adventure?

Not so much a sacrifice but I have had to definitely adapt my mindset and attitude to make things work. Yes I have gone short to make deadlines, but I believe in cheerfulness in the face of adversity, and teamwork when your self employed you never quit, you pull out all the stops.

How did you become a Sea Farmer?

I grew up outside a fishing village called Howth, my grandfather and grandmother where beach combers we loved seeing what the new tides would bring us. Seaweed was always part of our lives. If it wasn’t in our garden helping our veg grow, it’s high concentration of nitrates it was in our soups as it’s packed with iodine, iron and lots of other wonderful minerals. My journey through life brought me back to seaweed as both my wife and I saw how unhealthy people have become so sharing the message of this super food is key to us both.

Graham Gannon Peninsula Kelp Company

You are drawn to the water! Why is this? What appeals to you about the ocean?

Growing up not far from the water it’s been a big part of my life, my wife jokes that the sea is my mistress! As much as I love being in the mountains and other remote locations, the sea I need to see her, smell her, feel the salt on my skin. I started diving in 1975 when I persuaded my father to buy me my first set of mask, fins and snorkel in Spain - I was 5.

How would you explain your relationship with adventure/farming in a single sentence?

Both are absolutely crucial to me, it’s just who I am, I never get bored. I'm always planning my next little adventure, I am working hard to make this a lifestyle, make it sustainable to feed my family and give us a good quality of life.

Graham Gannon Peninsula Kelp Company

How would you define yourself in a single sentence?

My glass is half full, I am driven but humble. I love my life, I'm always looking to improve and be a better me, father, husband, son, brother, friend, teammate.

When are you at your happiest?

It’s the simplest of things doing what I love. I try to find joy every day as it’s a constant, I remind myself to never say ohhh I’ll be happy when that happens.  Whether it be diving, hiking, mountaineering, spearfishing, making stuff with wood, DIY, painting or drawing, commercial diving, sharing a sandwich with my kids and a flask of tea on a windswept beach - lots of things make me happy.

What is your greatest fear? Have you ever been scared on an adventure/whilst farming? 

Not living a full filled life. Missing an opportunity to progress, learn and grow! We all think we have time, we don’t. We live in a cancelling culture now it’s easy to just text and say "nahhh I'm not going today" I work hard at not to let this into my mindset. My children think I'm like a Sergeant Major at times because I make them do stuff, but I know they will benefit from the experience later comfortable being uncomfortable.

I have been scared many times on adventures. I try to recognise what I'm feeling, 9/10 I have been here before in some form in my life so I try to talk my way around it, through it, stay in my 3 foot world and break the problem down. I find helps. I do get scared a lot when I'm looking for dead people underwater, on underwater searches, every time, but I talk my self through it, fear keeps you sharp. 

What is your daily routine?

My days vary so much that’s why I enjoy my life!

Currently: Up at 0620 wake my daughter up -Set out breakfast, drink lemon water - Drop her to school bus. 

I'm lucky to live next to some great trails, so I trail run with my dog (my knees can’t hack the road anymore) then usually a bodyweight workout - currently following Aldo Kane’s expedition fitness program. Fitness is really important to me as a diver and in a work capacity, but also mentally too.

Check tides - if tides are good I’ll pack my kit, grab a coffee and go harvesting. Sometimes my wife comes along if she has the time, she bakes our legendary dulse crackers most mornings.

Harvesting can take up to 3 hours depending on how much I need.

After diving, I’ll take seaweed to our allotment to clean salt off, lay it out to dry, water our plants and vegetables, and do whatever maintenance needs to be done, then head home for lunch.

Graham Gannon Peninsula Kelp Company

I'll upload any GoPro footage and edit while having lunch. Usually we have orders to go out as we ship worldwide so I’ll catch up on that, take orders to post office and any deliveries that need done locally. 

Pick daughter up from school 

Possibly mill seaweed if our stocks are low. Top up stocks on kelp popcorn, our coffee, salts, etc. Post up footage to social media, answer emails 

Evening meal is spent catching up with family, we eat at least one meal a day together and talk. Dads taxi is usually on call and then finally sit down to plan for next day. 

My days are so varied and that's how I like it.

If you could have a perfect day, what would it look like? What would you do? 

Ha! My wife laughs at me as I try to fit so much in to my day! 

Perfect day, would have to be during the months of May, June, July - My Favourite time of year. I love the early sunrises. 

Up at 5 am, trail run or bike - Circuits - Coffee 

Pack dive kit, speargun or if it’s a deep wreck dive - go on a lobster hunt. Load up car and hit the beach. After the dive, break out my cooker and cook with friends on the beach - something as simple as just bacon, eggs, coffee and good comradeship fills my heart.

Head home to see my family, put the lobster or scallops and crab claws in the fridge. Take my girls either sea kayaking, stand up paddling, or a walk in the woods. Pick up some nice wine, crack open our dulse sourdough (It's epic) Spark up the grill, prepare the day's catch and serve crab claws as starter, light our fire in the garden, enjoy dinner outside with family and friends, laughing  and relaxing till the sun goes down. 

This is just one of my favourite days. Days like this are simple, but fill my heart with joy.

Graham Gannon Peninsula Kelp Company

How do you find inspiration?

I read a lot, listen to podcasts - I love history. I find inspiration daily from my readings. My children inspire me to be a better man, I just want to be a good father, give my family a good quality of life. We only have one lap around the sun,  it’s crucial we run it well.

What is the biggest obstacle you have had to face in your life so far? How did you overcome it?

Wow this is a hard one! Self belief. I lost this for a period of time, I let people get in to my head, negative nay sayers, I look back and I kick myself for this. I made so many mistakes, I failed at so much. In hindsight, now I run a mile from what I call mood hovers - people who suck you dry. Unfortunately, at times, because of this I feel I didn't full-fill my dreams, I have to learn from this and teach my kids not to fall where I did. I try to build on this daily. 

What do you value the most in this world?

I value the following:

Family - Honesty - Kindness - Integrity - Loyalty - Friendship - Respect - Teamwork 

What do you believe to be the purpose of life?

To help others. To teach my kids resilience, life skills ,to be better people and to be better than me to go further to see and do more than I ever have. To teach education and respect for our planet, our duty of care for our planet. I think this world needs more love and kindness 

What is the craziest belief you hold?

Honestly had to think about this one... I don’t actually have any crazy beliefs. I'm not religious, I'm a retired catholic I no longer go to church - nature is my church. I'm very easy to please, easy to get along with. The earth is round, I was a navigation officer at sea so to the flat earthers, I say leave your bedroom and explore more you’ll get it. I understand the laws of physics, if you don’t in diving you will die. I understand the laws of the universe, the laws of manifestation and laws of attraction, I don’t like a lot of what I see at the moment in the world it saddens me.

What achievement/feat are you most proud of?

Ohhh I have so many meeting my wife , my daughters - they are my kryptonite, I was too small to be a royal marine that fecking haunts me but I became a royal Irish ranger.

Being a commercial diver is definitely one. Starting Peninsula Kelp Co. The wonderful people I have met on my life journey. Running a mountain marathon just recently - I did the coast to coast in 2015 360 km in 24 hours, run, bike, kayak, bike then run across the mountains to raise money for child cancer. I did an underwater marathon in 2017 , I built a trail on the sea bed to help divers , I then organised the uk first underwater marathon 26.5 miles done as a relay team to raise money for charity and bring people together 

I have many more quests and challenges to do, I'm 51 now and just getting warmed up. 

Have you ever had any moments in life that have helped define you?

Learning to be a better me, having the self awareness and understanding me, through the adversity I have experienced, build resilience there is so much I have learned and to learn! Life is a lesson 

What is a new skill you would like to learn?

To learn mixed gas diving, rebreathers and to be able to afford one.

I’d love to learn to fly , my dream would be to have a go in a old Vietnam Huey helicopter and an Alaskan bush float plane. 

Be a better photographer and understand lightroom 

To be a better businessman 

Roll my sea kayak like a Jedi 

Sail a yacht 

Be better at IT and design. 

Have premise to work from a home for peninsulakelpco 

Own a Land Rover Defender 110 

Grow my own vegetables and be sustainable 

Create my own craft beer 

Give my family a great life 

How do you take time to develop yourself?

I listen to podcasts and books a lot. I read when I can; I have a shelf with a list of books right now from Jason Fox, Aldo Kane, Marcus Aurelius, sea kayaking expedition planning, African Bush Wars, Running A Small Business, Bushcraft, wild edibles and foraging all which I will get though this winter. I journal daily; I like to use a pen and paper. I draw and paint. I don’t watch TV anymore as I prefer YouTube where I can learn skills - TV is destroyed these days with fake reality crap 

What are your long term goals?

I need to make peninsulakelpco a house hold name. Seaweed isn't just a current trend it’s fed our island for a millennia, it’s a super food. There are so many sick people walking around now, relying on big pharmaceutical companies feeding them pills, instead look at your diet - nature is your drug store! Real food is our medicine, ocean vegetables are on this earth for a reason, unfortunately a lot of people find us when they are sick - thyroid, heavy metals etc. I want to help people before it gets to that state! Build their immune system.

I want to develop my raw product make it better. When I can afford it, I’ll get better packaging which will up my game, unfortunately it’s all about marketing I need to find someone with more exposure to the world than me and help me get the message out this is challenging. 

If your time was currency and you had to spend it all doing one thing, what would it be?who would it be with? And why?

I would would spend it with my family doing what we love doing together, my family are all outdoor people so it’s easy to do, rain or shine it’s goretex til end ex!  Life is too short.

I would love to travel more, take my girls to the barrier reef, experience the best the sea has. Explore reefs, shipwrecks, catch and cook fish on the beach, cook over open coals and share it. Let them see the sun rise over the French alps, climb a high alpine peak, drink from a high mountain-stream, boil snow to make a coffee, eat Swiss chocolate, taste French cheese. Ski, climb, swim with dolphins, see a shark in its habitat, watch a turtle lay its eggs in the sand on the beaches of the Accession Islands, see the deserts of Oman, the stars in the Southern Hemisphere.

Why? Because these things to me are important. I once asked a kid if he wanted to come hillwalking in the Mourne mountains, he asked what mountain I was going to climb, I told him, he googled it and said nah sure what’s the point he can see it from his computer!  This attitude horrifies me.

This earth is a beautiful place we live on! Let’s explore it and take care of it. 

Finally describe Graham Gannon in 3 words?

Driven - Gentleman - Adventurer

Graham Gannon Peninsula Kelp Company