In 1887 Castlegregory businessman James O’Donnell won the contract for the construction of the Maharees road. About the same time he began burning seaweed in Maharees for the production of kelp. He was helped with the kelp production by James Boland and Thomas O’ Connor from Fahamore from the time they had left school in 1887. James O’ Donnell had initially used the sunken oven process but found that a ‘Soupers’ Pot’, one of the one hundred gallon soup boilers used by the Castlegregory Relief Committee in July 1847, was more efficient. O’Donnell employed others to produce kelp. During the 1890’s, the Congested Districts Board constructed five kelp enclosures in Maharees, costing a total of £75, and ten raised kilns, costing £60. The burning of seaweed to produce kelp usually commenced on 1 June, weather permitting. The appearance of smouldering kelp fires in Maharees signalled the arrival of Summer.
James O’Donnell then built the Kelp House close to the Point Gap in Fahamore. This was a small thatched cottage used for the receipt and storage of the kelp. The kelp was exported to France as ‘soda dye’, thereby escaping the payment of duties. In France, the two main derivatives extracted were carbonate of soda and iodine. The soda was used for the manufacture of soap, glass and dye for the linen industry. Iodine was used in medicines.
James O’ Donnell died on 5 June 1898 following a short illness, aged 44. His death came as a great shock to everyone in the parish and beyond. When James O’ Donnell died, the kelp industry in Maharees died with him and the Kelp House in Fahamore was abandoned. It was purchased by Thomas O’ Connor, Fahamore, following his marriage in February 1900 to Catherine O’ Mahony, Áth Chaisle. He later converted the building into a dwelling house that has remained in his family to this day.