Galway International Oyster Festival
The Galway International Oyster Festival is a food festival held annually in Galway on the west coast of Ireland on the last weekend of September, the first month of the oyster season. Inaugurated in 1954, it was the brainchild of the Great Southern Hotel (now Hotel Meyrick) manager, Brian Collins. In 2000 was described by the Sunday Times as "one of the 12 greatest shows on earth" and was listed in the 1987 AA Travel Guide one of Europe's Seven Best Festivals.
The Galway International Oyster Festival was created to celebrate the Galway Native Oyster as it is a unique feature of Galway City & County. Hotel Manager, Brian Collins had been searching for something unique to attract more visitors to Galway in what was then, a quieter month of the year. Collins discussed the idea with the folk at Guinness and Patrick M. Burke's Bar in Clarenbridge and the first Galway Oyster Festival was created in 1954 with a whole 34 attendees.
The festival was originally held in Clarenbridge village during the day and the Great Southern Hotel in Galway City at night until the mid-1980s when it grew so large, all of the festivities were held in the city centre of Galway. There was a red & white striped marquee at Spanish Arch and then at Nimmo's Pier by the Claddagh. In order to reduce ticket prices, the festival changed location to The Radisson Hotel Galway in 2009 but due to popular deman, the marquee was brought back in 2011 and the festival was renamed as the Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival.
The main events are two Oyster Opening Championships, the Irish Oyster Opening Championship and the World Oyster Opening Championship. Other events include a beauty pageant to select the Oyster Pearl, and a Masquerade Gala 'Mardi-Gras' style event where revellers have a different course in 3 different venues. Guests of Honour at this event have included television presenter Gay Byrne, retired Taoiseach Charles Haughey, international snooker player, Ken Doherty and chefs Clodagh McKenna, Richard Corrigan and Martin Shanahan.
- Keeble, Jim (2000-01-16). "The Greatest Shows on Earth". The Sunday Times.
- "History of the Festival" (HTML). Galway International Oyster Festival Website. Archived from the original on 2006-02-15. Retrieved 2006-05-04.
- Thanks for the Memories, 1954-1994, Forty Years of The Galway International Oyster Festival
- "Roll Call of previous Guests of Honour at the Oyster Festival" (HTML).
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