No slim pickings for fish-mad Shanahan
THE International Oyster and Seafood Festival is returning to its spiritual home, 57 years after it began there.
Internationally recognised as one of the leading food festivals in Ireland, the three-day event returns to the Hotel Meyrick in Galway, previously the Great Southern Hotel.
The original festival was established in 1954 by the then hotel owner, Brian Collins and local publican Paddy Bucks, as a way of extending the tourist season into the quiet Septembers.
Galway oysters only come in to season in September, and although the first festival was only attended by 39 people, it set the wheels in motion.
Swelling attendance numbers soon meant that the festival had to be moved to bigger and more open locations around the city.
However, this year, organisers say that extensive planning and a massive marquee means that the venue will be set to host around 10,000 visitors from all over the world.
Former chairman of the festival Paul Fuller said: "We as a board decided to approach the Meyrick and ask them to take over the running of the festival.
"We felt they could provide a new angle and it's great for it to go back to where it all started."
Seafood guru and RTE star of 'Martin's Mad About Fish', Martin Shanahan, yesterday officially launched the festival, which will be held from September 23-25.
"The native oyster is one of Ireland's main resources and Galway oysters are praised and shipped all over the world," Shanahan said.
One of highlights is the National and World Oyster Opening Championships. Current Irish champion and former world champion Michael Moran is the seventh generation of his family to compete.
"People really have to see it to believe it," he said.
The festival is expected to generate around €5m for the local economy.
Further details can be found at galwayoysterfestival.com.