The World’s longest running oyster festival:
My greatest disappointment with my two trips to Ireland is that I’ve never made it to the Galway International Oyster Festival, usually held in September to celebrate the start of the oyster season.
I love oysters and Tony loves oysters and Guinness so this festival is really ideal for us, but we’ve missed it!
Origin of the Festival
The Galway International Oyster Festival didn’t originate out of any Irish tradition or medieval cultural belief, but because of one ingenious Irish man’s idea to boost business for his hotel. It’s 1953 and in the first week of September, Brian Collins, the dismayed manager of the Great Southern Hotel, looked around at his near empty hotel and wondered how could he extend the tourist season into September?
Later that day, whilst discussing menus with his head chef, it was suggested that oysters should be on the menu as they had just come into season. The light bulb went on in Brian Collins’ head and he thought “why not celebrate the opening of the oyster season with a festival?”
With the help from local businessmen and Guinness, the first festival took place in September 1954 with a modest 34 guests attending. From then on, everything else is history and today the Galway International Oyster is regarded as one of the most celebrated and longest running oyster festivals in the world.
The festival is four fun-filled days and nights of oyster shucking championship, oyster tasting, parties, parades, food and drinks and, no doubt, lots of Irish humour. You needn’t worry if oysters is not your kind of food as there will be other gourmet and culinary delights for all. But, if you do love creamy Guinness and fresh oysters, you’ll be in seventh heaven here.
Tickets for the various events can be booked in advance from the Festival office.