One of the country’s best loved seafood connoisseurs, Martin Shanahan, has launched the 58th Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival.
The annual seafood extravaganza has become a real highlight of the city’s calendar in recent years, with upwards of 25,000 people expected to consume around 60,000 oysters, as well as 20,000 pints of Guinness, over the three- day festival.
The event is set to provide a welcome windfall for the local economy, and festival chairman Cian O’Broin was keen to emphasise the economic value of such a high-profile occasion.
“Food tourism is an ever- growing concept, and we would expect the festival to produce a direct economic investment of around €5m to the city alone, so it’s very important for Galway,” said Mr O’Broin.
A 33% rise in overseas visitors is set to boost the festival’s international profile, but will Irish people be dissuaded by the recent shellfish contamination on the west coast which prompted a public health warning form the Food Safety Authority?
“No, not at all,” assured Mr O’Broin. “That controversy was really based around wild shellfish harvesting, whereas our commercial producers are strictly regulated and tested on a weekly basis, and many of them have already got the all-clear so there won’t be any problems there.”
Notwithstanding the pervading recessionary angst, it is hoped revellers can splurge on the west’s assorted seafood delights, with the average plate of oysters set to be reasonably priced at around €12 in pubs and restaurants across the city.
Mr Shanahan, based in Kinsale and star of RTÉ’s Surf n’ Turf, said: “The festival is one of the most renowned seafood celebrations across the world. The west coast produces such a fine catch and festival-goers are in for a real seafood treat.”
The festival runs from Sept 28-30, with the Guinness World Oyster Opening Championship and the Gala Mardi Gras on Saturday 29 being billed among the festival highlights.
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