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September 25-28 2003
 
Festival History
Festival History | The History of the Oyster
The Oyster Pearls | Oyster Opening Champions
Guests of Honour

 

History of the Festival

It was the first week of September in 1953 and the worried manager of the Great Southern Hotel – Brian Collins – was looking at his near empty hotel. How could he extend the tourist season into September?

 

Later that day, while discussing menus with the head chef, it was suggested that oysters should be on the menu as they had just come into season. An idea came into Brian’s head –“why not celebrate the opening of the oyster season with a festival?” – “In September 1954 we will have an oyster festival!”

True to his word with help from local businessmen and Guinness, the first festival took place the following September with 34 guests attending the first Oyster Festival Banquet and from such humble beginnings grew what is now regarded as one of the most celebrated and longest running festivals in the world.

Some Golden Moments Of The Last 50 Years

1954
The first ever festival takes  place

1958
Over 300 guests attend the festival

1960
3000 oysters consumed over the weekend which was attended by famed film director John Huston.

1968
The 1st world Oyster Opening Champion is local man John Cummins in a time of 3 mins 34.8 seconds

1971
1st UK winner of the oyster opening championship, Sam Scott

1975
21st Oyster Festival celebrations with Anita Leslie as Guest of Honour

1977
Pascal Spellman hosts his last festival show after 23 years. Irelands Willie Morans opens 30 oysters in 1 min 31 seconds - still a world record to this day

1982
40000 oysters consumed

1984
Festival moves into Galway City as part of the Quincentenial celebrations. Friendship band visit city for first time

1985
Sir Anthony O'Reilly is Guest of Honour

1987
The AA Travel Guide lists the festival as one of Europes Seven Best Festivals on a par with the Munich Beer Festival

1991
John Hume Guest of Honour

1993
Bob Hope attends the festival as Guest of Honour and sings "Thanks for the memories" to an audience on Eyre Square

1994
Top British travel show "Wish You Were Here" over the festival. 10000 revellers attend over the weekend

2000
The Sunday Times (London) declare the Galway International Oyster Festival as one the the 12 greatest shows on earth

2004
The Festival still sponsored by original sponsors Guinness celebrates its 50 birthday

  Galway Oyster Festival,
Áras Failte, Galway Ireland.
Telephone: + 353 91 522066
Facsimile: + 353 91 527282
E-mail: info@galwayoysterfest.com

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