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
The first ever festival takes place
Over 300 guests attend the festival
3000 oysters consumed over the weekend which was attended by famed film director John Huston.
The 1st world Oyster Opening Champion is local man John Cummins in a time of 3 mins 34.8 seconds
1st UK winner of the oyster opening championship, Sam Scott
21st Oyster Festival celebrations with Anita Leslie as Guest of Honour
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
40000 oysters consumed
Festival moves into Galway City as part of the Quincentenial celebrations. Friendship band visit city for first time
Sir Anthony O'Reilly is Guest of Honour
The AA Travel Guide lists the festival as one of Europes Seven Best Festivals on a par with the Munich Beer Festival
John Hume Guest of Honour
Bob Hope attends the festival as Guest of Honour and sings "Thanks for the memories" to an audience on Eyre Square
Top British travel show "Wish You Were Here" over the festival. 10000 revellers attend over the weekend
The Sunday Times (London) declare the Galway International Oyster Festival as one the the 12 greatest shows on earth
The Festival still sponsored by original sponsors Guinness celebrates its 50 birthday