More than 20,000 people took part in the week of activities leading up to the main festival marquee events. With tasting events in local restaurants, Galway’s first dine out in Galway, Oyster Hot spots, parades, shore walks, traditional storytelling, Hot Oyster Awards cooking challenge, masked street parties and of course the World Oyster Opening championship – the traditional highlight of the festival for all visitors.
Michael Moran of Moran’s on the Weir captured the title of the Bollinger National Oyster Opening Champion for a seventh year running on Friday night. It is said he was born on the day of the National Oyster Opening Championship 29 years ago so it is safe to say he was born to be a champion. To prove the point, he swept the boards on Saturday to win the Guinness World Oyster Opening Championship. He was clearly nervous before the competition but performed brilliantly and his fellow competitors were delighted to see so worthy a champion crowned.
Saturday also saw another match off, this time in the kitchen as rugby stars Mike McCarthy and Brett Wilkinson competed in the celebrity cook-off at the Chef’s Theatre. Following their fantastic win against Leinster on Friday night, both players were determined to continue the winning streak and Brett Wilkinson’s prowess on the stove showed through early on.
On Sunday, the Chef’s Theatre hosted Martin Shanahan, star of RTE’s Surf n’ Turf as he judged the TABASCO® Hot Oyster Awards, where Jonathan Keane of Lisloughrey Lodge was the deserved winner after cooking up a storm with Guinness and Barley Risotto with Kinlough Forest Crusted Native Oysters, Horseradish, Oyster Cream and Turf Smoke. Jonathan will go forward as Galway’s entry in the National Chowder Competition in May 2013!
Speaking of the festival, Cian O’ Broin, Chairperson of the Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival, said “Already the feedback to this year’s festival has been extremely positive and new elements of the festival introduced such as the Food Village, free events and Seafood & Oyster Hot Spots really added to the festivities. We now look forward to reviewing the 2012 festival and are planning the 59th celebration of the festival in conjunction with The Gathering next year.”