Countdown to SeaFest as Minister launches maritime festival

There is just over a month left until 100,000 people flock to Galway to enjoy this year’s SeaFest, Ireland’s national maritime festival — and this week, Marine minister Minister Creed was in town to launch the event.

SeaFest, which takes place in Galway from June 30 to July 2, has quickly become one of the most popular summer festivals in Ireland. It brings together a wide range of agencies, partners and businesses in the marine sector. Galway has really embraced it and only last week, the Chamber of Commerce organised an information evening in conjunction with the Marine Institute to ensure that Galway business buy in to the event and become aware of the massive potential it holds for a city that is built right on the edge of the sea, with the docks just 500m from Eyre Square.

At the launch, Minister Creed said that SeaFest is a unique festival that creates awareness of our maritime heritage and celebrates our seas and all the opportunities that they provide to us.

“This year’s festival is expanding to a three-day event with an exciting line up of attractions, including PowerFly’s world champion flyboarders, the tall ship The Phoenix, boat tours, a showcase of the finest of Irish seafood by Bord Iascaigh Mhara and Bord Bia, demonstrations and a range of activities that bring visitors on a journey of discovery when it comes to the mysteries of the ocean. It is truly a festival for everyone to enjoy.

“SeaFest plays a vital role in the Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth’s key goal of increasing participation and engagement with the sea. It deepens knowledge and appreciation of the ocean and builds on how we can each work to protect while also benefiting from our abundant maritime resources.”

60,000 visitors last year

SeaFest attracted more than 60,000 visitors to Galway in 2016 and this year, the event will make an even bigger splash. Galway Harbour and Docks are set to be transformed into an ‘open air sea world’ for the free three day festival with a host of family friendly entertainment and attractions on the water.

There are many new additions to the festival programme this year, including “Sea Science - the Wild Atlantic” exhibition which is Ireland’s first sea science gallery to have all displays accessible in both English and as Gaeilge text and audio. The basic principles of marine science are communicated in a fun, interactive and engaging way at the Galway City Museum.

Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute said, “We are eagerly anticipating SeaFest 2017 – last year, it proved itself to be massively popular with the local Galway community and with visitors who travelled from far afield to celebrate the festivities.”

He paid tribute to all of the partners who collaborate on SeaFest and continue to make it a successful event.

“A unique aspect of SeaFest is the number of local, regional and national agencies and organisations that come together to plan this event,” Dr Heffernan said, adding that local businesses, media and festival volunteers also play a pivotal role.

SeaFest will also include a range of industry events, such as the fourth annual Our Ocean Wealth Summit on June 30 at NUI Galway. Digital Ocean: Ireland’s Marine Engineering and Technology Conference and the Marine Industry Awards will take place on June 29. A Marine Trade Show will be held at NUI Galway on June 29 and 30 and Bord Iascaigh Mhara will hold their national seafood conference ‘Winning in a Changing Environment’ on June 29.

More than 70 representatives from Galway’s business community recently attended the SeaFest Information Evening, held by the Galway Chamber in association with the Marine Institute.

Businesses urged to support

Dr John Killeen, chair of the Marine Institute and Maurice O’Gorman President of the Galway Chamber encouraged members to support the national festival, which showcases Ireland’s abundant maritime resources.

The increased awareness of the importance of marine life in Galway was enhanced last week when Minister Creed officially opened Ireland’s first marine science gallery at Galway City Museum today.

“Sea Science - the Wild Atlantic” exhibition is Ireland’s first sea science gallery to have audio and visual displays accessible in both English and as Gaeilge. The interactive exhibition spans a variety of topics including the nature of how tides operate, multi-beam mapping, deep sea exploration and marine life along the seashore. The basic principles of marine science are communicated in a fun and engaging way, using a combination of digital interactive touchscreens, hands-on-exhibits, holograms and high-definition video footage.

Minister Creed said, “I’m delighted to officially open Ireland’s first marine science gallery at Galway City Museum, an exhibition that both strengthens our maritime identity and raises awareness about our oceans.

For an island nation like Ireland, the sea has particular importance to our history and culture, as well as supporting a diverse marine economy. Our ocean is a valuable source of food, a gateway for shipping and means of transport, as well as supporting diverse ecosystems. For many of Ireland’s coastal communities, our ocean also offers tourism and leisure opportunities which contribute to our health and wellbeing.

Our ocean is indeed a vital resource, and it is imperative to cultivate an interest in our oceans from a young age. This “Sea Science - the Wild Atlantic” exhibition will educate our younger population and the general public, about the value and opportunities provided by our sea. Through both English and Irish interactive displays, future generations will be encouraged to explore, protect, manage and sustainably develop our national resource.”

Need for an ocean literate society

Dr Heffernan said that Ireland has a rich maritime heritage, from a seafaring history to researching and preserving our marine environment.

“Our ocean is a national asset and a key aspect of Ireland’s marine plan Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth is to ensure our marine resource generates social, cultural and economic benefits for all our citizens.

To realise Ireland’s marine potential, it’s incredibly important to have an ocean literate society – a population that has a strong understanding of the marine environment and how it impacts our everyday lives.

To understand the value of our oceans, citizens need to engage with the marine environment from a young age. This exhibition provides a stimulating learning environment for children to discover the mysteries and science of our oceans, and to also inspire our next generation of marine entrepreneurs, explorers and scientists,” Dr Heffernan said.

The installation of this permanent “Sea Science - the Wild Atlantic” exhibition at Galway City Museum will enable children, school groups and all members of the public to engage with the ocean year-round.

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