Connemara to host inaugural Heritage and Scallop Festival this weekend

The inaugural Heritage and Scallop Festival is taking place in a number of coastal locations throughout the Connemara Gaeltacht over the weekend of October 4, 5, and 6. The festival was recently launched by chef, restaurateur, and author JP McMahon who praised the voluntary committee for taking the initiative.

“This festival is a great example of collaboration and co-operation and is the start of a great journey," he said. "The Galway Gaeltacht is already a wonderful place to explore our heritage and culture, and now the local ingredients and food are being brought centre stage as well."

Everyone is welcome to the festival, which will feature a broad range of events taking place from Carna to Lettermullen throughout the weekend.

The festival will be officially opened at 2pm tomorrow (Friday ), and the opening will be followed by a free talk by food historian Ann O'Donnell.

On Saturday there will be a coastal walk in the Carna area as well as a children’s event in Tigh Mheaic. JP Mc Mahon will host a workshop aimed at helping local food/tourism businesses to identify their food story. This is a free to attend event in the Connemara Coast Hotel from 1pm to 3pm.

Connemara Food tours will run a tour starting and finishing in Carna, taking in a number of restaurants and bar food providers along the route.

On Sunday, archaeologists Michael Gibbons and Richard Long will host a walk in Ceantar na nOileán, exploring archaeological sites and what they tell us about how and what people ate in the past. The newly opened seaweed centre will be free to the public weekend mornings during the féile. The féile will finish with a ‘long table’ seafood feast in Leitir Móir. There will be limited seats at the long table dinner so early purchase of tickets is encouraged.

Each morning there will be a mindfulness brunch, and local business will be promoting seafood on their menus.

Food tourism is growing and Fáilte Ireland has recognised this as it promotes regional food as a reason to visit and stay in beautiful locations throughout the country. The organisation has launched its Taste the Island campaign for autumn 2019 to encourage communities and businesses to collaborate and attract people to their region.

In its first year the festival is dipping its toe in the water to bring together the rich heritage and marine resources in Connemara.

Scallops are a precious and rare resource and conservation measures are under way in Cill Chiaráin bay to protect this wonderful seafood. Fishing for scallops is currently restricted. While this festival celebrates the scallop, the festival isn’t solely about cooking and eating this shellfish. There will be information on the work of the local co-op, the current status of stocks, and the work being done to restore stocks.

Tickets for all fee-paying events are available on Eventbrite and on the event section of www.connemara.ie, or by calling Eileen at 087 972 2419.

The festival aims to grow over the coming years, with a bigger event in 2020 to align with Galway 2020.

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