Prepare to ‘sea’ it all this weekend as SeaFest sails into the Galway Harbour and plunges into a weekend overflowing with ocean-themed activities and entertainment.
SeaFest is Ireland’s leading maritime festival, and there has never been a better time to get on to the water with family-friendly activities galore with no need to ‘splash the cash’ because most activities are free.
The festival is all about increasing participation and engagement with the sea, showcasing Ireland’s abundant maritime resources and celebrating its proud maritime heritage.
In order to highlight its importance to the economy, a conference entitled ‘Harnessing our ocean wealth: An integrated marine plan for Ireland’ will take place on July 1, in NUI Galway.
However, there is a ‘ocean’ of other events to keep all the family entertained, including a maiden project by artist Frank Bôlter.
During the weekend, he will attempt to sail his quirky craft straight into maritime history, by captaining a giant paper boat which he has made with members of the Kinvara Bay Sailing Club in Galway.
“It looks like an exciting and fun way for adults and children in our community to get hands on with a tangible artistic project,” said Morgan Doyle, commodore of the KBSC.
“We are all looking forward to Frank arriving in Kinvara and helping make the paper boat come to life.” The craft is a giant-scale and, hopefully, seaworthy version of the traditional folded paper yachts made by children.
The paper boat will be launched at Kinvara Pier on Saturday July 2, and will sail into Galway Harbour alongside a flotilla of Galway hookers. Despite its unlikely appearance, the crew are confident in its ability, and will be watching with bated breath from the shore.
The high speed hookers will then put on a choreographed show in the harbour with a series of races and a chase for the Galway Plate.
Life on the water
At the event, there will also be opportunities to step on board rigs which are usually closed to the public, with tours being given free of charge. The familiar sights of the RV Celtic Voyager (31.5m/ 103.3 ft ) and the RV Celtic Explorer (65m/ 213.2 ft ) will be docked in the harbour.
Visitors will be offered a first hand experience of the work done by the duo, which includes fish stock assessment, seabed mapping, surveying deep sea habitats, among many other research capabilities.
The Marine Institute will also have the fully automated, and remote controlled submarine, ROV Holland I, on display. Another of the boats available will be the RV Keary, a 15m (49.2 ft ) aluminium boat crewed by scientists mapping the seabed.
Equipped with state of the art sonar mapping systems, and seabed sampling tools, the RV Keary can work in as little as 2m of water.
The Commissioner of Irish Lights, the body in charge of maintaining Irish lighthouses, will also be bringing its ship, The Granuaile, to the harbour, which is one of the most advanced marine vessels of its kind. The Naval service ship, LÉ Niamh, which performs year-round patrol of Irish waters will also make an appearance after a successful 2015.
Last year saw the crew deliver a baby onboard, and rescue more than 4,000 people stranded at sea during a 10 week mission in the Mediterranean, after its services were called upon to help during the Syrian Migrant Crisis.
At 78.8m (258.5 ft ), this will be by far the biggest ship at the festival, and a must-see.
As part of the festivities, SeaFesters will also get the chance to taste some of the finest fish available in the Irish market. Top seafood chef and author, Michael O’Meara of Oscar’s Seafood Bistro, Galway, will be offering his services, along with Gerard Collier, winner of fishermonger of the year 2015.
Seafood experts, Martin Shanahan of Fishy Café and Rory O’Connell from Ballymaloe Cookery School, will be giving masterclasses on their favourite seafood recipes and culinary tips. Both men, hailing from Cork, have a passion for the sea and will help audiences to discover more about the rich resources we harvest from the sea, with a special focus on sustainable fishing.
Fun for all the family
The festival village will host of ‘shoal of fish’-market stalls as well as some of Galway’s finest craftspeople and artisans.
Music, song, and dance will combine to keep the mood ‘buoyant’ with everything from military band recitals to trad sessions and some expertly exotic shimmying from the MaSamba Samba School. Storyteller Pat Ryan will be weaving magical spells with seafaring yarns and tales of what lies beneath the sea, while stilt-walkers, cartoon characters, and street performers keep children’s spirits ‘afloat’.
Miss Shell, the circus mermaid, will stage a fishy show for all younger attendees.
For more information, and to see a full timetable of events, go to www.seafest.ie