Hopes are high that the South Galway village of Clarinbridge will play host to one of the country’s sporting legends during the annual Oyster Festival, which takes place on the weekend of September 15-16.
On the previous Sunday, Galway will face odds-on favourites Kilkenny in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship final at Croke Park. However, should the Tribesmen cause an upset and beat the Cats for the second time in championship hurling this year, the Liam McCarthy Cup would cross the River Shannon to the stains of The West’s Awake. Without doubt the world famous Clarinbridge Oyster Festival would be among the destinations on the victory tour of the county. Of course, Galway hurlers already have the Bob O’Keefe Cup as Leinster champions.
Over the years the festival has played host to many national and international celebrities including President Michael D Higgins; Top Gear’s James May and Richard Hammond; Ireland football manager, Jack Charlton and actors Roger Moore and Patrick Bergin.
While best known for its oyster festival, Clarinbridge is steeped in hundreds of years of history and culture.
Situated tactically at the mouth of Dunbulcan Bay, at the point where the Clarin River enters the Atlantic, the location of the village provides ideal settlement needs, with its natural resources and scenic setting.
The village was designed and built by the Redington family, owners of Kilcornan Estate and the village landlords throughout the 1800s.
In 1820, Sir Thomas Redington obtained the first exclusive rights to hold a market in the village green, where now the annual Clarinbridge Market Day continues to pay homage to the Redington family and their legacy in the village.
Spanning over hundreds of years, the oyster farming industry of Dunbulcan Bay began long before the Redington family settled in the area. For centuries oyster farmers have cultivated oysters in Dunbulcan Bay, which is protected from the full force of the Atlantic, therefore obtaining the perfect combination of fresh water and seawater, providing the ideal conditions for oyster development. The succulent Clarinbridge oyster or the native Irish oyster, ostrea edulis, is reputed to be the best-flavoured oyster in the world.
In celebration of the Clarinbridge oyster, the first Oyster Festival took place in September 1954, on the grounds of the famous Paddy Burkes Oyster Inn.
Now in its 58th year, the festival will once again be held in the festival marquee on the banks of the Clarin River. The village will come alive as thousands of people travel from the four corners of the world to enjoy the event.