Every September since 1954 Clarenbridge on the edge of Galway Bay has marked the beginning of the oyster season with a festival offering glamour, beauty and razzmatazz, attracting an ever increasing number of national and international visitors.
A carnival atmosphere surrounds the first oyster tasting, and RTÉ Radio 2 DJ Marty Whelan is one of the first to try the crop of 1986.
I’m still chewing it, is that wrong?
The Galway International Festival and the more localised Clarenbridge Festival went their separate ways in 1984, but each manages to survive. Festival chairman Joe Sherry explains the Oyster Festival is a huge bonanza for 130 people who live in the village Clarenbridge, but is also an important showcase for the oyster farming industry.
The festival is an impressive gathering where the locals mix with high society revellers, hurling stars and their wives, American tourists and of course politicians.
Fianna Fáil TD for the Galway West constituency Máire Geoghegan-Quinn says
I’m enjoying myself at the real Galway Festival.
She also loves oysters
They're wonderful and I'll tell how many worked later.
Consuming oysters and seafood is the main preoccupation of the festival-goers. It is a high spending weekend with more than 20,000 oysters consumed along with untold amounts of porter. Another festival high-point is the crowing of the festival queen, this year won by Malahide woman Fiona Kirwin.
An RTÉ News report by Jim Fahy broadcast on 15 September 1986