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#SeaFest - Marking World Oceans Day across the globe today (Monday 8 June), Marine Minister Simon Coveney announced the first national celebration of Ireland's oceans next month.

The inaugural national maritime festival SeaFest will take place in Cork Harbour on 10 and 11 July and will see thousands of visitors enjoying the fruits and pleasures of the sea, from boating trips, yacht sailing, open water swimming, marine simulators, rescue demonstrations, sea life exhibits, educational screenings and talks, festival family fun and a food village with live seafood cookery demonstrations with some of Ireland's best known chefs.

"As an island nation, it is so important to recognise and celebrate the incredible resources of Ireland's abundant and surrounding seas," said Minister Coveney at today's SeaFest launch. "This two-day festival will travel Ireland, taking place in Cork in 2015 and with plans already underway to bring SeaFest to Galway in 2016.

"It is a national festival at which we can share our seafaring heritage and future, enjoy a myriad of water sports and activities, have fun while learning about the sea and the opportunities it presents, and feast on some of the world's best seafood. I am hugely excited about this national festival, SeaFest, and look forward to it becoming one of Ireland's leading festivals in the coming years."

Cookery demonstrations, workshops on how to cook and eat prawns, lobsters, mussels and oysters among other seafood will be hosted by the seafood development agency, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, with renowned seafood chefs Martin Shanahan and Rory O'Connell.

As well as leading Irish chefs showing people just how easy, quick and healthy it is to enjoy fresh fish from our oceans, there will also be fishmonger demonstrations, seafood sampling, rope making, talks on seafood and a large fish market at the festival.

The Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth Conference, which forms a key part of SeaFest, will attract international and national delegates and experts in marine research, ocean energy and the 'blue economy' to Cork.

"Ireland is one of the largest states in the EU if you take into account our seabed area," said Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute. "With our exclusive rights to a sea area more than ten times our land size, Ireland's ocean is a national asset providing incredible opportunities for tourism, energy, food and new applications for therapeutics and technology. SeaFest aims to celebrate and acknowledge the importance of the sea for the island."

The National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) will be sharing their facilities, normally used to train for a career as a maritime professional, with the public at SeaFest.

Festival goers can experience various ship models in national and international waters in a variety of weather conditions via the simulators; these simulation exercises show the skills required when working at sea.

Also open for visitors will be UCC's new Beaufort Building. This state-of-the-art €15 million facility will house the LIR National Ocean Test Facility and the SFI MaREI centre, which is a cluster of key university and industrial partners dedicated to solving the main scientific, technical, social and economic challenges related to marine renewable energy.

The Irish Naval Service will be on hand to provide tours of the offshore patrol vessel LE James Joyce, the sister ship to LE Samuel Beckett.

Members of the Irish Defence Forces will tell visitors about the activities of the Irish Navy, situations encountered aboard while at sea and showcase the latest in modern seafaring technology on board this new ship.

The Marine Institute research vessel RV Celtic Voyager will be visiting SeaFest before departing on a survey to investigate algal blooms off Ireland's coast.

The RNLI are the nominated charity for the SeaFest event and 2,000 ducks in lifeboats will take part in a duck race in Cork Harbour to raise funds for the charity, which provides rescue services all around the Irish coast and saves hundreds of lives at sea each year.

There will also be a parade of sail including superyachts, racing yachts, private leisure craft and boats that will sail from the mouth of Cork Harbour to the Port of Cork Marina in the city centre.

The parade of sail will follow the open water swimmers of the Lee Swim, which is taking place on 11 July and will see hundreds taking to the sea to enjoy a refreshing and strenuous in the sea.

SeaFest 2015 promises to be a thoroughly enjoyable festival for all. Don't miss this opportunity to enjoy the best of Ireland's oceans this July in Cork Harbour.

A full schedule of festival fun has been announced at www.seafest.ie.

Published in Maritime Festivals
Come the first weekend of July 2011, the sheltered waters of Donegal's Lough Swilly will come alive with sails big and small, with the slap of oars and paddles.

The shoreline and the golden sands of its beaches will play natural backdrop to theatre and games, to families and friends celebrating in the unique surroundings of our coastal environment.

On the tables in the courtyard of Rathmullan's historic Battery there will be an abundance of Donegal's local food culture: fresh fish and shellfish from local waters; lamb, beef and pork from local fields – all of it turned into an exceptionally simple menu of regional cuisine by talented local chefs.

"We wanted this to be an event for everyone," says Mark Wheeler of Rathmullan House and one of the driving forces behind SeaFest. "For sailors and watersports enthusiasts, be they experienced or novices; for families in search of something active to do with the kids; for people who simply take pleasure in being at the seaside; and of course for everyone who enjoys good local food."

The event will open on Friday evening, 1st July, with the launch of MalinWaters, a new cross-border marine tourism intiative for the the shared maritime zone between Northern Ireland, North West Ireland, and Scotland.

MalinWaters is part financed by the European Union's European Regional Development Fund through INTERREG IVA Cross-Border Programme.

"We are delighted to be part of the SeaFest event as it reflects exactly what the project partners are trying to achieve with our new MalinWaters tourism brand," says Lee-Anne Doherty, the project's Marketing Officer. "This includes encouraging engagement by local people in marine leisure and waterborne activities, attracting activity enthusiasts to the area and illustrating County Donegal's significant maritime heritage and linkages."

On Saturday the action on the water kicks off in earnest with the Saldanha Cup, a traditional cruiser-racer sailing regatta commemorating the 200th anniversary of the sinking of the frigate, the HMS Saldanha. The regatta will start and finish off the pier in Rathmullan with a course taking in the site of the Saldanha wreck near spellbinding Ballymastocker Strand

Published in Maritime Festivals
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