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Second Annual SeaFest Nets 60,000 Visitors In Galway

4th July 2016
Second Annual SeaFest Nets 60,000 Visitors In Galway

#SeaFest - More than 60,000 visitors flocked to SeaFest, Ireland's national maritime festival, this past weekend to enjoy an action-packed programme centred on Galway Harbour.

Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan said he was delighted at the public response and at the enthusiasm for Ireland's marine heritage that underpinned the festivities.

"SeaFest is all about is increasing participation and engagement with the sea, showcasing Ireland's abundant maritime resources and celebrating our proud maritime heritage," he said.

"As the crowds in Galway showed, the sea is a fantastic source of fun and entertainment and we were thrilled to see so many people – locals and visitors alike – join in the spirited marine-themed fun."

Dr Heffernan added that the second annual SeaFest, following Cork Harbour's hosting of the inaugural event last summer, was "a hugely ambitious venture and Galway rose to the challenge of providing a fabulous weekend which both informed and entertained."

Among the scene-stealing excitement on the water was the spectacle of the Galway Hookers' challenge for the Galway Plate; the arrival of the gracious tall ship Phoenix; and Frank Bölter sailing his quirky large scale origami paper boat into the harbour in partnership with TULCA for Galway 2020.

On dry land, meanwhile, Bord Iascaigh Mhara and Bord Bia's seafood extravaganza was packed with natural produce and cookery demonstrations by celebrity chefs, alongside tours of ocean-going vessels and the Marine Institute's 'Our Wild Atlantic – What Lies Beneath' marquee with its interactive exhibits on marine life and creatures of the deep.

Significantly, SeaFest also brought to the city a major focus on research and the marine economy with a number of marine-related business and research events taking place in the lead-up to the public festivities.

The third annual Our Ocean Wealth Conference allowed speakers and delegates of national and international status to delve more deeply into the theme of 'Innovating for our Marine Future', exploring and strengthening Ireland's maritime heritage, economy and identity.

New Marine Michael Creed also welcomed the success of SeaFest, which ran from Thursday 30 June to Sunday 3 July and played host to 750 conference delegates from Ireland, Europe and the USA among the thousands of visitors.

Minister Creed, who spoke at the BIM Seafood Conference, the Marine Industry Awards ceremony and the Our Ocean Wealth Conference, said: “I was greatly encouraged by the energy and enthusiasm which I witnessed at the various events at SeaFest.

"The large attendance of delegates, the quality of presentations at the various events and the general desire to move forward the development of Ireland’s marine economy was very impressive.

"However, the huge response by the Irish people to the public events at SeaFest, with a record breaking 60,000 people attending on Saturday and Sunday, was the greatest testament to the high level of interest amongst the Irish public in all aspects of the marine.”

Minister Creed also launched the SmartBay Ocean Observatory, which will serve as a important element in the development of an Atlantic Ocean Observatory system and facilitate the test and demonstration of pilot-scale ocean energy devices in Galway Bay, before going on to further commercial development.

"The whole idea of SeaFest was to engage, examine and enthuse the public and policy makers about the potential for the development of our marine economy," said the minister.

"The Government strategy for the development of the marine economy is set out in the Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth integrated plan for the development of the marine in Ireland, and the success of last weekend’s SeaFest augurs well for the support and interest that exists to grow the marine economy in Ireland."

Published in Maritime Festivals
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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