The weather gods behaved superbly over the May bank holiday weekend, which allowed the annual Connemara Mussel festival to showcase the Renvyle peninisula in all its glory. The festival was opened on Friday evening by trans atlantic rower, rugby player and mental illness awareness advocate, Damian Browne, who of course has very close local family connections. Damian was followed up by a concert in the Marian Hall which was staged voluntarily and with great gusto by local performers, headlined by a play by national and international award winning film maker Tristan Heanue. Saturday and Sunday dawned bright and dry and so too did the events. Music sessions and talks in the Church, cookery exhibitions and tastings in the marquee, gardening workshops, childrens cookery classes, sean nos lessons, kids activities, an artisan market, bees and foraging, mini disco and a famine tour were only some of the proceedings throughout the day. Music in the locals, a Sunday morning dawn walk along the Killary, an open air music session on Sunday evening to close the event were other slots in the very busy schedule.
The Mussel festival went ahead this year in the face of great adversity. While the organising committee were very grateful for donations and funding, the income, especially from Council grants were reduced on previous years. Those that contributed in terms of voluntary work and financial aid are thanked very much by the organising committee but a very serious warning is been issued by the Mussel Festival to the public in that these festivals are becoming unsustainable. The brilliant Ballina Salmon Festival and Westport Food festival are only two of a number that have fallen away this year. With the reduced income in grant aid, albeit this festival been a flagship event in County Galway, the rising costs of running the festival especially in relation to insurance, the huge workload on a voluntary committee and the difficulty in recruiting enough volunteers leaves the future of this so looked forward to spectacle hanging in the balance.
The committee will regroup after a well deserved rest and will review the situation for 2020 but in the meantime wishes to thank each and every person who contributed to and attended this years staging. Lets hope its back in a years time…
Voted No. 1 Best Irish Seafood Festival 2019
‘First off this year head to the beautiful west coast for the Connemara Mussel Festival which offers a veritable feast for the senses. Originally established to promote the excellence of the mussels from Killary Harbour, the festival has grown to become a celebration of local people, food, culture and heritage and is recognised as the premier food event for Connemara attracting visitors from near and far. Great people, great atmosphere, this is a really great one and a fantastic way to welcome the longer days!’