Up to 10,000 converge on Galway Bay for revival of An Tostal Festival

 

ATLANTIC RACING currachs braved brisk easterly gusts and a heavy swell to converge on Galway Bay for the revived An Tostal Festival at the weekend.

Sailing is not always the easiest spectator sport, but nine Galway hookers in full calico sail proved otherwise against the backdrop of the Burren.

Up to 10,000 people are estimated to have watched the two-day event from the Salthill promenade. It was due to an Aran islander, Diarmuid Ó Conghaíle and a voluntary committee from the Galway Bay Hotel, that the coastal festival returned to the inner bay after an absence of almost half a century.

Members of the winning currach team from An Tóstal 1955, including Raymond McDonagh and brothers Bartley and Pádraig Flaherty from Carraroe, officiated at the opening ceremony, before currach teams from Donegal, Mayo, the Aran Islands, Connemara, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork took to the water.

Mixed double currach winners in yesterday’s finals were Ciarán and Siobhán Barrett from Lettermullen, Co Galway, and a Lettermullen crew of Aisling and Siobhán Barrett and Vanessa Lydon took the senior ladies title.

A Kerry crew of Michael O’Leary, and Declan and Tony Griffin from the Maharees, took the senior men’s title.

Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim, is also marking An Tostal on June 25th and 26th with its 45th annual feis or music festival. More information on www.antostalfestival.ie