31 May 2009

Galway Maritime Festival attracts large Crowds

About 150,000 people from all over Ireland and from abroad have come to Galway for this long weekend to attend the city's two-week-long maritime festival, which is organised to celebrate the stop-over of the 2008/2009 Volvo Ocean Race (see my entry of May 24th).

According to experts, the Volvo Ocean Race is 'the 6th-biggest sporting event in the world', and the fastest and most expensive sailing boats ever built are taking part in the 37,000 mile round-the-globe challenge.

The Garda Síochána appeals to motorists travelling west to allow themselves "considerable additional time for their journeys", as long tail-backs are expected on the roads to Galway.

Fáilte Ireland, our usually quite useless tourist board, says that it now believes the additional income from the festival will far exceed the € 43 million it had originally predicted.

Attendance figures will set new records for a maritime event in the West of Ireland, but they will not reach the numbers Waterford has seen four years ago, when we hosted the start of the 2005 International Tall Ships' Race. In only four days, during which we had 88 sailing vessels in port - including 28 famous class A ships (which are at least 40 metres long, but many are a lot larger) - Waterford registered more than 450,000 visitors to the city (which has only about 60,000 inhabitants).

In two years' time - in early June of 2011 - we will host the same event again and I am looking forward to it already in great and happy anticipation.

The Emerald Islander

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