Thursday, May 15, 2008

Galway Oyster Festival and why I love reading

I've been reading "A Celtic Book of Days" by Sarah Costley and Charles Kightly. I read that at the beginning of September the Galway Oyster festival is always held. There is even an account from 1802 in the book. It particularly mentions the art of opening oysters.

I used to work with a fellow who was from Galway so I at least know where it is. Naturally, I wondered if there was still an oyster festival held at Galway. So of course, I went to Google and found the festival. According to this site, the festival began in 1953 - somewhat later than the account in the book I've been reading. I've assumed it had fallen away and the townsfolk decided to resurrect the festival in 1953. It's now at the end of September, not the beginning as indicated in my book. It would be really interesting to see if they still have a connection to the Celtic origins of the festival and how that manifests in the current day.

There's an oyster opening competition with the competition winners listed from 1968 with nearly half the winners since then being Irish. I wonder if they're local as well. Australia provided 1982's winner. (They seem to have a problem with their code on that page, and one Irish fellow is flying a Norwegian flag - I might email them and let them know.)

This account illustrates very clearly exactly why I love reading (one of the reasons, anyway). I often read about things and wonder if it's still happening, or if that country is exactly as described. Then I begin the research. I've spent weeks on some projects, just finding out the answers to all the questions a book has raised in my head. Nova Scotia has been on my list of places to visit if everything in my life evolved that direction simply because I read a book that described the wind and waves and islands of that area. It's stayed in my head. I want to go. Now Galway has grabbed my attention. I think I'd need a little more than an oyster opening competition to get me to put Galway on my list of places to see, but it's certainly worth knowing about.

And that leads me to writing. A lot of the things I learn while I'm reading and researching will trigger the 'what if' question for me. I'll jot a few notes down, draw a couple of pictures and before I know what's happening I've got a new world or a new story unfolding in front of me. Tonight my writing brain is swirling with images of oysters, porridge, mermaids and uses for urine.

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