So this is what we do best...enjoy

There is nowhere like Galway during festival season

French acrobats giving a performance in Eyre Square at a previous Galway International Arts Festival.

French acrobats giving a performance in Eyre Square at a previous Galway International Arts Festival.

It’s Arts Festival time again — our lives are measured by the constant cycle year after year, the Big Top comes and goes silently, and the rich legacy that envelopes us welcomes another layer.

So come ye all who are interested in arts and culture and pursuers of craic and welcome to this most westerly of cities for the short time you will be among us...May the draw of this place of the Tribes drag ye inside these city walls...May the wind sneak behind you before filling your lungs with the freshest of fresh Galway air...may your arms pump the energy like a Frankie Gavin elbow...May the pounding of your heart as it primes the pistons of your body act like a gentle staccato soundtrack in the movie of your feat...May the hard disk drives of your mind become sponges to absorb all that is around you. May you fill your lungs with all that is Galwayness and let that soak through your being...may all of you who perform for us over the next two weeks feel the gratitude of your audiences...may you take the applause of the thousands and believe that each utterance of ‘fair play to ya’ is a heartfelt blessing from the giver...If you’re stopped in the street and told ‘ye’re the wan from that show thing the other night, aren’t ya, well ya were great...for the tens of thousands of visitors here to drink in the colour and the sights and smells and sounds, may your time among us be one of wonderment and satisfaction...

'May your foot tap to the box players, may you hold your stare and treat your eyes with the works of our artists, may you understand our culture'

May every morsel that passes your lips here detonate your taste buds and may every soothing drink spread its coolness throughout you...May you enjoy Galway and all that it offers you and may you be intoxicated by the uniqueness of this strange place set on a rock facing the Atlantic, perpetually enduring the wind and rain but now bathed with a blue roof and, with that knowledge, may ye show even more wonderment at our good humour...may you feel the warmth we all have for you these weeks...may you stand and sit and share our music, may your foot tap to the box players, may you hold your stare and treat your eyes with the works of our artists, may you understand our culture, our strange customs and see why you were right to come back again among us and why we hope you will do it again and again... May you walk the streets and be enveloped in the cocoon that is our city, that strange force that makes us leave behind thoughts of what we could have been to concentrate on what we are...

May your minds never be too exercised working out what is unique about this place and why it turns grown people into children...may your senses be fully sated in our midst...may you realise that this welcome afforded you is one built on genuine spirit and not on massive resources...for the volunteers who staff the festival, let us thank you silently for the smiling face and guiding hand you provide these weeks; may you be amused by our creativity and may you bring with you throughout the world, a memory of Galway that will make you want to tell others about it, so that they too can come here and sample all of this for themselves.

'Welcome to Galway...let it be your home while you are here, let it be a canvas for your imagination'

And although we will see you all again next year, take every chance to spread the word about what’s happens out west, so that you can join us again two years hence for a full year of what we have now, for 12 months of colour, of surprises around every corner, of good conversation about who we are and what we are and what we would like to be. In two years time, we get the chance to create our legacy, a legacy not of budgets, pointscoring, and backbiting, but of inspiring those who will populate this city for the next hundred years. So let us use art to wash the dust of daily life from our souls, to scrub the grease from the fumbling in the tills and hold it up as a mirror to ourselves and keep an eye on the bigger picture.

Welcome to Galway...let it be your home while you are here, let it be a canvas for your imagination. Let you take your young people here so that they will be inspired to help paint that canvas when they come here to live, to study, to work, to savour, to contribute to a repeat of what has been created here over the past forty years. Now enjoy the show..... and turn off those mobile phones.

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