GIAF announce line-up for new Winter First Thought Talks programme

Martina Fitzgerald

Martina Fitzgerald

Galway International Arts Festival (GIAF ) has announced the programme for its new Winter First Thought Talks discussion series, which will take place at NUI Galway later this month.

The new event will build on the success of the hugely popular First Thought Talks series that takes place during the festival each year.

City of Thorns author Ben Rawlence, Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole, Madam Politician author Martina Fitzgerald, former politician Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and Labour Party politician Jan O’Sullivan are among the high profile line-up for the new event.

City of Thorns, Home in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp

Author and human rights activist Ben Rawlence spent four years living and working in Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp in Kenya. Home to about 350,000 people, it was originally established in 1992 to house 90,000 refugees from the civil war there.

Rawlence’s remarkable book City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp, explores the lives of those he befriended and those who feel forgotten as he takes us beyond the headlines to explore the morally urgent issue of refugees and displacement.

For this talk titled ‘ City of Thorns, Home in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp’, Ben will be interviewed by the photographer Sarah Hickson, whose hugely impactful exhibition Sounds Unseen: A Photographic Memoir of the Calais Sessions was presented at GIAF in July 2018.

Aula Maxima | NUI Galway, Saturday 1 December 11.30am

A New and Frightening Home?

Fintan O’Toole is probably Ireland’s best-known journalist, with many books to his name and a widely-read column in The Irish Times. For this talk, Mr O’Toole will discuss his new book, Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain, a ruthless dissection of the psychology and politics of Brexit.

The book explores how trivial journalistic lies became far from trivial national obsessions; how the pose of camp indifference to truth and historical fact has come to define the style of an entire political elite; the redefinition of a country that once had colonies as an oppressed nation requiring liberation; the strange gastronomic and political significance of prawn-flavoured crisps, and their role in the rise of Boris Johnson; the dreams of revolutionary deregulation and privatisation that drive Arron Banks, Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg; and the silent rise of English nationalism, the force that dare not speak its name.

Fintan’s talk, titled ‘ A New and Frightening Home?’ will be introduced by Catriona Crowe, Curator of GIAF First Thoughts Talks. Aula Maxima | NUI Galway , Friday 30 November 8pm

Our Long-Running Homeless Crisis

A lice Leahy, founder of Trust (now the Alice Leahy Trust ) in 1975, is one of Ireland’s most experienced, eloquent and non-judgmental advocates for, and a long-term provider of services to, homeless people.

In this talk, titled ‘ Our Long-Running Homeless Crisis’, she will talk about her experiences over more than 40 years, and tell us what she thinks about the current homeless crisis.

Alice will be joined on this bill by Donna O’Neill, a Services Manager with Cope Galway, which provides services to homeless people and others in Galway city. She has been working in the area of homelessness for over 25 years and has managed the COPE Galway Fairgreen Hostel for men for the last 15 years. She will talk about the local issues which affect her service.

The discussion will be chaired by Prof. Dan Carey, Director of the Moore Institute, NUI Galway. Aula Maxima | NUI Galway, Saturday 1 December 2.30pm

A Home for Women in Government

Political Correspondent for RTÉ News & Current Affairs Martina Fitzgerald is the author of the No 1 bestselling book, Madam Politician, which recounts the political experiences of the 17 surviving women who have served as senior ministers and the two former female Presidents. The book documents their battles to have their voices heard and how they dealt with various levels of sexism.

For this talk titled ‘ A Home for Women in Government’, Martina will be joined by former Irish Fianna Fáil politician Máire Geoghegan Quinn, who served in many ministries over a long political career and as a European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, and Jan O’Sullivan, a Labour Party TD who has held several ministries, including that of Education and Skills. Broadcaster Marian Richardson will moderate the session. Aula Maxima | NUI Galway Saturday 1 December 4.30pm

Galway International Arts Festival would like to acknowledge the support of its principal funding agencies the Arts Council, Fáilte Ireland and Galway City Council, and its Festival Partners NUI Galway, Ulster Bank and Heineken.

GIAF’s First Thought Talks Winter Programme will run at the Aula Maxima in NUI Galway on Friday 30 November and Saturday 01 December 2018. Tickets, priced €10-€15, will go on general sale at 10am on Monday November 12 on


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