Mantle of European culture passes to Galway

Galway 2020 Opening Ceremony fire tour pictured in Tuam on Tueaday night. 
Photo: Declan Colohan

Galway 2020 Opening Ceremony fire tour pictured in Tuam on Tueaday night. Photo: Declan Colohan

Galway is set for one of its most remarkable weekends in living memory as the countdown continues to Saturday’s spectacular opening ceremony to Galway 2020. Thousands are expected to flock to the city to attend the event on Saturday afternoon — among them President Michael D Higgins and European Commissioner Phil Hogan who will officially pass the honour to the city.

The opening ceremony will be a free, open-air, celebration, featuring fire, processions and music, with a cast drawn from communities across County Galway. Gates open at 4pm, with music from 5pm, followed by the opening ceremony at 6pm. It is the creation of Wonder Works, the organisation behind the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.

Events will conclude in South Park when a huge cast of drummers, chanters, and other participants will join together for a ceremony which will celebrate the people and traditions of Galway and Ireland. It will involve seven hand-carved steel sculptures, the town spheres, each reflecting the stories and traditions of the Galway town it represents, will be transformed by flame into giant glowing orbs, and will light up the length of the headland overlooking Galway Bay, while Galway hookers will assemble illuminated in the Bay.

The event takes place on a weekend when the city and county will be the venue for other notable events, including the General Election voting and counts, and a ceremony on Sunday to mark the 700th birthday of St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church.

The celebratory service, entitled St Nicholas’ Past, Present and Future, will take place in the church on Sunday February 9 at 4pm, to which all are welcome.

Also on Sunday, what is expected to be up to four days of counting Galway votes in the General Election will commence at centres in Galway Lawn Tennis Club, the Presentation College Hall, Headford, and at the Hyde Centre in Roscommon.

Some 96,150 voters will vote in 208 boxes in Galway West, while 66,599 voters in Galway East will vote across 138 in GE.There will be 48 boxes opened at a time in GW and 38 at a time in GE, but the counts are expected to last several days.

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