Aerial/Sparks - an art trail on Inis Óirr

A trek through the island to discover a story by Kevin Barry and sound and visual works by international artists

Artist Carol Anne Connolly on the Marine Institute's RV Celtic Explorer. Her work with the crew has inspired her art exhibition as part of Aerial/Sparks.

Artist Carol Anne Connolly on the Marine Institute's RV Celtic Explorer. Her work with the crew has inspired her art exhibition as part of Aerial/Sparks.

INIS ÓIRR, the smallest of the Aran Islands, and with a deep-rooted maritime culture, is the setting for the Aerial/Sparks Art Trail which takes place from September 11 to 27.

The trail will see visitors traverse the island, which is 3km long by 3km wide, by foot to discover sound works housed in a lighthouse, a church, an old handball alley, and the Áras Éanna Arts Centre.

Created by Galway artist Louise Manifold for Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture, Aerial/Sparks began by exploring the potential of radio communication to reimagine our relationship with the ocean. This led to seven artists, writers, and composers, from across Europe, joining research expeditions on board the Marine Institute Ireland’s RV Celtic Explorer, after which they produced a series of artworks for exhibition and radio broadcast.

Aerial/Sparks Sean nos musician Colm Devane. Photo by Kennedy Browne

As such we get author Kevin Barry’s monologue Island Time (located at Inis Oírr Lighthouse ), about a lonely lighthouse keeper; Palace Of Ships by German composer David Stalling and seismologist Sergei Lebedev (located at the handball alley ); visual artist Carol Anne Connolly’s portrayals of the ocean inspired by the use of soundwaves in acoustic mapping (Áras Éanna ); Island Affinities, a video work by Kennedy Browne (Áras Éanna ) A video work by Kennedy Browne features a Sean-nós performance with brothers Gearóid and Colm Devane [Colm is pictured above] on a US naval boat found washed up on Inis Oírr shore; Robertina Šebjani will present narration, field recordings, and song in Selachophilia: Cetorhinus maximus - Limaria hians (Inis Oírr church ); classical composer Ailís Ní Ríain's East-West: Where Morning Is The Sea (Áras Éanna ); and British radio artist Magz Hall’s Waves of Resistance, a broadcast relaying a message of peace, hope, and unity across all borders (Áras Éanna ).

Artist Louise Manifold

For Louise Manifold [pictured above], Inis Oírr is the ideal home for these sound works. "I wanted to find a place more than a space for this presentation, a place rich with silence, where organic and human sound floats and carries through the wind," she said. "I wanted each work to be experienced in a way that would connect with and charge our experience of place."

Booking and staying safe on the trail

The Aerial/Sparks Art Trail will take place from September 11 to 27, Wednesday to Saturdays, from 11am to 5pm. Visitors will need a minimum of three hours to experience the whole trail.

While admission is free, advance booking is required for Kevin Barry’s Island Time to comply with physical distancing requirements. Maximum group size is six people to comply with Covid-19 restrictions. The lighthouse will accommodate a maximum of three people.

The trail is accessible to wheelchair users, but advance notification is required. Ferry services are from Rossaveel (Galway ) and Doolin (Clare ). For more information and booking see


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