GIAF launch 2021 festival programme

Concerts from Tolü Makay and Mick Flannery; theatre from Druid, Branar, and Fíbín; and a feast of visual arts and talks

John Gerrard’s Mirror Pavilion will be located in the 4,000 year-old Derrigimlagh Bog in Connemara.

John Gerrard’s Mirror Pavilion will be located in the 4,000 year-old Derrigimlagh Bog in Connemara.

DESPITE ALL the obstacles the Covid-19 pandemic has put in the way, the 2021 Galway International Arts Festival has emerged triumphant, with an impressive, and exciting array of events for the autumn.

The 2021 festival, which runs from August 28 to September 18, will be a hybrid event, mixing in person live events, with online shows. The lineup features Domhnall Gleeson in the new play by Enda Walsh, Nigerian-Irish singer-songwriter Tolü Mackey, indie band NewDad, artists John Gerrard and Ger Sweeney, leading Irish classical pianist Finghin Collins, and shows from Galway companies Druid, Fibín, and Breanar.


Happy Days GIAF 2021

Happy Days.

Medicine, written and directed by Enda Walsh, and starring Domhnall Gleeson, will be a major event (Black Box Theatre, live, livestream, view on demand ), while The Seagull [after Chekhov] by Thomas Kilroy, directed by Garry Hynes, will be a Druid production filmed exclusively for GIAF.

The Mick Lally Theatre will host award-winning playwright Simon Stephens adaptation of Nobel Prize-winner José Saramago’s dystopian novel, Blindness, as a theatrical sound experience. Company SJ, the Abbey Theatre, the Dublin Theatre Festival, and GIAF will present Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days as Gaeilge live on Inis Oírr.

Blindness GIAF 2021 Helen Maybanks


Branar Theatre will present Sruth na Teanga at the Galway Airport site in Carnmore, combining puppetry, music, video mapping, and live performance. Fibín Sa Taibhdhearc, will present Cogadh na Saoirse, a play about the War of Independence, staged in Baile na hAbhann.

Decadent Theatre will present There Are Little Kingdoms by Kevin Barry, directed by Andrew Flynn, chronicling life in the towns and cities of a changing land (live, Town Hall Theatre ); Luke Murphy’s Attic Projects, will present a new work in four parts, mixing theatre, dance, and sci-fi thriller (Nun's Island Theatre, live and online ).

After Love GIAF 2021

After Love.

Fidget Feet Aerial Dance Theatre will present A Handful of Dreams, a heart-warming outdoor show which combines aerial and circus arts (live, Commercial Boat Club, Woodquay ). Also at the Commercial Boat Club will be a virtual reality experience from Brú Theatre that merges dance, song, poetry. There will also be an immersive new work from Enda Walsh, Bedsit (Columban Hall, Sea Road ), and After Love, a collaborative project, led by choreographer, dancer, and actor Stephanie Dufresne, and based on the debut poetry collection by Dani Gill.


An absolute highlight of GIAF 21 will be the live streamed concerts from St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, presented with Other Voices, and featuring NewDad, Anna Mullarkey, Tolü Makay, and Susan O’Neill and Mick Flannery.

Other festival concerts are Contempo25, celebrating the 25th birthday of the ConTempo Quartet, with special guest Finghin Collins (live at St Nicholas’ ), and ‘e-motions CelloVision’ with the Resurgam choir, Luminosa Orchestra, cellist Adrian Mantu, accordionist Dermot Dunne and guests (Galway Cathedral and online ).

Visual arts

John Gerrard’s Mirror Pavilion will form a centrepiece event and the key visual arts exhibition of the festival. This year, the structure - three sides and the roof clad in a highly reflective mirror, with the fourth wall a high–resolution LED screen - will be located in the 4,000 year-old Derrigimlagh Bog in Connemara.

Other exhibitions include Precarious Freedom: Crowds, Flags, Barriers, which focuses on protest movements; Architecture at The Edge’s With House of Memory (Festival Gallery ); Interface, Broken Vessels, featuring Irish and South African artists (Lough Inagh Valley Salmon Hatchery, Connemara ); Decade, spanning 10 years of Ger Sweeney’s work (Galway Arts Centre ); the imPRESSions 2021 fine art printmaking exhibition (online ); Reliquary of Beasts, focussing on animals in art (126 Artist–Run Gallery ); They Heard Her Voice in the Lapping Waters, featuring work by JoJo Hynes inspired by female water deities (Engage Art Studios, Lower Salthill ); and a photo exhibition in Áras Éanna, Inis Oírr, to mark the production of the Irish language version of Happy Days.


County Galway singer-songwriter, Niamh Regan.

The First Thought series will include a mix of live and online-only events, curated by Catriona Crowe, which will be broadcast across GIAF’s digital platforms. Guests will include Sinéad Burke, Misha Glenny; Bonnie Greer; Fintan O’Toole; Noelle Browne; Diarmaid Ferriter, Peter Lunn, and Teresa Lambe. There will also be the Vinyl Hours talks where Sinead Burke, Niamh Regan, and Brian Kerr will discuss their favourite albums and songs with Tiernan Henry (O’Donoghue Theatre NUI Galway, live and online ).

Tickets go on sale at 10am on Friday July 16 from


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