Galway Arts Festival - 2009 line up

Primal Scream.

Primal Scream.

GLAM ROCK legends the New York Dolls and a major dance show by the brilliant Michael Clark, inspired by the Glam era of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Lou Reed, are just two of the many exciting shows, concerts, events, readings, and exhibitions lined up for this year’s Galway Arts Festival, which runs from July 13 to 26.

Theatre and dance

Fans of dance and classic rock music will be looking forward to the show by the Michael Clark Company in the Black Box from July 15 to 18, which explores, celebrates, and was inspired by the work of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Lou Reed in the 1972-73 period. This will be the show’s Irish premiere.

Propeller theatre company will stage two works by Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Merchant Of Venice - in the Town Hall from July 22 to 26. Directed by Edward Hall, the plays will feature male only casts (as it was in The Bard’s day ) and be reinterpreted in contemporary settings. This will be both show’s Irish premiere.

No arts festival is complete without Druid and this year the acclaimed Galway company will stage Tom Murphy’s The Gigli Concert in the newly refurbished and soon to be re-opened Druid Theatre from July 17 to 25. There will also be the Druid debuts and a celebration of JM Synge in St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church on July 26.

The Irish premiere of Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre’s production of Judith Thompson’s Palace Of The End, described by The Guardian as containing “the most penetrating images of the Iraq war...astonishing”, will take place in the Town Hall from July 14 to 18.

Circe, Australia’s premiere physical theatre company will bring its wonderful fusion of acrobatics, dance, gymnastics, and drama to the arts festival when it presents the European premiere of its new show Furioso to the Black Box from July 21 to 26.

Irish theatre companies will be staging works during the arts festival such as Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape (BofI Theatre, NUI, Galway, July 20 to 25 ); Martin McDonagh’s Cripil Inis Meáin (Seanscoil Sailearna, Indreabhán, July 15 to 19 ); Blackbird by David Harrower (Nuns Island, July 15 to 25 ); Dragonfly’s production of Reptilian (Town Hall studio, July 13 to 18 ); and Galway Youth Theatre’s staging of DNA (Nuns Island, July 14 to 25 ).

Children will get great fun out of Pignit Productions’ Flea Circus in the Town Hall Theatre foyer throughout the festival. They will also enjoy Cork Circus’ Higgeldy Piggeldy, about the adventures of three little pigs in NUIG (July 16 and 17 ) and Your Man’s Puppets’ The Legend Of Lowry Lynch in the Town Hall studio (July 23 to 26 ).


The show at the arts festival that everyone is talking about and excited by is Bon Iver (US Indie-folk singer Justin Vernon ) at the Big Top in the Fisheries Field on Thursday July 23. If you’ve heard his album For Emma, Forever Ago, you’ll know why. If you don’t have it, get it now and then you will understand.

Also playing the Big Top are David Gray (July 21 with support from David Kitt ); Femi Kuti, a true giant of African music (July 22 ); and a mouth-watering triple bill of Primal Scream, Spiritualized, and DJ David Holmes (July 24 ).

The Róisín Dubh will host a major series of gigs throughout the arts festival and the Dominick Street’s impressive line-up features New Orleans’ Hot 8 Brass Band on July 13; the Indie-pop and b-movie mayhem of Fight Like Apes on July 14; anti-folk singer Emmy The Great on July 16; the legendary glam-rock/proto-punk band, the New York Dolls on July 17; Jerry Fish and The Mudbug Club on July 18; soul singer Candi Staton (best known for the hit ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ ) on July 19; Brooklyn’s powerhouse Indie-folk band O’Death on July 20; soul legend Brooker T, former leader of The MGs and the man behind the classic instrumental ‘Green Onions’ ) on July 21; and the great Jack L on July 24.

The Róisín will also hold its popular annual Trad Lunchtimes from July 16 to 25.

Sean Tyrrell will present his Message Of Peace show in The Crane on July 18 and 25. Campbell’s Tavern in Cloughanover, Headford, will host acoustic guitar wizard Andy McKee on July 13 and songwriter Mary Gauthier on July 25.

Classical music enthusiasts have much to look forward to with the Kronos Quartet, premiering work by Blur’s Damon Albarn in the Radisson SAS Hotel on July 14; the left-field classical meets avant-garde meets pop of The Penguin Café Orchestra (Radisson, July 17 ); and jazz from the highly promising Neil Cowley Trio (Radisson, July 16 ).

ConTempo will join the award winning Galway singer and composer Julie Feeney for a concert in St Nicholas’ on July 16 and then perform with Alexander Balanescu for a show entitled Inner Journey in the same location on July 18.

Latin music fans can look forward to the New York salsa sounds of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra in the Radisson on July 19.

Street events

No arts festival is complete without street events and this year will see two events which will take place at night. The Macnas parade Orfeo, directed by Noeline Kavanagh, based on the idea of Orpheus’ journey to the underworld takes place on July 19 at 10pm. It will begin at the Spanish Arch, travelling to Flood Street, Merchant’s Road, Lower Abbeygate Street, William Street, Eglinton Street, Francis Street, Salmon Weir Bridge, and into the Fisheries Field.

Germany’s Theatre Titanick will present Firebirds in the city centre on July 14 and 15 at 2pm and 10pm, so expect to see daredevil pilots, driving crazy machines through the streets. Dance Theatre Of Ireland will present its new show Bloc Party in Spanish Parade, Spanish Arch, on July 23.


The mighty Tommy Tiernan will play a run of shows at Cuba*, Eyre Square, from July 13 to 18. Also playing Cuba* are David O’Doherty (July 20 ) and Maeve Higgins (July 22 ). The inspired comedy meets pop-rock band antics of Dead Cat Bounce return to the Laughter Lounge in the Róisín Dubh on July 15; while Mark Thomas will be exploring matters financial in It’s The $tup£d €conom¥ in the Radisson on July 18.


Niall Stanage, author of Redemption Song: An Irish Reporter Inside The Obama Campaign will read on July 17; One In Four founder and amnesty International Ireland executive director Colm O’Gorman will speak on July 18; Steven Galloway, author of The Cellist Of Sarajevo, will read on July 24; BBC/Discovery Channel reporter Ben Anderson will be looking at everything from football to September 11 at his talk on July 25. All take place in the Hotel Meyrick, Eyre Square.

Visual arts

ABSOLUT is the new partner of the Festival’s ABSOLUT Visual Arts Programme. With the establishment of ABSOLUT ART in 1981, the company commissioned a broad range of international artists from Louise Bourgeois to Andy Warhol to create new work. This exhibition, featuring a selection of work from the ABSOLUT Collection, includes Louise Bourgeois, Pierre et Gilles, and Miguel Barcelo. See a selection from the collection in the Festival Gallery (McDonagh’s/Instore, Merchants Road ).

The great British artist David Hockney will exhibit his visual interpretations of stories from the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales in the same venue. Also in the Festival Gallery, the photo exhibition Child Soldier will be held.

The Galway City Museum will host a photographic exhibition by Russia’s Varvara Shavrova who will contrast images of Bejing and Ballycastle, Co Mayo. Other photographic exhibitions include Colm Hogan’s depiction’s of Cork Travellers (Galway City Museum ) and John Minihan’s classic depiction’s of Beckett and Francis Bacon (The Kenny Gallery ).

Other exhibitions include Sean Cotter and Ger Sweeney (Festival Gallery ); Lars Laumann (Galway Arts Centre ); John Barry (Festival Gallery ); Mart (thatch cottage, Henry Street ); Lisa Sweeney (Norman Villa Gallery ); Lorg (NUIG gallery ); Tracy Sweeney (UHG ); Dolores Lyne (White Room Gallery ); and John Kingerlee (Kenny’s ).

All exhibitions run for the duration of the festival.

Tickets for the Big Top shows are on sale now. The festival box office will be opened on Merchant’s Road (McDonagh building ) from June 22. For more information go to

Ireland Town Hall Salmon Weir Bridge author David Gray New York Germany Australia Spain Martin McDonagh Galway Connacht Natural Disaster Hotel Meyrick Emmy Eyre Square artist songwriter Tommy Tiernan Galway Arts Centre leader Tom Murphy BBC Town Hall studio The Guardian The Guardian Galway City Museum Spanish Arch David Kitt Collegiate Church Bloc Party Primal Scream Executive Director Blur Iraq Samuel Beckett Barack Obama Manchester Venice Laughter Lounge Gorman New Orleans Jerry Fish Russia reporter Kenny Gallery David Bowie Cuba Andy McKee Discovery Channel Radisson SAS Hotel Norman Villa Gallery soul singer White Room Gallery Edward Hall Palace Of The End Michael Clark Iggy Pop Judith Thompson Lou Reed Kronos Julie Feeney NUIG Gallery Sean Tyrrell Ger Sweeney Dolores Lyne Lisa Sweeney Song Mary Gauthier Festival Gallery Lars Laumann David Hockney Andy Warhol Bon Iver The Merchant of Venice Sarajevo Sean Cotter David Holmes Hot 8 Brass Band Alexander Balanescu Candi Staton Circe amnesty International Ireland Bejing and Ballycastle Co Femi Kuti Michael Clark Company McDonagh building Town Hall Theatre foyer Australia For Emma Forever Ago Young Hearts Run Free Spiritualized William O& the Spanish Harlem Orchestra New York Dolls Penguin Café Orchestra Spanish Harlem Orchestra Neil Cowley Trio Kronos Quartet Damon Albarn Colm Hogan Mark Thomas Justin Vernon Gilles Varvara Shavrova Niall Stanage John Minihan Francis Bacon Louise Bourgeois John Barry John Kingerlee Ben Anderson Steven Galloway Neil Cowley Tracy Sweeney David Harrower Miguel Barcelo Indie-folk singer Discovery Channel reporter winning Galway singer and composer anti-folk singer director Colm

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