Galway Heritage Festival kicks off this weekend with free events

The Galway Heritage Festival, organised by Dúchas na Gaillimhe/Galway Civic Trust, will take place from Saturday August 21 to Sunday August 29, and promises to be informative and plenty of fun for all.

The festival, which is running in conjunction with European Heritage Week, will highlight the richness of Galway’s and indeed Ireland’s heritage, and all the events will be free of charge.

The opening day of the festival is family fun day with a wonderful opportunity to visit the ‘Dead Zoo’ at NUI Galway’s Zoology Museum at 10.30am. At noon, artist Aidan Barry will host an animation workshop exploring the hidden treasures of the city at Galway Arts Centre. Later on, at 3pm, local historian Willie Henry will host a visit to the medieval St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, while environmentalist Brendan Smith leads a guided eco-walk of Terryland Forest Park at the same time.

On Sunday Branar Theatre Company will present two puppet shows at Galway Rowing Club in Woodquay at 12.30pm and again at 3pm. Later that evening a very special event of music, song and story by John Faulkner and Cormac Cannon will take place at 8.30pm in the Galway Rowing Club.

A whistlestop tour of some of the city’s key medieval sites will be led by the Galway Civic Trust’s Michael Quinn at 2.15pm on Monday August 23 and at 3pm Peadar O’Dowd will lead another tour of the historic St Nicholas’ Church.

Traditional poaching in Galway is the intriguing theme of a talk by Fisheries Inspector Pat Gorman on Tuesday morning at 10.30am, again in Galway Rowing Club, while a walking tour of Galway literary and theatrical heritage with Brendan Hynes sets off in the afternoon at 2.30pm. Michael Quinn is back in action with another walking tour of medieval sites at 2.15pm on Wednesday and astronomy takes centre stage at 8pm that evening with a talk by Malachy Thompson at GMIT. Weather permitting, there will be a chance to view the celestial skies through telescopes at this event.

Thursday’s highlights include visits to both St Nicholas’ Church and Galway Cathedral while herbalist Dr Dilis Clare takes participants on a journey through the wonder and curative properties of local wild herbs at Barna Woods. A talk on the challenges of remembering the Great Famine by Brian MacGabhan takes place at 8pm that evening in Renmore Barracks.

Throughout the week, a Heritage trail competition continues with participants having to find answers on a number of Galway Civic Trust plaques around the city for a chance to win a digital camera. The festival continues with a range of further events including astronomy talks, heritage cycles, and herb walks until Sunday August 22. Details on all events can be found on www.galwaycivictrust.ie While all events are free of charge, booking is essential on 091-564946.

A number of other organisations are participating in the festival with a range of captivating one-off and daily events. These include NUI Galway’s Balfour exhibition in the James Hardiman Library, readings in the Nora Barnacle House, DERI’s ‘historic’ computer museum, Fáilte Salthill’s ‘Kick the Prom’ walk and the chance to visit Renmore Barracks’ military museum. Galway City Museum is holding a talk and demonstation on the traditional clothing of the Aran Islands while the ‘Paints and Pens’ exhibition at Kenny’s Book Shop and Gallery is another highlight of the programme. With the excesses of the summer season drawing to a close this is truly a recession busting festival and a chance to brush up on the rich vein of heritage which makes Galway such a special place.

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