The Galway Arts Festival 2012

Christy Moore

Christy Moore

The Galway Arts Festival returns from Monday July 16 to Sunday 29 and will be officially launched in Dublin this evening and in Galway tomorrow. Below is all that is on during the two weeks and there is plenty to look forward to.


The theatre programme may be the highlight of this year’s festival. Propeller, the all-male English company whose performances of Shakespeare have wowed Galway audiences over the past few years make a very welcome return.

Director Edward Hall and his magnificent team of actors will perform Henry V in the Black Box Theatre on July 24, 26, 27, 28 and The Winter’s Tale, also in the Black Box on July 25, 27, and 28.

John Mahoney, the distinguished American stage actor, who is also well known for his role as Marty Crane in Frasier, is another welcome return as he stars in Bruce Graham’s play The Outgoing Tide in the Town Hall Theatre from July 17 to 21. The Chicago Tribune said of his role in the play: “Surely the most courageous performance of Mahoney’s considerable acting career.”

The festival will also see the world premiere of The Great Goat Bubble, the new comedy play by author and Toasted Heretic lead singer Julian Gough. The play is an arts festival and Fishamble co-production and will be directed by Mikil Murfi. See it in the Druid Theatre throughout the festival (bar July 17 and 23 ).

DruidMurphy, Druid’s major staging of three of Tom Murphy’s finest plays - Famine, A Whistle In The Dark, and Conversations On A Homecoming - and directed by Garry Hynes, will run in the Town Hall Theatre from July 23 to 28 (excluding July 28 ). The cast includes Niall Buggy, Garrett Lombard, Aaron Monaghan, and Marie Mullen.

Barry McGovern, one of Ireland’s finest actors will present his stage adaptation of Samuel Beckett’s novel Watt in NUI Galway’s BoI Theatre from July 23 to 28. The National Theatre of Scotland will stage the Irish premiere of The Strange Undoing Of Prudence Hart, about a folklorist who ends up having to sort out Satan’s library, in the Radisson Live Lounge from July 16 to 22.

Families can look forward to a wonderful mix of acrobatics, dance, gymnastics, tightrope walking, back flips, and flying jumps, when French duo Compagnie Ieto present their show IETO in the Black Box on July 16 to 18.

Catastrophe Theatre will present Colm Maher’s Last shot Redemption in St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church (July 16 - 18, 20 - 22 ); and Galway Youth Theatre will stage Pat McCabe’s Frank Pig Says Hello in the Nuns Island Theatre (July 23 - 28 ).

The Big Top

The Galway Arts Festival and the Róisín Dubh will present the concerts in the Festival Big Top in the Fisheries Field.

Possibly the highlight will be the great Christy Moore, performing a rare stand-up gig, on Friday July 20, where he will be accompanied by Declan Sinnott. Support is from 4 Men and A Dog. This will be Christy’s only Galway show for this year.

Possibly the biggest party night out for the summer will be when Niall Rodgers leads disco-funk legends Chic onto the Big Top Stage on Thursday July 19.

Chic, the New York disco pioneers and a seminal influence on hip hop and modern r’n’b, will take to the stage on Thursday July 19. Chic will be led by long time member, guitarist, songwriter, and respected producer Nile Rodgers.

The band is best known for one of the greatest songs of the disco era - ‘Le Freak’ - and for one of the most influential songs of the last 35 years - ‘Good Times’. Also on the bill will be the brilliant French pop/bossa nova band Nouvelle Vague.

Two of Ireland’s finest singer-songwriters - James Vincent McMorrow and Lisa Hannigan - play on Thursday July 26, with support from Elaine Mai. To hear Elaine’s music go to and check out her debut EP Dots which is released on Strange Brew Rekkids.

One of the nation’s best loved bands, The Coronas, play on Friday July 27. They won the prestigious Meteor Best Album Award in 2010 beating fellow nominees U2 and Snow Patrol. The band were listed in the Top 10 Bands to Watch in 2011 by the New York Post. Support is from Bressie and Salthill’s white boy funk trio The Kanyu Tree.

There is also the fun of the silent disco on July 21.


Apart from the Big Top there are also plenty of other gigs happening around town, be they rock, trad, or classical, to keep music fans happy.

Gigs taking place in the Róisín Dubh are: The West Cork Ukulele Orchestra (July 16 ); Jack L (July 17 ); Mark E Smith will lead the legendary The Fall (July 20 ); Cork indie band Fred (July 21 ); Damien Dempsey (July 22 ); the gifted Canadian jazz, boogie-woogie, and blues pianist Michael Kaeshammer (July 23, 24 ); pop rockers KeyWest and Kormac’s Big Band (July 28 ); quirky and clever American folk singer Sam Amidon (July 29 ).

Kelly’s and Monroe’s will host the Trad Lunchtimes with performances from Máire O’Keeffe, Éilis O’Connor, and Garry O’Briann (July 19 ); Seamie O’Dowd and Aminah Hughes (July 20 ); Tola Custy (July 21 ); David Munnely and John Kilkenny (July 26 ); Verena Cummins, Julie Langan, and Padraig O’Brianin (July 27 ); and Tara Connaghan and Derek McGinley (July 28 ).

County, roots, and folk fans can look forward to Grammy winner Dave Alvin (Kelly’s, July 20 ); singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters (Kelly’s, July 23 ); and Donegal’s The Henry Girls (Monroe’s, July 20 ).

For classical enthusiasts there is The Brodsky Quartet in St Augustin’s on July 17; Ireland’s contemporary classic group The Crash Ensemble in St Nicholas’ on July 19; Singapore’s T’Ang Quartet, also in St Nicholas’, on July 28. On July 19 St Mary’s Cathedral in Tuam will host a concert of works by Bach, Mozart, and Schubert, selected by playwright Tom Murphy.

Visual arts

The King James Bible is one of the most, if not the most, influential work in English and it has served as the inspiration for Precious Light, a series of collages, monumental sculptures, and words, from Turner nominated artist David Mach, inspired by Biblical passages. See it in the Absolute Gallery throughout the festival.

The Galway City Museum will exhibit work by one the great 20th century artists - George Grosz. His cartoon style, uncompromising and satirical depictions of life in Weimar Germany remain some of the most iconic images of the era.

British composer and artist Ray Lee will present his sound art project Siren in the Black Box on July 20 and 21. Siren fuses musical performance and gallery installation in a whirling, spinning, spectacle of mechanical movement, electronic sound, and light.

There will also be exhibitions from Jennifer Cunningham (NUIG gallery ), Brian Maguire (Absolute Gallery ), Marina Abramovic with Charlies Atlas (Absolute Gallery ), Joe Comerford (Absolute Gallery ), Mick O’Dea (Norman Villa Gallery ), Ben Geoghegan (126 Gallery ), Lynne O’Loughlin and Pete Ray (Absolute Gallery ).

There will also be group exhibitions - Between Worlds (UHG ), Stoney Road (Kenny Gallery ); The Bureau Of ‘We Will Point You In The Right Direction’ (The Shed, Galway Harbour ), and The Performance Collective (Galway Arts Centre ).


For summer laughs, audiences can look forward to Piff The Magic Dragon (Kelly’s, July 16 ); Perrier Award nominated Terry Alderton (Róisín Dubh, July 18 ); Police Academy’s Michael Winslow (Róisín Dubh, July 21 ); Reginald D Hunter (Róisín Dubh, July 25 ); Jason Byrne (Seapoint, July 26 ); while Gerry Mallon’s Laughter Loft takes place in The King’s Head each day of the festival at 1pm.

Street events

This year’s Macnas parade, This Thunderous Heart, will take place at night, starting at 8.45pm and make its way from The Spanish Arch to Quay Street to Shop Street, Eglinton Street, to the Salmon Weir Bridge, and the Fisheries Field.

A monster from Catalonia is coming to Galway and he will be stalking the streets of Galway for the festival. He is a fabulous beast and he can fly. Watch out for Efimer’s Lo Monstre in Eyre Square, Shop Street, and Spanish Parade from July 16 to 19.

Galway’s city centre streets will also see eight men, each carrying suitcases, wandering around. This is Kamachatka from Spain, a mixture of dance, theatre, and street event, that highlights the plight of immigrants.


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