Galway International Arts Festival 2014 - what's on, who's coming

The National.

The National.

It is no longer the Galway Arts Festival, it is the Galway International Arts Festival, a recognition of how the July event has grown to become one of the premiere arts events in Ireland and Europe.

Festival artistic director Paul Fahy explains the name change: “Adding ‘international’ to our name best reflects where the festival is at now. We have always presented a huge amount of international work, and in terms of our ambition of what we are producing and touring, it’s a more accurate reflection of where we see ourselves. The festival presents and produces work in Galway which sits side by side with the work of artists and companies from around the world. Both are local and global; both are international.”

The Galway International Arts Festival, which runs from July 14 to 27, was launched in Dublin last night, and will receive its Galway launch this evening, and the Galway Advertiser has full details of what is happening throughout the two weeks.


Two of the highlights of this year’s GIAF will involve two festival favourites - Irish playwright Enda Walsh and American actor John Mahoney.

The festival will host the world premiere of Walsh’s new play Ballyturk, starring Cillian Murphy, Mikel Murfi, and Stephen Rea, in the Black Box Theatre from July 10 to 27.

In an interview for the Galway Advertiser, Walsh explained the play thus: “It came from a conversation with my daughter about death. She was shocked. She thought it was a joke. ‘And we live with that knowledge, every day?’ she asked. I was seeing her face going ‘Oh God! This is something real’. From that I had this notion of, what if I place that thought in the minds of two adults, and see how it plays out, and how they choose to live? It’s a meditation on death and ‘it will end’, but it’s also about love and it’s wildly comic and fast, and ludicrous.”

The second Walsh play is Room 303 in the Absolute Festival Gallery, Market Street. This 13 minute piece, set within an installation in the gallery, and voiced by actor Niall Buggy, tells the story of a man seemingly trapped in his hotel bedroom.

Chapatti, by Galway playwright Christian O’Reilly (The Good Father, Inside I’m Dancing ), and starring John Mahoney (Frasier ) receives its European premiere at the Town Hall Theatre from July 15 to 27.

Romance is a distant memory for two lonely animal lovers living in Dublin. When forlorn Dan and his dog Chapatti cross paths with the amiable Betty and her 19 cats, an unexpected spark begins a warm and gentle story about two people re-discovering the importance of companionship.

Along with O’Reilly, there is a strong Galway theatre presence at this year’s festival, in terms of both companies and individual actors.

Galway born Lisa Dwan will perform Samuel Beckett’s Not I, Footfalls, and Rockaby in An Taibhdhearc, from July 22 to 26. This arts festival run follows Dwan’s critically acclaimed run of these shows at both the Royal Court Theatre and the Duchess Theatre  in London’s West End.

Be Infants in Evil, by Brian Martin, is in the Mick Lally Theatre, Druid Lane, from July 10 to 26. Fr Patrick is the new parish priest who has to deal with Noleen, a blind widow who knows more than she lets on; Jacinta, a convert to Islam who wants the church to acknowledge she has left; and 13-year-old Henry... The play promises to be a comic, yet uncompromising, look at the complications of modern Ireland.

Other Galway shows will be Moonfish Theatre’s stage adaptation of Joseph O’Connor’s Star Of The Sea (An Taibhdhearc, July 10 to 19 ) and ID: Identity, from Blue Teapot Theatre Company (Blue Teapot Theatre, Munster Avenue, July 16-19, 25-26 ), which looks at the world through the eyes of people with intellectual disability.

Galway Youth Theatre will stage David Greig and Gordon McIntyre’s Midsummer (A Play With Songs ) about Bob and Helena’s lost weekend of bridge burning, car chases, and bondage (Nuns’ Island Theatre, July 14 - 26 ). A non-verbal show about a world made entirely of paper will enchant family audiences in Branar’s Bláth (Bank of Ireland Theatre NUIG, July 18-24 ).

Panti (drag artist and gay rights activist Rory O’Neill ) has had a dramatic 2014, following an appearance on The Saturday Night Show and that superb speech in the Abbey Theatre on the power of language and its use to discriminate against gay people.

Now Panti is coming to the arts festival for her first stand-up show - High Heels in Low Places - at the Radisson Live Lounge on July 22 and 23.

The emergence of acid house music in the late 1980s and the role [email protected] Sir Henry’s in Cork played in bringing it to Ireland is examined in Deep, which features footage of the clubnights and interviews with the club’s main figures. See it in the Radisson Live Lounge from July 14 - 19.

Big Top and other concerts

The musical highlight of the festival will be The National, the outstanding Brooklyn rock band, in the Big Top in the Fisheries Field on July 16.

The National have come to prominence over the last few years for their intense, emotionally charged, sophisticated, yet driving, energetic rock, and equally for the rich, deep, baritone of their charismatic frontman Matt Berninger.

Imelda May returns for the second year in a row to headline a Big Top concert on July 18. “We had an amazing gig, with a brilliant audience and fantastic atmosphere during Galway Arts Festival last year,” Imelda said recently. “I am really looking forward to returning.”

Also on the bill are The Coronas, one of Ireland’s most popular rock bands, on Saturday July 19. Completing the line-up are an honorary ‘Irish’ band, indeed Galway band, The Waterboys (who are actually Scottish/English ). An outstanding live act, and a pioneering folk-rock group, they play the Big Top on July 20. The Big Top shows are ‘Galway Arts Festival and Róisín Dubh presents...’ events.

Other music highlights are The Sonics, who have been on the go since the 1960s and have been cited by Nirvana, Bruce Springsteen, and The Fall as a major influence. See them in the Róisín Dubh on July 15.

Another show to look forward to will be the great Owen Pallet (formerly Final Fantasy ) whose music combines indie-pop and classical violin, often with stunning visual accompaniment. Check out his new album In Conflict and see him in the Róisín Dubh on July 21.

The remaining gigs are Hot 8 Brass Band (Róisín Dubh, July 14 ); Uproot Hootenanny (Róisín Dubh, July 16 ); Mary McPartlan & Bertha Hope (Monroe’s Live, July 16 ); Declan O’Rourke (Róisín Dubh, July 17 ); Luka Bloom (Monroe’s Live, July 17 ); Booka Brass Band (Róisín Dubh, July 19 ); Sarah Jarosz (Campbell’s Tavern, Cloughanover, July 19 ); Maria Doyle Kennedy & Kieran Kennedy (Mick Lally Theatre, Druid Lane, July 20 ); Dublin Gospel Choir (Róisín Dubh, July 20 ); Kevin Devine (Róisín Dubh, July 22 ); Simone Felice and Samantha Crain (Róisín Dubh, July 23 ); We Banjo 3 (Monroe’s Live, July 23 ); Cass McCombs (Róisín Dubh, July 24 ); Mark Geary (Monroe’s Live, July 25 ); West Cork Ukulele Orchestra (Róisín Dubh, July 26 ); and Cathy Davey (Róisín Dubh, July 27 ). There will also be the Traditional Music Showcase at Monroe’s from July 17-19 and 24-26.

Classical fans can look forward to Cois Cladaigh in St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, July 19; a production of the opera Orfeo, also in St Nicholas’ on July 23 and 24; and the Night At The Proms with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra in the Big Top on July 26.

Visual arts

The major art exhibitions this year will be Odysseus by Belfast painter, sculptor, and multi-media artist John Kindness in the Absolut Festival Gallery and The Forty Part Motet, a sound installation by Canadian artist Janet Cardiff. Enter the Aula Maxima, NUIG and hear loudspeakers transmit individual unaccompanied voices or stand back and hear them as a combined polyphonic choral effect.

Also, as you walk around town, you might see a gigantic red ball stuck into various buildings. This is Kurt Perschke’s RedBall Galway project, an open air art installation.

There will also be exhibitions from Liam O’Callaghan (Galway Arts Centre ); Leonie King (Absolut Festival Gallery ); Kareen Conway (UHG ), 126 members show (126 Gallery ); Patrick O’Reilly (The Shed, the docks ); Brian Bourke & Jay Murphy (Norman Villa ); Evans of Eton (Galway City Museum ); and Maurice Quillinan (Galway City Museum ).

There will also be First Thought Talks, public interviews, comedy, and play readings. For tickets see or call 091 - 566577 (from June 16 ). The festival box office will be in the tourist office, Forster Street, from June 16.


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