Arts Fest promises a whale of a time in July

St Vincent

St Vincent

A giant, bulbous whale floating in the sky; a woman transitioning to a man; Red Rock‘s Cathy Belton in a one-woman show; a new short play by Enda Walsh, and Crowded House’s Tim Finn exploring his origins through song and story - this is just some of what is coming to the 2015 Galway International Arts Festival.

The festival, which is launched in Galway this evening, runs from Monday July 13 to Sunday 26, featuring theatre, dance, concerts, visual art, street events, and the by now regular First Thought Talks series. 


One of the main productions at the festival will be Frank McGuinness’s The Match Box, starring leading Galway actor Cathy Belton, in the Town Hall (July 15 to 26 ). Sal is a woman to be pitied and feared in equal measure. Living in exile on Valentia Island, the event which pushed her to the edge amd brought her there are as unexpected as they are brutal.

Transgender identity is at the core of Amy Conroy’s Luck Just Kissed You Hello (Druid Mick Lally Theatre, July 9 - 25 ). Laura returns home for the death of her father, but Laura is now Mark. He, along with Gary and Sullivan, must decide on how their father is remembered. They must find a way to forgive and find a way to recognise themselves again.

It seems no arts festival is complete without Enda Walsh and he returns with a new short play, A Girl’s Bedroom (Bank of Ireland Theatre, NUI Galway, July 13 to 26 ). A six-year-old girl leaves her family home, and walks. She never stops. Until now. Other theatre shows to look out for are Olwen Fouéré with Samuel Beckett’s Lessness (An Taibhdhearc, July 22 - 26 ); Galway Youth Tehatre’s production of Pat McCabe’s The Dead School (Nuns Island Theatre, July 13 - 26 ); and the Diarmuid deFaoite directed Maum, about the Maumtransna murders (An Taibhdhearc, July 9 - 18 ). There will also be play readings in An Taibhdhearc and the Mick Lally Theatre.

A quirky show will be Live Live Cinema’s Little Shop Of Horrors (Bailey Allen Hall, July 21 - 23 ). While Roger Corman’s 1960 film Little Shop of Horrors is screened, live performers work at breakneck speed to re–voice multiple characters in perfect lip sync while playing a new score, and creating live sound effects.

One of the most unusual shows will be Exhibit B (Black Box, July 14 - 19 ). Created by South African artist Brett Bailey, it is a mix of installation, museum exhibition, and theatre.  In a powerful critique of racism, 13 live installations examine the colonial policies and history of Europe in Africa. Collectively each scene confronts colonial atrocities and the plight of immigrants today.

Hofesh Shechter, the Israeli choreographer whose Political Mother was one of the highlights of the 2010 festival returns with deGeneration (Black Box, July 21 - 25 ), which features three works, highlighting his cinematic, smoky brand of dance.


The ‘Festival/Róisín Dubh presents...’ Big Top concerts in the Fisheries Field are Damien Rice (sold out ), Kodaline (July 17 and 18 ), The Coronas (July 25 ); Sinead O’Connor and John Grant (July 23 ); and the Grammy award winning indie-rock singer-songwriter St Vincent (July 14 ).

Festival gigs at the Róisín Dubh are John Spillane (July 13 ); The Young Folk (July 14 ); All Tvvins (July 16 ); Declan O’Rourke (July 17 ); Jape (July 18 ); Kila/The Frames member Colm Mac Con Iomaire (July 20 ); Chuck Prophet (July 21 ); O Emperor (July 22 ); Scullion (July 23 ); Jerry Fish (July 24 ); and Mick Flannery (July 25 ).

Monroe’s Live will host concerts by Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny (July 16 ); Damien Dempsey (July 17 ); Aldoc, featuring former Gradá frontmen Alan Doherty and Gerry Paul (July 23 ); and Jamaican DJ and promoter Newton Dunbar (July 24 ). It will also host the lunchtime trad concerts from July 18 to 25, which will include a show from Liz and Yvonne Kane (July 25 ).

Electric, Abbeygate Street, will host New Jackson and Barry Redsetta (July 16 ); I-F and Automatic Tasty (July 18 ); and Tensnake, Daniel Wang, and DMX Crew (July 26 ).

Classical music fans are well catered for with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and the RTÉ ConTempo Quartet performing Schubert (Aula Maxima, NUIG, July 17 to 19 ); violinist Elizabeth Cooney and pianist Finghin Collins (Aula Maxima, NUIG, July 20 ); and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Finghin Collins, and cellist Leonard Elschenbrioch (Bailey Allen Hall, NUIG, July 17 - 18 )

Crowded House/solo artist Tim Finn will explore identity, place, heritage, and family history in song and story in St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church (July 15 - 16 ). Italian composer Theo Teardo, who wrote the music for Enda Walsh’s Ballyturk, presents his concert Return To Reason - Music for Man Ray in St Nicholas Collegiate Church (July 23 ).

Outdoor events

One of the highlights of the festival will be the giant floating whale/hot air balloon that is Skywhale, by Australian artist Patricia Piccinini, from July 13 to 19. The skywhale, 100 feet long and 70 feet tall, will be tethered at various locations in the city and will take to the air, weather permitting, for three flights over Galway.

Impossibly tall opera singers in enormous dresses walking from Eyre Square to the Spanish Arch, and singing, can be expected on July 17 and 18 from France’s Transe Express. There will be wonderful acrobatics from Collectif Malunés (Eyre Square, July 17 - 18 ) and Tac O Tac (Eyre Square top Spanish Arch, July 22 - 23 ); while George Orange will play with a giant structure in the shape of a crescent moon (Spanish Arch, July 17 - 18 ).

Visual arts

Patricia Piccinini might have the show stealing art exhibition as well in Relativity (Festival Gallery Market Street ) with sculptures of half–human/half–beast mutants, baby trucks, and humanised scooters who love one another. There will also be exhibitions from Louise Bourgeois (Galway City Museum ), Varvara Shavrova (The Shed, Galway Docks ), Martin Healy (Galway Arts Centre ), Cleary Connolly and Neil McKenzie (University Hospital Galway ); Impressions Biennale (GMIT Cluan Mhuire ), Sioban Piercy (NUIG gallery ), Primary Resources (126 Gallery ); and Sophie Calle, with Gregory Shephard and Fabio Balducci (Bank of Ireland Theatre, NUIG ). The exhibitions run throughout the festival.

First Thought talks

Highlights of the First Thought talks will be Laureate for Irish Fiction Anne Enright hosting a night of short stories in St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church (July 26 ); a public interview with Jo Ellison, fashion editor of the Financial Times (July 26 ); The Cloud Appreciation Society’s Gavin Pretor-Pinney (July 25 ), and John Wilson, principal conductor with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra (July 18 ).


Comedy shows will be from Al Porter (Róisín Dubh, July 19 ), The Rubberbandits (Seapoint, Salthill, July 25 ), and Gerry Mallon’s Laughter Loft (lunchtimes at The King’s Head, July 13 - 26 ).

For more information see


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