We've done it — Gamechanger for Galway as 2020 vision wows judges

The successful 2020 team celebrate in Dublin.

The successful 2020 team celebrate in Dublin.

Today, Friday 15th July 2016, at the National Concert Hall, an international selection committee announced that Galway will be the European Capital of Culture in 2020, after a selection process that included competitive bids from Limerick and the Three Sisters region.

Galway built its bid Making Waves around the three themes of Language, Landscape and Migration…themes that resonate not just in the west of Ireland but throughout Europe. Galway has committed an investment of €45.47 million to be spent over the next four years. Uniquely Galway brought ten other local authorities into the project as partners and supporters. It also created supportive and sustaining partnerships with the Galway commercial sector who have come in fullheartedly behind the bid with significant financial and logistical support. Already underway are three cultural legacy projects that would have continued whether the county has won or not.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be nominated by the selection committee to be the European Capital of Culture 2020. It is a huge honour and responsibility that we take very seriously. We have a wonderful programme of extraordinary cultural projects planned…many of which are actually happening now. This fantastic nomination is due in no small part to people of Galway City and County who have backed the bid process with their ideas, energy and commitment”, says Patricia Philbin, Project Manager Galway 2020

“We pay tribute to Galway’s vision, her innate creativity and Galway’s belief that this could happen. It is going to be extraordinary and we can’t wait to green light some truly monumental cultural projects that will get not just Europe but the whole world talking”, says Jane Daly, Programme Manager Galway2020

The Galway2020 European Capital of Culture programme is divided into three distinct but integrated strands.

The 10 Weigh Anchor projects involve a number of well established Galway based cultural organisations, who will present large scale, ambitious works that include a strong European dimension. 15 Ship to Shore projects are designed to encourage shared experiences amongst communities within Galway, Ireland, Europe and the Galway diaspora. Already in place are three legacy projects; An Artist in Every Place, Hope It Rains and Small Towns Big Ideas. With these projects Galway 2020 hope to create a cultural legacy and a love of the arts for years to come.

Weigh Anchor highlights

Gilgamesh will be the world famous Macnas’s most ambitious theatrical spectacle to date. It will take its inspiration from the literary epic which is almost older than time itself. Developed over four years and performed through the county in the Aran Islands, the Connemara bog, a disused factory, mosques, suburbs, mountains, boats, and buses; Gilgamesh will work with over 500 participants working across all art forms and will tell the story of an ancient hero part god, part man.

Middle Island will be Druid’s first European collaboration in its 40 year history. Written by Colm Toibin; Middle Island is based on the story of Mary after the death of Jesus. Starting on the the pier at Ros a’Mhíl, County Galway, the audience will then make its way to Inis Meain where they will continue on a staged progress across the island.

Working with the company of 10 professional actors, will be 20 performers drawn from the local community. Middle Island will also be performed in Corsica with local community performers.

Spiritus is a year long Sacred Music Programme that will celebrate the 700th anniversary of St Nicholas, the ancient sanctuary at the centre of Galway. This will include a community opera Noyes Fludde by Benjamin Britten; Ceol Naofa, a festival of sacred music featuring music and musicians from the Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Orthodox and Christian faiths and a large scale site specific production of Dialogues des Carmelites, which will see the people of Galway singing with the RTE Orchestra, choirs and quartet.

Sruth na Teanga

This large scale Irish language theatrical work will celebrate Galway’s special relationship with our native language. The essence of this project is to take key stories from the Gaelic Culture and reimagine them with a vast team of international artists, theatre makers, visual artists, musicians and digital artists. Leading the project will be Branar, Galway’s Irish language theatre company who produce immersive work in the Irish language for families and children.

Mirrored Pavilions

The Galway International Arts Festival and artist John Gerrard will create three major new sculptures for the River Corrib, Connemara and Santander. Each sculpture will be connected to a local sustainable power source which will drive projections of dancing figures dressed in leaves, pelts or straw. The Mirrored Pavilions will become destination art works and the Santander Pavilion will travel to the Dallas Museum of Contemporary Art and the Simon Preston Gallery in New York.


This is a touring exhibition of stone monuments found exclusively on Europe’s Islands. Galway City Museum will lead the project with research visits to the passage graves of Mons Island in Denmark, the Ismantorp fortress on Sweden’s Oland Island, the Gavrinis Island Tomb off Brittany, the Ggantilja Temples on Gozo Island near Malta, the Western Forts of the Aran Islands and many other far flung islands.

Promised Paradises

Susan Philpsz, Caoimhe Kilfeather, Eva Rothschild, Rhona Byrne, Isabel Nolan, Virginie Yassfe and Niamh McCann will all create large scale, site specific sculptural works on the island of Inishboffin.

Wires Crossed

Wires Crossed is a tightrope walking spectacle across the River Corrib. It is born out of a desire to not just highlight the power and beauty of the river, but its potential to end the lives of so many of the county’s young people by suicide. The Galway Community Circus will train 44 people to engage in this empowering and transformative circus act. In walking the wire these people will hope to foster healthier communities and a more balanced Europe …one step at a time.

Galway Ghost Train

This large scale public engagement project will highlight the newly developed Galway to Clifden Green Way which will open on the 47 mile long disused railway line which closed in 1935. It will involve hundreds of runners and cyclists wearing especially designed wireless controlled LED suits who will create complex choreographed sequences while travelling the green way at night.

The fifteen Ship To Shore projects cover language, food, education, dance, travel, sheep, the GAA, artists working with disabilities, youth forum, film, translation and poetry.

All projects will highlight shared practices here and in Europe and will also reach out to the Irish diaspora through language, story telling and shared experience. Ship to Shore will encourage cooperation and collaboration and will ask artists and communities to find new and exciting ways to work together.

Underpining this massive programme of cultural events and projects will be perhaps, its most ambitious aspect - Galway’s Virtual City of Culture. Devised in Galway with partnerships that include MIT and other international partners, this extraordinary dimension to the programme will mean that simply by putting on a virtual headset in any part of Europe, you will be able to share all the cultural experiences in Galway. You will be able to walk the tightrope across the Corrib, join the choreographed cyclists on the Galway Ghost Train, walk the steps of Mary on Inis Meáin and so much more.

This cutting edge technology has implications for the advancement of virtual technology all over the world and it was devised, designed and implemented in Galway especially for Galway2020.

“We would like to thank the many cultural organisations that worked with us on this bid. Their contributions have been amazing and their cultural visions revolutionary”, says Cllr Noel Larkin-Galway City Mayor.

“We also want to pay tribute to the ten counties of the western seaboard who have backed us. They fully understood the value of the 2020 Bid not just for Galway but for the West in total”, said Cllr Michael Connolly Cathaoirleach , Galway County Council.

“Tribute must also be paid to the business community who embraced the opportunities that the Bid offered our city and county. They supported us so well”, says Brendan McGrath Chief Executive Galway City Council

“ The spirit of volunteerism, which has always been so vibrant in Galway, produced an unparalleled response which helped us to achieve so much in such a short time” says Kevin Kelly Chief Executive Galway County Council

“However it is the people of Galway to whom we owe the greatest gratitude. They truly embraced our ambitions and made them their own..we hope that this process has created a legacy of creativity and cultural democracy for generations of Galwegians to come. Galway 2020 is for them!”, says Patricia Philbin Project Manager, Galway2020.

For a full listing of all Galway2020’s Capital of Culture project, events and activities please go to www.galway2020.com



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