Upcoming Festivals in Galway

Thinking about coming to Galway but not sure what excuse you can use for the visit? Why not tie your visit in with one of the many upcoming festivals happening in Galway over the next few months… But lets face it, you know you don’t need an excuse to visit our beautifil city May:
Galway Early Music Festival
Transport back in time and explore the medieval, renaissance and baroque music making all around Galway. Three days starting 19th of May, packed full of fun and music whilst being enveloped in the most colourful and rich medieval city in Europe: Galway. The days involve dance workshops, music on the streets and even a drop in coffee concert. Tickets can be booked through Town Hall Theatre and most all events are family friendly.

Galway International Arts Festival

One of the most exciting times in Galway city, come and find out why Galway was voted 2020 European Capital of Culture! The 40th anniversary of the International Arts Fest kicks off on the 17th of July and lasts till the 30th. The festival is a celebration of the arts and for people of all ages to enjoy. Four world premier theater productions have already been announced; and tons more soon to come! Two artists that you can’t miss are Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys and Irish singer and song write Gavin James. Galway will be a buzz of culture! Come for the arts and stay for the craic!

See a full list of events for #GIAF17 here.

Galway Fringe Festival

The Galway Fringe Festival is a multidisciplinary Arts Festival based in Galway City. The festival has an international roster of talented artists and encompasses visual art, music, theatre, dance, literature, cabaret and exciting street spectacles. The Galway Fringe Festival also realises the vital importance of providing a platform for home-grown artists and aims to showcase our national talent to the world and to Galway. Running from July 15th until the 30th, it adds to the amazing atmosphere around the city!

For more information of the Fringe Festical, click here.

Galway Pride Festival
The ever so eclectic LGBT community will be pleasing the masses this year with all kinds of events and activities planned for the week starting 11th of August. Come out to show your support and have some fun with the events planned! Stay tuned for updates!

Galway Races
Galway’s pride and joy: Galway Races. The race track (located in Ballybrit) will be a buzz with stunning fashion and an eclectic atmosphere. First race is Monday July 31st and will go through the 6th of August. Take part in daily events such as Ladies Day and family days with a mad hatter competition. You can place bets on course or just stick around for the craic. Check out the website for ticket information here.

Galway Theatre Festival



That’s right blog enthusiasts – the festival spirit that Galway is famous for is starting to rear its wonderful head and with it, the first signs of summer are in the air! (yes, we get summer here. And no, the weather doesn’t improve much. Well apart from that one week where the sun will split the stones and you’ll see enough pastey Irish men to do you for a lifetime, other than that, I apologise for my country’s temperamental weather!). But what we lack in Mediterranean climate during the summer, we make up for in European bohemian vibes! The months of April to September are basically a litany of festivals for every possible discerning taste, but I have to admit, the arts festivals are my favourite amongst them! They bring a wonderful energy to Galway as well as people that want to explore and find out what makes the city tick. And what better way to do this than through the arts! That’s what makes travelling to the city for the arts so inviting, it’s like feeling the heartbeat of Galway all around you, and you can’t help but get swept up!Galway_Theatre_Festival_Kinlay_Hostel

This year’s Galway Theatre Festival, the 9th for those of you counting, is the perfect example of this. Galway’s own indigenous artists mingle with those from further afield to showcase an eclectic programme, full of the different varieties of the performing arts. But it is the situation and nature of Galway itself that allows for this diversity. Galway is basically as far west as you can go in mainland Europe (I’m looking at you Cabo da Roca, Portugal) and people from incredibly varied backgrounds settle here. It has become a melting pot of experiences and voices, and this makes it the perfect hub to nurture all these different forms of art and self-expression.

The Festival kicks off on 29th of April and runs until 7th May, and let me tell you, you’re not gonna be bored in Galway for those dates! A few shows pre-empt the festival on the 27th and 28th, one of which is The Blue Boy presented by the GTF guest artists, BrokenTalkers. The company has already toured extensively within and beyond Ireland with the show, but due to a huge demand the show is being mounted again. Although it deals with the experiences of men and women who were incarcerated as children in Catholic residential care institutions, the show is highly physical and multi-disciplinary, so it promises an unforgettable theatre experience. The opening bank holiday weekend of the festival further highlights a hugely diverse range of theatre and art, with productions such as My Poet Dark and Slender by MmmTheatre, TURF by The Rowan Tolley Company, Sisters of the Rising by Christiane O’ Mahony and Expectations by Sarah Hoover. These range from devised theatre based on a Padraic O’ Conaire poem, an installation art piece about, well, turf!, a play centred on two women’s involvement in the 1916 Rising and a durational performance art piece. These pieces are taking place in theatres and spaces all across Galway city, so check for all the details (as well as all the other shows I haven’t mentioned here!)

Featured during this weekend as well is the Dance Theatre Triple Bill that’ll be in An Taibhdhearc theatre on Middle Street. There are 3 shows on as part of this (in case you didn’t know what triple bill means :P), 2 of which your humble blog writer is involved in! I’m directing and choreographing a show called GHOSTS, a dance piece based on The Divine Comedy by Dante Aligheri, which is on the 30th April and 1st May at 4.30pm. We’re also performing it under the banner of #wakingthefeministswest, which if you haven’t heard of, go and look it up right now! I’m also doing it under the name of my new theatre company, Sonar Theatre, so if you’d like to keep up to date with what we’re up to, follow us on Twitter @sonar_theatre or find our facebook page! And then from directing and choreographing, I’m performing in a show called eXXcYpt (said like “except”) at 6pm on the same dates (I’m gonna be a busy man!). eXxcYpt is a movement piece created by Jérémie Cyr-Cooke and myself, about the Irish and English languages and their influence upon each other, both historically and culturally. Basically a great day of theatre altogether and you guys should all definitely come and support us and be great 😛
But everything I’ve mentioned here is just a tiny tiny taster of what the whole festival has to offer. Ones to look out for for the rest of the festival are Always Alone Together by Game Theory, Mary Mary Mary by Fregoli Theatre, Wasted by NoRopes Theatre Company, a series of events by #wakingthefeministswest and the show with my personal favourite title, What Good Is Looking Well When You’re Rotten On The Inside, by Emma O’ Grady. It’s set to be a wonderful few days in Galway and the first injection of summer festival fun! So please check out the website, support the artists and have a wonderful time while doing it! You can get tickets for the shows at, or just ringing The Town Hall Theatre on 091-569777. Hopefully I’ll be seeing your lovely faces in a theatre some time soon 😉 See you next week for regularly scheduled blogging!

– Martin at Kinlay Reception

Nora Barnacle’s House

While it’s true the buildings of Galway do make up a large part of its history, with their differing architecture and powerful presence, this blog has so far neglected one of the most important aspects of the city’s history – the people. For every ornate carving or ruin of city wall, there is the story of the person who made it or lived in it. Judging by the kind of people that are in Galway in the present day, the ones centuries ago must have been quite the characters! But there is one particular landmark in Galway city which is so linked with its former inhabitant that it in fact still bares her name. That place is of course the Nora Barnacle House on Bowling Green, a two minute walk from the end of Shop Street, across from St. Nicholas’ Church.
Nora Barnacle could indeed be one of the most influential figures in Irish writing, and those of you with literary leanings have probably come across the name before. Nora Barnacle was the wife of James Joyce, the celebrated Irish writer who was a leader in the European avant-garde movement. She was often cited as his muse, several characters in his books being based off her and her experiences. Perhaps the best known of these characters is Molly Bloom, wife to Leopold Bloom in the odyssey Ulysses. Her famous words, “yes I said yes I will Yes” finish off the marathon novel, a wonderful tribute to Nora herself, a woman of ambition and certainty in Joyce’s eyes. In fact, the date on which Ulysses is set, June 16 1904 (now called Bloomsday) is that of their first date. It is clear she had a huge influence upon his work and supported him in his creative efforts, which wasn’t always easy in a relationship fraught with poverty and alcoholism on Joyce’s part. But she remained true to her name, Joyce’s father proclaiming, “Barnacle; she’ll stick to him” upon hearing Nora’s surname for the first time. But before she became wife and muse to Joyce, she was a native of Galway and every muse has to grow up somewhere.

The house on Bowling Green was Nora’s childhood home where she lived until 1903. Her early life was fraught with hardship before they settled in this house with her mother, uncle and 6 other younger siblings. She had been sent to live with her grandmother, Catherine Mortimer Healy, in 1886 and stayed until 1889, beginning school at this time. By the time she had completed school in 1896, her mother had thrown their father out as a result of his drinking and subsequently separated. In that same year, a teenager called Michael Feeney who she had fallen in love with died of typhoid and pneumonia, followed 4 years later by the death of another boyfriend Michael Bodkin. It was also a fight with her uncle about dating a Protestant boy called Willie Mulvagh which caused her to leave for Dublin in 1903, where she met James Joyce the following year. And this house in Galway city was the hub of all the activity! It was built in the 1800s and consisted of two rooms and a tiny back yard with the ground floor room serving as a kitchen, dining room, and often a bedroom. Cooking was done over an open fire, in pot ovens and on large griddles. Water was drawn from a pump across the street as the house did not receive its own supply until the 1940s.The upstairs room was a communal bedroom, meaning that all 8 people staying in the house were crammed into 2 floors of the smallest house on the street! Within a year of meeting in Dublin, Nora and James eloped to Europe, where they would eventually settle in Trieste in Italy, far from her native Galway. They would have two children there, Giorgio and Lucia who would visit Ireland and in fact enter into Nora’s old home. In 1909 Joyce in fact met his mother-in-law (even though him and Nora would not actually marry until 1931) Annie Barnacle in the house, penning a letter later to Nora saying how they had been received with open arms. Nora would sadly only ever visit Galway once again, as on this second visit troubles to do with the Irish War of Independence would cause Nora to never want to return. She ended up settling in Zurich in Germany after Joyce passed away there in 1941, herself dying in 1951 due to renal failure at the age of 67.
After Annie Barnacle passed away in 1940, the house became derelict in the following years. In 1987 however, it was purchased by Sheila and Mary Gallagher who turned it into a visitors’ centre. They returned it to its turn of the century condition and over the years thousands of people have visited the landmark. Sadly however, the house will not be open this year to visit due to financial reasons. The house remains with a plaque outside designating it as Nora’s birthplace and any Joyce/arts enthusiasts should still visit – how often do you get to say you stood in the exact same place as one of the world’s most influential writers? The people of a place are what mostly make it unique, and Nora Barnacle is the prime example of this. One little house on an inconspicuous street in a city on the west coast of Ireland is a wealth of historical and artistic inspiration – come to our city and see what other histories you can come across, they’re just waiting to be found! That’s it again for this week, see you lovely readers again soon!

– Martin