Black Gate opens a portal to culture

Peadar King, nearest camera, and Eamonn Day Lavelle, founders of the new Black Gate Cultural Centre: “It’s a building that’s ready for anything,” says Peadar. Photo: Iain McDonald.
Peadar King, nearest camera, and Eamonn Day Lavelle, founders of the new Black Gate Cultural Centre: “It’s a building that’s ready for anything,” says Peadar. Photo: Iain McDonald.

Lifestyle –  Judy Murphy talks to the men behind an innovative new creative space on the Galway scene

We want to do stuff to engage the brain,” says Peadar King, “presentations, discussions, run a place that acts as a sounding board for things and ideas.  A place like that doesn’t really exist in Galway.”

Well, it does now, since Peadar and his lifelong friend Eamon Day Lavelle – both from Inishbofin – have opened the Black Gate Cultural Centre, on the city’s Francis Street.

This is warm, convivial place, with a well-stocked wine bar where you can enjoy a plate of food and a glass of wine or cup of tea while listening to live music, watching a film, listening to a talk or a reading, or just having a discussion.  As far as the two founders are concerned, the possibilities are limitless.

“Eamonn and I have been talking about it for a long time,” says Peadar of this new initiative. “We wanted to do something in town and this is a natural progression,” adds the Inishbofin man who is the driving force behind the highly regarded annual Inish Arts Festival, now in its third year which will take place on the Connemara island in June.

The building, which many years ago was home to the Yacht Bar and more recently housed a café for teenagers, has been totally reimagined to create the Black Gate. Downstairs, across three levels, there are three separate connected areas, where events of all sorts will take place, including live music, films, talks, singers and performances.

The timbers, tiles, and counters are all newly installed – in the case of the counter, it was handmade, while the eclectic furniture is mostly upcycled. A room, just a few steps up from the main wine-bar, has a couch and armchairs as well as dining tables, and there are shelves full of books. A room just a few steps down is an ideal space for concerts. More paintings, books and extra lights have arrived since our interview – the centre is a work in progress, says Peadar, but the art already includes work by Joe Boske and posters from the first two Inish festivals.

The Black Gate is a lovely space, and on Thursday of last week, several members of a local theatre group are planning their next campaign over lunch, while it has also been attracting students and staff from NUIG and from local businesses. Customers are as welcome to have a coffee and read their book or newspaper as they are to have lunch, according to Peadar.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.