Lifestyle – A multi-media show celebrating the role played by Gaeltacht regions in inspiring the Rising opens in Galway’s Town Hall Theatre next week. Judy Murphy delves into its background.
Altan’s Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Connemara musician Johnny Óg Connolly have joined forces with award-winning director Darach Mac Con Iomaire, artist Seán Ó Flaithearta and a host of other performers for a multi-media show celebrating the role played by Gaeltacht regions in inspiring the 1916 Rising.
Aisling? also explores how these peripheral regions were largely neglected by the State in the years since independence.
First staged in the former Arramara Seaweed Factory in Rosmuc in November 2016 as part of the centenary celebrations of the Easter Rising, Aisling? is now being revived, with funding from the Arts Council and Creative Ireland.
The piece which translates as Dream? will be staged at Galway’s Town Hall Theatre next Friday and Saturday, August 31 and September 1, before transferring to Dublin’s Olympia Theatre and from there to Waterford, Belfast, Derry and Ráth Chairn in Meath.
Musicians, poets, writers, visual artists and composers from Ireland’s Gaeltacht regions have collaborated to create Aisling?, where original music and song feature alongside poetry and theatrical elements, with design by Aran artist Seán Ó Flaithearta.
“Music links the piece,” Darach explains, adding that the main ‘character’ is a currach created by Seán, “that is a metaphor for us (Ireland and the Gaeltacht) in its many different manifestations”.
The idea for Aisling? was first mooted in early 2016 as part of the Easter Rising commemorations, when Mícheál Ó Fearraigh of Ealaín na Gaeltachta approached Darach. He wanted the writer, director and actor to create a show featuring the work of artists who were born or who lived in Gaeltacht regions; a piece that would have 1916 as its starting point.
“We agreed that different artists would be commissioned to create new work; music poetry, dance, design,” says Darach.
Given that broad brief, the director contacted some of Ireland’s finest musicians, poets, dancers and visual artists, all from Gaeltacht regions, and they began the creative process by exploring what the 1916 centenary meant to them.
Realising that this was a unique, if scary opportunity for all involved, “the first thing was the process of elimination, discussing what we didn’t want to do”.
They didn’t want a straightforward narrative, partly because their show was being staged in November of 2016, “when a lot of people would have had their fill of 1916 events. We wanted to challenge ourselves and our audience”, says Darach,
Having shared their thoughts on 1916, the writers, musicians, dancers and designers went away and formulated their individual responses to the Rising.
“And it was my job to shape it so that everything would fit together,” Darach explains.
The idea was to create a “metaphorical, subtle production that worked and would engage the audience at several levels, where the audience would have to work with us”.
The resulting piece was a narrative in four movements, with Seán Ó Flaithearta currach creations being central to all four.
Aisling? opens by exploring the influence of Ireland’s Gaeltacht regions on the leaders of 1916. Those behind the Rising felt that these peripheral places, where the Irish language and culture remained so strong, could offer a vision for the country’s future once independence from England had been achieved.
But these people knew that taking on the might of the British Empire was an impossible task, Darach states, so their vision also included the notion of a glorious failure, which they’d accepted as being necessary for independence.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Shannon back in full flight!
There was a festive atmosphere at Shannon Airport this week as the inaugural Ryanair Corfu service prepared to take flight – ahead of another new service to Gran Canaria, which begins this week.
The new route to the popular Greek Island will operate twice weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays until the end of October, and the new weekly Ryanair service to Gran Canaria (Las Palmas) begins this Saturday.
All of this means that Shannon Airport is now serving Alicante, Barcelona, Stansted, Gatwick, Kaunas, Krakow, Wroclaw, Warsaw, Manchester, Corfu, Faro, Lanzarote, Malaga, Palma, Tenerife, Gran Canaria (Las Palmas) and Turin.
Passengers on the first Corfu-bound flight enjoyed a pre-departure reception in the airport’s transit lounge which was decorated in festive style.
To celebrate the new routes, the airport gave one lucky passenger a special surprise, return flight tickets for two people to a choice of one of Shannon Airport’s 17 exciting destinations.
A special water cannon salute by the airport’s fire service added an extra sense of occasion as airport staff welcomed passengers and looked after them throughout their time in the airport.
Welcoming the new air services Mary Considine, CEO, Shannon Group, which owns and manages Shannon Airport said: “The global pandemic has had a huge impact on all our lives and being able to once again welcome our passengers as they take to the skies bound for sun drenched holiday destinations is really wonderful.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Pixies slot proves time is now for the Clockworks
Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell
When Pixies were announced as Galway International Arts Festival headliners way back in 2019, a promising Loughrea four-piece were fresh from relocating to London and bullishly embracing their role as the new faces of former Oasis manager Alan McGee’s Creation 23 record label.
Two years on, the US alt-rock pioneers are yet to grace the Big Top – but the Clockworks, made up of James McGregor, Tom Freeman, Seán Connolly and Damian Greaney, are set to make a US debut in their company with a series of support slots that cement their place as one of Galway’s biggest artistic exports.
In less than six weeks’ time, Pixies will embark on a September tour of the states with the Clockworks by their side for six gigs. The Galway group play their own maiden headline US show in New York’s Mercury Loung on September 8.
On their horizon too, is an end-of-year Irish tour with Dublin indie-rock outfit Inhaler as well as a host of festival appearances, barring cancellations.
With news of the Pixies tour coming in the same week NewDad were announced as support for Fontaines D.C.’s highly anticipated Belfast show on August 13, it is powerful evidence of the ground Galway acts continue to break.
“It’s very exciting to have loads of gigs lined up after absolutely nothing for so long,” James admits.
“It’s really nice to feel like we’re going to hit the ground running and when Pixies came through, that was just amazing and what a way to start. It’s our first time gigging in America – my first time going there personally.
“All four of us are massive fans of Pixies too. Any time they’d come to Ireland, we’d always try and throw our hat in the ring for a support slot and just to think that now we’ll be going around the States with them is insane.”
Read the full interview in this week’s Groove Tube, in the Connacht Tribune – on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital version from www.connachttribune.ie
All out in force to cheer home one of their own
Sitting on an airplane, mid-air from Japan en route to Dublin, Olympic bronze medallist from Moycullen, Fiona Murtagh was unsure whether anyone would be at the airport to meet her and teammates Aifric Keogh of Na Forbacha, Eimear Lambe and Emily Hegarty when they touched down.
Because of Covid-19 restrictions, there was no big welcoming party planned for Dublin Airport. But Fiona need not have worried; as she strode out of airport security and into Arrivals, all her family were there to hug her.
Fiona hadn’t seen her parents Marguerite and Noel since April because of a pre-Olympic training camp in Italy; and her siblings Pádraig, Lorraine and twin Alan all turned up, too.
“Oh my God, I couldn’t believe it. It was actually really emotional, it was so lovely. I didn’t expect the full family to be there. Tears came to my eyes. I hadn’t seen mom and my dad in seven weeks,” said Fiona.
That was just the first leg of what was to be a heart-warming homecoming for a hero.
The family drove back to Galway with Fiona, who had heard “through the grapevine that there was going to be something in Bushypark”.
“But the scale of it, I didn’t expect it at all, it was incredible, it was so lovely to see everyone come out and support and see me”, she said.
Read the full story over eleven pages of coverage on the homecoming of our Olympic heroes in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie