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Arts Festival set to attract 180,000 people



Organisers of the Galway International Arts Festival are predicting increased audiences of around 12.5% for this year’s extravaganza of theatre, dance, music, comedy and art.

The performances at the 2015 festival, which officially opens on Monday, are expected to attract audiences of 180,000, according to Artistic Director, Paul Fahy.

Last year audiences of 160,000 attended free and paid-for shows, and Mr Fahy is expecting an increase of about 20,000 due to a bigger street performance programme, extra shows in the Big Top and quality theatre.

The worldwide success of shows such as Ballyturk and Riverrun, which attracted audiences of 72,000 in the past year in venues outside of Galway including London, Dublin Cork, Edinburgh, New York and Australia, are also helping to boost international audiences. Some 34% of audiences in 2014 were international.

Around €20 million was pumped directly into the local economy as a direct result of last year’s festival, according to independent research carried out by Fáilte Ireland and a similar boost is expected this year. Mr Fahy said, aside from the direct economic impact, the festival generates an immeasurable indirect impact on Galway as well as adding a quantitative value and artistic value.

Mr Fahy said he is extremely excited ahead of the official opening of the event, on Monday, which is traditionally the busiest day for the festival box office.

On the theatre-front, Mr Fahy advises festival-goers to check out The Match Box, a Galway Arts Festival production starring Cathy Belton and directed by Joan Sheehy – tickets sales are brisk so book early.

Luck Just Kissed You Hello, a play that explores issues of identity and father and child relationships, is a “very funny and very moving”, he said. “There is an acerbic wit; it’s very biting.”

Exhibit B is another “unmissable” show. Part performance, part installation this is a critique of historic racism and colonialism, that has a resonance with today and what is going on in terms of asylum seekers in Direct Provision in Ireland and refugees fleeing on boats in the Mediterranean.

Mr Fahy said it was “the most powerful piece” he has witnessed in the festival over the past 10 years in terms of “personal, political and social impact it has”.

Other highlights include, A Girl’s Bedroom by Enda Walsh, Maum at An Taibhdhearc and Pat McCabe’s The Dead School by the Galway Youth Theatre and Galway Community Theatre at Nuns’ Island Theatre.

The hottest band in the country right now, Kodaline, has sold out the Big Top twice, and Damien Rice is also sold out. Tickets for Sinéad O’Connor at the Big Top (Thursday, July 23) are selling well. Mr Fahy said St. Vincent at the Big Top (Tuesday, July 14) will be “one of the gigs of the year”. “I adore her, it will be great,” he said.

There is a varied musical programme this year and Mr Fahy said that they are almost a “mini classical music festival” within the festival. He said the star attraction is John Wilson, renowned conductor, and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra’s Orchestral Masterworks at the Bailey Allen Hall in NUI Galway.

There will be 96 musicians on stage in what promises to be an “epic” performance. “There is sometimes a barrier to classical music but John Wilson makes classical music accessible and he brings the best out of musicians when he is conducting. It is going to be epic.”

The ‘big family show’ this year is Live Live Cinema Little Shop of Horrors, which goes at “break neck speed” and is “fantastic fun” for all the family.

Street spectacles are always a free highlight of the festival and this year is no exception. Transe Express from France brings The Giant Divas & Les Tambours to the streets of the city on Friday, July 17 at 10pm and Saturday July 18 at 6pm.

Three giant divas will move through the city streets singing opera and they’ll be joined by a band of tin soldier drummers.

Man on the Moon is a “great show” featuring circus skills and acrobatics by George Orange on Friday, July 17 and Saturday July 18 at Fr Burke Park and not Spanish Parade as per the programme.

The Skywhale, which is causing quite a stir from its spectacular looking picture in the programme, is having its first outing on Monday. The 100 feet long and 70 feet tall Skywhale will be tethered at various locations in the city throughout the week and people are asked to keep an eye on social media for updates of when and where it will fly.

One of the highlights of the visual arts programme is Relativity by Patricia Piccinini at the Festival Gallery at the Connacht Tribune on Market Street. Other highlights include Martin Healy’s Terrain at Galway Arts Centre, Borders by Varvara Shavrova at the Docks and Meta-Perceptual Helmets by Cleary Connolly and Neil McKenzie at University Hospital Galway.

For your chance to win a flight in the Skywhale, click HERE


Connacht Tribune

Galway historian’s 14 new books bring running total to 70!



Steve Dolan.

There may be a book in everyone – but producing 18 of them for publication in one week is taking it to a different level. And yet that’s what Galway historian Steve Dolan has done for Heritage Week. . . adding 18 books this year to bring him up to 70 over the last seven years – and he’s firmly committed to hitting one hundred.

By day – and given the workload, increasingly by night – he is the chief executive of Galway Rural Development (GRD), but the Carrabane resident has had a lifelong passion for history. And that’s what he turns to as a form of relaxation which peaks at this time every year.

Not alone that; he already has the first five of next year’s publications completed – and he’s only starting!

This year’s booklets are all on the theme of Gaelic Games and every one of them is in aid of a different community group or charity. Theoretically, they are limited editions, but – given his own love of the subject matter – he won’t see anyone who shares that passion miss out.

While all eighteen new publications share that GAA theme, the diversity of subject matter within that is breath-taking – and an incredible achievement in terms of the workload and production.

From the story of the county title that Liam Mellows were robbed of in 1942 to the contribution of An Cath Gaedhealach to Galway GAA in 1947/48 or Galway’s 1923 and 1925 All-Ireland victories to sport in County Galway during the revolutionary years; the books are as much about social history as about sport.

See the full list of publications in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

And if they are of interest to you, you can contact Steve at to buy them.

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Connacht Tribune

Why did Galway suffer just half as many Covid deaths as Mayo?



Galway and Mayo, two neighbouring counties, have had hugely contrasting experiences with Covid-19-related deaths.

Analysis of the latest figures reveals that Mayo’s Covid mortality rate is more than double that of Galway’s.

The disparity has prompted a Galway West TD to call for an investigation to see what caused the disparity.

Fresh data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) shows that Covid deaths in Galway have topped the 250 milestone.

Up to the end of July, HSPC has been notified of some 251 Covid deaths in Galway since the Pandemic was declared in 2020.

This gives a mortality rate of 97.3 per 100,000 population, which is the second lowest of any county in the Republic after Sligo.

During the same timeframe, neighbouring Mayo notified 296 Covid deaths, which gives a mortality rate of 226.8 per 100,000.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Hurling legend’s distillery plans for heart of Conamara



Joe Connolly....Conamara vision.

Plans have been lodged to build a multi-million euro whiskey distillery on the Conamara coastline – the brainchild of Galway hurling legend Joe Connolly and his family.

And if it gets the green light, it will square a circle that has its roots firmly in the same Conamara soil – where both of the All-Ireland-winning Galway captain’s grandfathers were renowned distillers too . . . only of the illegal variety.

The plans for the Cnoc Buí Whiskey Distillery & Heritage Centre outside Carna – lodged by Údarás na Gaeltachta on behalf of Drioglann Iarthar na Gaillimhe Teoranta – describe a facility that will provide a first-class visitor experience and greatly enhance the local area’s tourism offering.

Once complete, Cnoc Buí will comprise the distillery itself, bonded warehousing, a bottling hall and tasting bar – as well as the heritage centre, shop and café.

That will create over 30 jobs in the first five years, with the heritage centre alone aiming to attract 16,000 visitors in the first year of operation – rising to at least 52,000 by year five in Iorras Aithneach, an area blighted by unemployment and emigration.

On top of that, their own economic analysis envisages the creation of another 130 jobs in the Carna/Cill Chiarain area – in leisure, hospitality and accommodation on foot of that significant increase in visitor numbers.

The Connollys see Cnoc Buí as ‘an asset which will enrich the entire community’.

“It will enhance the local tourism product and serve as a focal point for both the local community and visitors,” said Cnoc Buí director Barry Connolly.

“The building has been carefully designed to reflect the beauty of its surroundings, because we want our distillery to be an attractive hub, with its Visitors’ Centre and Tasting Bar. It will provide employment, draw in tourists and add value to other business in the area,” he added.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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