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Galway Arts Festival line-up includes four world premieres



Four world premieres, including a major new play Arlington [a love story] by Enda Walsh; an array of Olivier and Tony Award-winning playwrights and directors  including Ivo van Hove, Lee Hall, Jim Culleton and Garry Hynes; musicians ranging from Elvis Costello  to The Gloaming;  a major new commissioned exhibition from artist  Hughie O’Donoghue; and a  Street Art Programme featuring Francisco de Pájaro’s Art is Trash, are among the highlights of the 39th Galway International Arts Festival. It takes place from July 11-24.

Artists and companies from Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands Scotland, Spain and the USA join forces with artists from Ireland for this year’s event, which has a strong focus on home-produced work.

“More and more, we are involved in producing new work and are delighted that we will have so many premieres this summer,” said the Festival’s Chief Executive John Crumlish.

Irish highlights include the world premiere of Arlington [a love story] written and directed by Enda Walsh, starring Charlie Murphy, Hugh O’Conor and  Oona Doherty. Reuniting  the creative team behind Ballyturk and Misterman, it’s a co-production from Landmark Productions and the Arts Festival.

Invitation to a Journey is inspired by the life and work of Wexford woman Eileen Gray, a pioneer of modernist design.  This is a Festival co-production with CoisCéim Dance Theatre, Crash Ensemble and Fishamble.
Death at Intervals by Kellie Hughes stars Olwen Fouéré and Raymond Scannell. There’s also  a new short text Kitchen by Enda Walsh, presented in a gallery setting and featuring the voice of Eileen Walsh.
Meanwhile, Druid presents Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, directed by Garry Hynes.

International theatre and dance highlights include the Irish premieres of Song From Far Away directed by the acclaimed Ivo van Hove, who recently directed David Bowie’s musical Lazarus in New York, for which Enda Walsh wrote the book. The  theatre hit of the 2015  Edinburgh Festivals,Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour by  Lee Hall, a National Theatre of Scotland and Live Theatre production is also coming, as is  Australian circus and acrobatic company Gravity & Other Myths with A Simple Space.

The  Street Art &Spectacle Programme features gigantic Insects  from Spain’s Sarruga; a daring trapeze show, The Scent of Sawdust byLes P’Tits Bras from France, and contemporary street and urban artistFrancisco de Pájaro whose  pop-up sculpture and installation Art Is Trash offers a new perspective on junk.

Live at the Absolut Big Top(co-produced with the Róisín Dubh) features concerts from Elvis Costello and The Imposters with special guests The Undertones; Britpop icons Suede,; the Gloaming; Villagers with special guest Mick Flannery; and some of Ireland’s biggest-selling music acts of recent times – Bell X1and Imelda May with special guest Damien Dempsey.

Other music highlights include Dan Deacon, The Souljazz Orchestra, Brian Deady, God Is An Astronaut, Pleasure Beach, Mary Coughlan, amongst others at the Róisín Dubh; We Banjo 3 and Tommy Emmanuel in Seapoint Ballroom; Donal Dineen’s the Pipes, The Pipes at St. Nicholas’ Church; Stomptown Brass, Hothouse Flowers, Sharon Shannon Band, The Henry Girls, Mundy, Sean Smyth and Traditional Music Showcases at Monroe’s Live; with DJ sets at Electric.
GIAF’s First Thought Talks have been expanded, with discussions focusing on identity. A range of talks will explore the  theme of identity across a wide platform, including talks on political, personal, cultural and digital identity.

Speakers include activists, constitutional lawyer, artists, politicians, academics, entrepreneurs, journalists, composers and poets, including The Guardian’s theatre critic Michael Billington; transgender actor Rebecca Root; top US model Cameron Russell; performer and activistRory O’Neill; artists John Gerrard and Varvara Shavrova; scientist Professor AbhayPandit; and author David Berreby, among others.

Festival 2016 sees the return of the Festival Gallery at the former Connacht Tribune Print Works, home to a major new exhibition and Festival commission, One Hundred Years And Four Quarters, by acclaimed Irish artist Hughie O’Donoghue. This forms part of the official Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme. The Festival will also host exhibitions by Irish artists including Spectres of Modernity by Ruth McHugh; Making Ireland Modern by architects Gary A. Boyd and John McLaughlin; Foreign Bodies by Elisabetta di Sopra, Giancarlo Marcali and Border Crossings presented by Galway International Arts Festival, Galway Arts Centre and SASA Gallery Australia.


Bikers do their bit to mark anniversary of blood service



The Blood Bike team and supporters with the charity’ s newest motorbike, Cara, during the fundraising day at the Galway Plaza. Pictured are (from left) John Moylan, Bridie Lyons (Fundraising Manager), Sean Griffin, Fergus Turner, James Treacy, Pat McDonagh, Dave O'Leary (Chairperson), Ronan Kane (Fleet Manager), and Sergio Massidda.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Blood Bike West, and the big birthday was marked in style with a sun-drenched afternoon at Galway Plaza’s Bike Fest West.

Galway stuntman Mattie Griffin was the headline attraction; there was face painting, games, plenty of ice-cream – and hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts and families.

The birthday celebrations kicked off with a 160-strong motorcycle spin around the Galway countryside, raising well-needed funds for the volunteering efforts of Blood Bike West.

As a 100% volunteer-run and funded organisation, donations are vitally important for Blood Bike West to continue operating their medical transport in the West of Ireland.

Since its inception in 2012, demand for their volunteers’ services continues to grow:  collecting and delivering all manner of urgent medical items regionally and nationally, such as bloods, breast milk, medicines, scans, and equipment.

In 2021 alone, Blood Bike West delivered 983 urgent medical deliveries throughout the country.

As part of Galway City Councils Community, Blood Bike West undertook to operate a 24/7 service, including 165 medication deliveries from pharmacies to the self-isolating and vulnerable during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Since Blood Bike West’s inception in 2012, this increase sees the ongoing need to replace and renew their fleet of motorcycles.

Their motorbikes, Madison, Heather, Margaret, and newly inaugurated bike Cara, are regularly seen on Galway roads, delivering consignments to and from local and regional hospitals.


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Park fun to mark Africa Day



Pam Mncube-Zoki of Africa United Galway, speaking at the National Integration Conference at NUI Galway last week. The group are co-organisers of Africa Day which takes place in Salthill Park on May 28. Photo:xposure

On Saturday next (May 28) in Salthill Park, Galway’s African community invites people to join them in a celebration of culture as part of the national Africa Day celebrations.

Africa United Galway, emerging from lockdown and having hosted online festivals for the past two years, will be delivering a family fun day event.

Africa Day 2022 will reinforce a collaboration between Africa United Galway and Galway Africa Diaspora, Shining Light Galway and GoCom Radio (broadcasting live), who have worked to create a festival that will showcase Galway as a city of culture.

Among the performances on the day will be Afrobeat dancer Lapree Lala of Southside Moves, who will show how to dance in African style; Elikya Band will be bringing indigenous African Congolese music; The Youth Performances will be displaying their talent in rap, singing, speaking, and dancing and for the young at heart.

Galway Afrobeat performer Dave Kody will get the crowd moving and there will be poetry through spoken word and cultural displays. There will be a photo booth and face painting and everyone will get to have a taste of African cuisines.

In the spirit of inclusion and integration, The St Nicholas Collegiate Church Parish Choir will be presenting a special African performance as well as a feature presentation by the Hession School of Irish Dance, who will be presenting the famous Riverdance.

Also organised is a football friendly between the African community and An Garda Siochana.

The Mayor, Colette Connolly, will officially be opening the event with a keynote speech and several African Ambassadors are expected to be present on the day to reinforce the culture, beauty and strength of Africa and support for its people.

Africa Day is sponsored by Irish Aid and supported by Galway City Council.

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Domestic Violence Response recorded highest number of clients in 24 years under Covid ‘shadow’



At the launch of the Domestic Violence Response (DVR) Annual Report were Rachel Doyle and Elizabeth Power of DVR, Deputy Catherine Connolly and Anne Reynolds. Photos Sean Lydon


A domestic violence support charity in Galway has recorded its highest number of clients in 24 years – “under the shadow” of Covid-19.

Domestic Violence Response (DVR), which is based in Moycullen, also reported its highest level of counselling support sessions in its 2021 annual report published last week.

The charity saw 136 new clients in 2021, and a total of 266 people utilised its services. It also saw a significant increase of return service users.

The support service also provided 51 nights of emergency accommodation through a partnership between Airbnb, Safe Ireland, and Women’s Aid.

Elizabeth Power, Coordinator of DVR Galway, said: “Our 2021 annual report highlights the stark reality of the level of domestic violence in Galway. Under the shadow of Covid-19, DVR recorded the highest number of clients in our 24-year history and delivered the highest number of support services.

“Our staff noted increases in the level of worrying and harrowing experiences of control and abuse. The trauma of these experiences will live with our service users long after Covid-19 fades into memory.

“While Covid-19 restrictions are behind us, domestic violence continues to be present in hundreds of homes throughout Galway.

“As we move through 2022, we will continue to provide our much-needed services to women and men throughout Galway, with an extensive counselling support and advocacy service and a number of new initiatives including a partnership with the HSE which will be launched in the coming months.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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