GAA meets dance in Theatre Fest show


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

GAA meets dance in Theatre Fest show GAA meets dance in Theatre Fest show

GAA meets modern dance in a dance show that’s being staged this weekend as part of Galway Theatre Festival.

Ham Sandwiches and Discipline was created by Dubliner Nóra Ní Anluan Fay, who will perform it alongside fellow dancer Ben Sullivan.

Nóra grew up in a family that was steeped in GAA – they’re involved in Cuala GAA Club where her brother plays his hurling.

She studied Dance and Choreography in the Netherlands Fontys University and started her own company, NAF Dance during her final year, before graduating in 2023.

Her first choreographic work, Let Them Eat Cake, was chosen to represent the Netherlands in the 2022 Szoloduo Festival  in Budapest.

While she was in college, Nóra was back at home in DubLin one night, watching The Sunday Game with her family, and she became mesmerised by Pat Spillane’s gestures. His hand movements and the passion with which he spoke gave her the inspiration for this contemporary dance duet about Irishness – the world of the GAA and traditional Irish sports, with all its raw theatricality and comedy too, she observes.

Ham Sandwiches and Discipline features 30 jerseys drying on the line, muddy stud boots, vexed commentators, sideline screaming and ritualistic trips to matches as it explores what it means to be Irish in an ever-changing world.

It culminates in “a hive of Irishness injected with camp and comedy” says Nóra of the piece for which they’ve created their own clubs with crests, as well as wild and wacky costumes for the umpires and referees.

Nóra began developing the show in the Uillinn Arts Centre, West Cork, in July 2023, when she was dance-artist in residence there for two weeks.

“I collaborated with the local GAA club, O’Donovan Rossa, the Junior Ladies’ team in particular, to push the work forward,” she explains.

She had known Ben O’Sullivan since they first worked with CoisCéim Dance Company as teenagers and they’ve have had similar artistic journeys, while Ben’s family are also involved in the GAA, so they had lots of shared experiences.

Following that initial process, they showed the work-in-progress during Skibbereen Arts Festival.

Nóra developed it further in August of 2023 when she had a fortnight’s residency with Galway Dance Project, and she had a final week in Dublin in November with Dance Ireland.

She and Ben premiered in Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre in February at the Scene and Heard Festival, and the pair have just returned from performing it at the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris.

“I’m delighted to be bringing it back to Galway as our time there was so important in making the piece what it could be,” says Nóra. “It’s also the first time we’re performing it as a 50-minute piece which makes it all the more special.”

Ham Sandwiches and Discipline takes place this Sunday and Monday, May 5 and 6, at 8pm in An Taibhdhearc. Booking at

For more information on Galway Theatre Festival, go to

Pictured: Nóra Ní Anluain Fay and Ben Sullivan in Ham Sandwiches and Discipline.

More like this:

Sign Up To get Weekly Sports UPDATES

Go Up