Moth & Butterfly festival puts stories centre stage

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

Heart Fire is the theme of a storytelling and improvisation festival that’s taking place in Galway and online from next Thursday to Sunday, February 1-4.

It’s the fourth annual festival from the Moth & Butterfly group who have been running regular monthly storytelling and improv events in Galway for over 13 years, in addition to collaborating with festivals locally and globally.

A series of stories and conversations, entitled Home/Land, will be made available online next Thursday, February 1, as part of the festival. These can be accessed for free online until the following Sunday. at They will feature people living in County Galway, including artists, Irish language speakers, people with a disability and recent immigrants. Home/Land poses the questions: ‘What is home? what is this land?, with participants giving their responses.

Unlike the festival’s early years, when Covid meant most shows were online, almost everything this year is in-person.

First up is Earth and Hearth, a performance and presentation from climate activist Saoirse Exton. It’s at the University of Galway’s O’Donoghue Theatre at 1pm next Thursday, in association with the UG Arts in Action programme and it’s free.

From Limerick,18-year-old Saoirse is the founder of the Fridays for Future global movement. She’s also the youngest member of the UN Secretary General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change.

For her show, she will delve into mythology to give an insight into how our ancestors valued the planet, and how the fight for climate justice requires us to cherish the past as well as the future, as we humans try to rebuild our connections with the Earth. Earth and Hearth is for ages 16+.

An online webinar, Irish with Mollie, at 7.30pm on Thursday will focus on Irish for storytellers. Again, it looks to the past and how Irish has informed the ancient skill of storytelling in this country. Also for ages 16+, it will take place on Zoom and costs €5.

The idea with this event – suitable for all levels of Irish language learning, according to Moth & Butterfly – is to have participants brainstorm (tobsmaoineamh) words and phrases that will ignite a story.  It’s being hosted by Irish language educator, Mollie Guidera, who weaves storytelling and etymology into her innovative teaching methods. She uses Instagram and TikTok for this, as well as giving online webinars and courses.

Pictured: Climate activist Saoirse Exton will give a performance and presentation, Earth and Hearth.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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