Galway gears up for international arts festival and Fringe festival

Congregational hall a new ‘playhouse’ venue for Fringe festival

The Galway Fringe Festival is a multidisciplinary Arts Festival encompassing visual art, music, theatre, dance, literature, cabaret, street spectacle and events. IThe festival runs from the 12th - 28th of July. Video: Daniel O'Connor


Suns never set on festivals in Galway, with two gearing up to open even as the film fleadh draws to a close.

Sculptor John Behan initiated the city’s Fringe festival last night, while Galway International Arts Festival kicks off on Monday.

Over 500 participants, including 59 international artists, are participating in the third annual Galway Fringe which has secured a mid-19th century congregational church as its main theatre venue.

The Columban Hall, built in 1863 and designed by Raffles Brown, is now the “Galway Playhouse” for the next fortnight, according to Fringe director Claire Keegan, with five shows daily.

Mick Donnellan’s Radio Luxembourg, with actors Neil Molloy, Callaghan O’Connell and Zaina Newesser, opens in the hall tonight, while some 18 theatre productions booked include Fregoli Theatre, Skytashe Dance Theatre, Dhá Láimh and more.

The Fringe’s visual arts programme involves 18 exhibitions, based at the festival “hub” in the Dominican Hall on the Claddagh and at various venues.

Workshops for children and their adults take place at the Galway City Museum, while artist Fiona Reilly is offering tours of Galway’s surveillance systems in an exploration of the relations between public and private.

Nanu Nanu, The Altered Hours and The Hardcore Priests of Yemen are among indie, electro, rock and pop music acts, while the Irish Beatbox Championships will take place on July 26th, and the Fringe Fiddle Festival is on July 19th.

Former In Tua Nua member Paul Byrne will bring his seven-piece band to the Victorial Hotel on July 25th.

The Galway Fringe relies on over 50 volunteers, and only pays its technical staff. “We are very well supported by Galway City Council and Foras na Gaeilge and local businesses,” Ms Keegan said. “Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to secure any funding whatsoever from the Arts Council which is very very disappointing.”

Galway Fringe has three box offices at the Columban Hall Sea Road and 3 Lombard Street from 10am to 10pm, and at the Victoria Hotel from 12pm to 10pm.

A documentary on the life and work of the late Northern trade union leader and first female president of Ictu Inez McCormack, directed by Trevor Birney, will be screened on the final day of the 26th annual Galway Film Fleadh tomorrow, when actress Brenda Fricker will also participate in a public interview in the Town Hall Theatre.

Arts Council director Orlaith McBride unveils the Galway International Arts Festival’s visual arts programme tomorrow with playwright Enda Walsh performing the official festival opening on Monday night.