Galway secures Unesco city of film title

First Irish city to secure film designation as part of creative cities network

Galway has been congratulated on securing the first Irish City of Film designation from Unesco, by Irish Film Board chairman Bill O'Herlihy.

The designation, which has permanent status, was announced by Unesco director-general Irina Bokova in Paris, as one of five worldwide.

“This is a major international achievement not just for Galway, but for the country,” Mr O’Herlihy said.

“ Film has always run through the veins of Galway, and holds a strong cultural, artistic and economic value,”he


“The appointment of Galway as a permanent Unesco City of Film is recognition of the value of Irish filmmakers – directors, writers, producers, the Galway Film Centre, the Galway Film Fleadh, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board and TG4 – to the cultural fabric of Galway,” he said.

"This will open so many opportunities for Galway that it is actually quite overwhelming," Galway Film Centre manager Declan Gibbons said.

Over 50 organisations were involved in the Galway bid which was co-ordinated primarily by Mr Gibbons, along with film-maker Lelia Doolan of the Picture Palace and Dr Jenny Dagg of NUI Galway (NUIG).

Significantly, no consultants were employed in the low-budget bid, Mr Gibbons said. The designation comes with no money, but considerable status and prestige, and will “open many doors”, he said.

Some 63 cities worldwide had been shortlisted for the designation. The film and television industry in the western capital is valued at €72 million, and employs over 600 people full-time.

Galway’s final application was submitted in March 2014. The selection means that it now formally joins the Unesco’s Creative Cities network. It is also a boost for Galway’s campaign to become European Capital of Culture in 2020.

The Unesco Creative Cities network seeks to “develop international cooperation amongst cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable development”. Dublin won Unesco City of Literature status in 2009.

Mayor of Galway Donal Lyons (Ind) and Galway County Council cathaoirleach Mary Hoade (FF) paid tribute to those involved in the bid.

The announcement comes several days after Galway Film Centre's annual film and television seminar, with participants including Beau Willimon, creator and show runner of the Netflix drama series House of Cards, former Channel 4 television drama head Gub Neal, who is producer of the hit series The Fall and BAFTA-winning producer Claire Jennings.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times