Otherworldly beasts brave Galway gales for Macnas parade madness

Up to 35,000 attend Galway street carnival

Ragged- trousered philanthropists, waifs and misfits ran amok in Galway last evening, as Macnas street theatre troupe braved southwesterly gales with its Halloween parade.

In spite of a grim weather forecast, up to 35,000 people converged on the city to witness torch-bearing skeletons and Lewis Carroll characters, and all manner of ugly and otherwordly beasts.

On the Night Journey was the title of the event, planned after Macnas's annual star turn at the Galway Arts Festival fell through this year due to funding differences.

Hero of the twilight carnival was the larger-than-life Boy Explorer, chasing three “dream weavers” – a stag, a horse and a hare – and being chased in turn by figures from his own imagination.


The 24-strong Macnas “young ensemble” formed a troupe of misfits, followed closely by a giant cockroach giving birth to a baby, a dragonfly on a penny farthing, a Weimar-style brass band, and a group of wizards embroiled in “discovering curiosity, happiness and inventiveness”.

A vulcan dancing troupe of blacksmiths, “panel-beating love, hurt and transformation” were accompanied by a group of ballerinas and a “beautiful waltzing bear” .

Macnas artistic director Noeline Kavanagh had promised shades of TS Eliot's epitaph "In my beginning is my end . . . in my end is my beginning". There were flares, drummers, light and smoke, stilt-walking and shadows and magic, before the bespoke-costumed figures disappeared back into the night, for another year.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

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