Sunday, 22 May 2016

Any time's the right time to come to Galway!

Aboo festival in action...

“Well when’s a good time to come?”

“Depends on what you want to do while you’re here.”

“Well, I heard something about a Galway festival. When’s that?”

“Hard to say really. See, you’ve already missed the New Inn Mummers Festival, the Music for Galway Midwinter Festival, the Galway Astronomy Festival, the Subtitle Film Festival and the Galway International Rally.”

“Oh, are there any left?”

“Don’t be silly, that was just January. In February we had Tedfest, that’s the Father Ted festival out on Inis Mór, the Muscailt Arts Festival, Seachtain na Gaeilge Festival and Éigse an Spidéil”

“You what? You’ve gone all gobbledegook, mate.”

“Nah, that’s the local lingo my son. Probably nowhere near right, but I do my best. Anyway, you’ve heard of Paddy’s Day? Well they call Lá Fhéile Pádraig, and seeing as Fhéile’s their word for festival, that counts too.

“Then we had the Galway Food Festival, the Clifden Traditional Music Festival, the Galway Dance Days Festival, followed by one of the major events of the year, the Cúirt International Festival of Literature.”

“Is that the one where you got up and read a load of rude words in public?”

“The very same mate. ’Twas a right laugh.”

“Well that’s what I want: a laugh. That’s all really.”

“Well if that’s all you want then come anytime. Honestly mate the best time to come to Galway is when we’re all just getting on with our lives. The city’s perfect for bumping into people, going with the flow until you suddenly realise you’ve missed the evening, half the night and you’re heading into early morning. Right up your street, I imagine.”

“You know me.”

“I do, and you know me, so there’s the other side of Galway too, the county, Connemara and a million places perfect for making sure you bump into nobody at all.”

“So when’s there a gap between festivals?”

“Well now, let’s see. You’ve already missed the Inishbofin Walking Festival, the Leenane Mountain Walking Festival, the Inishbofin Arts Festival, Bealtaine Festival, the International Mayfly Festival, the Connemara Mussel Festival, the Galway County Fleadh, the Galway Early Music Festival, the Galway Theatre Festival and Fleadh na gCuach.”

“Bless you.”

No, wasn’t sneezing. That’s the Cuckoo Fleadh.”

“Right. Whatever you say. Never mind what I’ve missed. What’s coming up?”

“Well, next up is the Galway African Film Festival, the -”


“Bloomin’ right seriously. It’s in its 9th year now. Then there’s the Clarinbridge Banjo Gathering -“

“Now that sounds more like what I’d expect!”

“Stuck in cliché-ridden Ireland, you are mate. Still, if you really want old school, come for Conamara Bog Week, starts next week. Or if that sounds too distant from the comfort of your flat white, come for The Café Arts Festival.”

“Too exciting. I’m trembling.”

“Sarcy bugger. If it’s adrenaline you want then there’s the Venture Cup Powerboat Race in June, the longest, toughest powerboat race in the world, just off Salthill Prom if you don’t mind. More sedate altogether, there’s the Galway Garden Festival, the Connemara Green Festival -”

“Mmmm -”

“Steady boy, green as in ecology, mate, not what you’re thinking at all.”


“Then it’s July and the big hitters move in. Culture Vultures aplenty and not much room for just chilling. Mighty stuff though, with the Galway Film Fleadh, the Galway Fringe Festival and the Galway International Arts Festival. At local level then you’ve the Westside Community Arts Festival and the grandaddy of ‘em all: the Galway Races. Mind you, there’s also the Omey Races, out in west Connemara’s Claddaghduff, horses running on sand at low tide, just fantastic.”

“Pub nearby?”

“Of course.”

“What about late August? Does it quieten down towards Autumn?”

“What do you think? There’s Cruinniu na mBad Festival, with scores of Galway Hookers - oh behave, they're boats - racing in Kinvara, followed by the Connemara Pony Festival, Galway Heritage Week and the Loughrea Medieval Festival. Out west there’s the Oughterrard Agricultural & Horticultural Show, while back in town you’ve the Oscar Wilde Festival, the Galway Races Autumn Meeting and the Clarenbridge Oyster Festival.”

“It just goes on and on. Don’t you people ever work or sleep?”

“We work eat and sleep promoting our city and county, mate, ‘cos we’re at the end of the European road and we have to let people know how great it is out here. 

"Anyway, so then there’s Shorelines Arts Festival in Portumna, Clifden Arts Week, Galway Culture Night, Galway International Oyster Festival, the Ballinasloe International Fair & Festival and the Galway Jazz Festival.

“There’s the Sky Road TV & Film Festival, The Why Not? Adventure Film Festival and the fantastic Baboró International Arts Festival for Children. Then you’ve the Connemara 4 Seasons Autumn Walking Festival, Conamara Sea Week, Food on the Edge and the massive Vodafone Galway Comedy Carnival.”

“Blimey. Does it never stop?”

“Not yet, ‘cos then there’s the Racing Festival, the Bake Fest, the Galway Aboo Halloween Festival and in November we’ve the Tulca Festival of Visual Arts, the Spirit Of Voice Festival and the Galway Science & Technology Festival.”

“What about Christmas? Is that festival free?”

“Are you kidding? That’s the perfect time for the Connemara 4 Seasons Winter Walking Festival, the Christmas market, Galway on Ice and the Cope Christmas Day Swim.”

“Okay then. Seeing as there’s no gaps and I’m completely blinded by choice, I’ll just book a ticket and come out this weekend.”

“Perfect mate. Looking forward to that. Festival or no festival, any weekend is the perfect weekend to come to Galway.”

©Charlie Adley