Sunday 26 May 2019


Dreamt I was made CEO of Galway Capital of Culture 2020.

Cripes! I know nothing about how to run a festival.

Going to need help, so thank goodness I’m dealing with a city crammed to the cracks with arts administrators, theatre directors, musicians, writers, artists, filmmakers, photographers and experienced volunteers.

Everything I need is right here.

First set up a gathering of Galway cultural legends: Ollie Jennings, Paul Fahy, Padraig Breathneach, James Harrold and Garry Hynes.

That’s a phenomenal amount of organising, directing and creating talent and I’ve barely drawn breath.

I’ll listen to these people, because they know the culture of city and county inside out. They meld place and meitheal into their art and administrative craft.

Not planning on changing much of Galway’s artistic and cultural calendar for my 2020. Our year is already packed with festivals and celebrations, but we have to raise some serious dosh under the 2020 banner, to enable every event to be funded to the stuffed-up max.

We’ll need publicity for that. How to get the word out?
Kernan Andrews and Judy Murphy on the case. Perfect.

Galway is the ocean, the bay and the river, so I’m launching my 2020 with the excellent crews of the Claddagh Boatmen, sailing a fleet of the Galway hookers that they’ve restored up the river, to deliver a scroll at Spanish Arch.

There’s Little John Nee picking it up and reading it to a massive crowd:

“It’s from Europe! It says we have to party like hell for a year!”

Unleash Galway unto Galway. Little John leads an explosive Macnas parade up Quay Street, homegrown talent channelled by Noeline Kavanagh, simply the best in the world at what they do.

The Galway hookers back at the quay brought with them the culture and language of the Aran Islands and Connemara, so I’m leaping into the gaeilge spirit, by making an Taibhdhearc my 2020 clubhouse.

Time my cúpla became a cúpla more.

Alongside that revered place, Nun’s Island and the Town Hall theatres, come the vibrant GYT, brilliant Blue Teapot and legendary Druid companies. Galway has theatre covered, and our own theatre festival, run by Sorcha Keane, is pumped up and ready to delight.

Music? We’ve Luminosa and ConTempo for classical, while for gigs it’s over to Ollie Jennings, Gugai for his choice picks of current licks, Paul Fahy who books bands that’ll blast the Big Top and the buskers on Shop Street, who force you to see and hear Galway for what it is: a hotbed of expression.

Film? Why as it happens we have a festival already, (are you seeing a trend here?) and damn successful it is too. Galway’s Film Fleadh was rated by MovieMaker magazine as one of the top 50 film festivals in the world, and one of its 25 Coolest Festivals.

They particularly liked the Fleadh’s pitching competition, which invites writers to pitch a treatment to a panel of judges in front of an audience.

If you’re an aficionado of 8mm, the delightful Julien Dorgere runs the Super 8 Shot Film Festival, right here in Galway.

Art? But of course madam, of every kind, from oil to digital, with Matt the Hat and Mags Nolan on board. Sadly, Galway’s municipal gallery is criminally overdue. Shame.

Books! The essence of culture and (you guessed it!) we already have a celebrated literature festival in Cuirt, while Tom Kenny, Charlie Byrne and Vinnie Browne present an inestimable trio to lead us from pulp to poetry and hopefully back again.

What about the kiddies? I can’t expect Heinz and Hildegarde to abandon their beloved progeny while they pontificate the finer points of Tristan and Isolde.

Well, (mmhmm) we have a festival for children too. Aislinn OhEocha has Baboró in fine fettle, and thanks to Kevin Healy, grownups are annually laughing like kids at Galway’s own Comedy Festival.

We’ve storytelling at Moth and Butterfly, Andrais de Staic for thespian fiddlery, Emma O’Sullivan dancing on the streets and I have to stop here, as nothing will happen without heaps of cash.

No problem.

Galway’s businesses have been tapped up ten times too often for sponsorship, but with the names onboard my 2020, they’ll feel confident of its massive success.

They’ll know it’s being done by Galwegians, with Galwegians for Galwegians, and the rest of the world can come too if they want, which they will, in great numbers.

Local sponsorship is vital and also inclusive. Everyone in and outside the city has to feel the buzz of involvement.

No need for local politicians at all, save for traffic stuff. Instead I’d follow the 21st century money to the multinationals, the Medtronics and Bostons, who have PR departments that exist solely to be seen investing in local communities, ever eager to be associated with success.

Then I’d approach major Irish-American corporations in the US and offer tax-deductible packages so wholly irresistible that they’ll rush to slice chunks off their marketing budgets to be a part of it.

Can we feed all these people? We have Enda McEvoy, Seamus Sheridan, Jess Murphy and JP McMahon.

Can we quench their thirst?

Galway has a festival for that: it’s called life.

Organise a year-long party in Galway? There is no better place for it, no more able population.

I’d never look outside for anyone to help run 2020.

That would be ignoring the best of what Galway has to offer, and it’d all go horribly wrong.

©Charlie Adley

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