A city that’s long been a hub for Celtic arts and culture, Galway also has a thriving contemporary arts scene, with outstanding arts festivals, boutique studios and artist-run galleries that have garnered international attention. Situated on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, the city is just a short journey from Ashford Castle, making it easy to delve into the Galway arts scene on your next trip.
Galway’s community of creatives exhibit work and host arts events throughout the year, including the internationally renowned Galway International Arts Festival. Taking place each summer, the festival takes over the city’s galleries, theatres and public spaces with exhibitions, performance art and live shows.
Each year this is followed by the autumn event, TULCA Festival of Visual Arts, which aims to educate visitors with a contemporary arts programme of talks, film screenings, gallery tours and workshops, as well as performances and exhibitions.
Many of the venues taking part in each festival are active in the Galway arts community all year round. The Shed is one such venue; located on the middle pier at Galway City Harbour, the 4,000-square-foot warehouse features projects, events and exhibitions by Galway’s visual artists, led by local collaborative, Adapt Galway.
Also central to the art scene is Galway Arts Centre, which showcases international and Irish contemporary art. And, in addition to its regular exhibitions, the venue also hosts workshops covering a broad range of disciplines.
The exhibition space, 126 Artist-Run Gallery – which plays a part in both arts festivals – also exhibits exciting contemporary art, with a residency programme on the nearby rural ARTFarm. To try your hand at creating your own artwork, join a printmaking workshop at Galway Print Studio, where both beginners and experienced printmakers are welcome.
Without even stepping inside Galway’s galleries and studio spaces, the city’s creativity can be seen through its colourful displays of street art; as you wander between the city’s lively streets and its harbour, look out for murals in public spaces, as well as the street performances Galway is famous for.
If film is your art of choice, head over to the six-day summer festival Galway Film Fleadh (in its 28th year in 2016), with each edition bringing visitors from across the world to the west coast of Ireland.
For theatrical performances, visit The Mick Lally Theatre where the Druid Theatre Company is based between their greatly acclaimed theatre tours across Ireland. The upcoming performance of ‘Big Maggie’ will be taking place from 29th January to 20th February 2016.
While staying at Ashford Castle, there’s also the chance to catch film screenings – including The Quiet Man starring John Wayne, which was filmed in the castle grounds – in the estate’s own boutique cinema where guests can settle into sumptuous red velvet seats and feast on freshly made popcorn.
With days spent soaking up the arts of Ireland’s west coast, retreat to the comfort of the castle’s eating and drinking venues for some hearty local fare and warm Irish hospitality.
Header image: Galway Arts Festival showcases acts like ‘The Giant Divas & Les Tambours’ by Transe Express © photo by Andrew Downes, Xposure