Galway The Next Capital Of Culture?


The summer brings warm weather, beautiful clear blue skies and plenty of entertainment for the whole family. July is notoriously one of the busiest and most exciting months of the year with festivals, fleadhs, tournaments and celebrations internationally. It is the one month that there is quite literally something for everyone to enjoy. In Ireland the community spirit can be felt by the most cynical of tourists, and the family orientated activities and events amuse the most curious of adults and children alike. The world watched as Germany stampeded their way to becoming world champions, destroying hosts Brazil as they galloped to the final. San Diego Comic Con is in full swing with reveals of all the upcoming blockbuster movies being leaked online by eager fans desperate to share the first teaser trailer of Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. The Tour de France finished on Sunday with Vincenzo Nibali becoming its 101st winner. July is filled with excitement, culture and entertainment. Galway City is no different, offering plenty for the people of Ireland, and visitors, to enjoy and partake in.

Galway is a glorious city, with clean streets and beautiful architecture to feast your eyes on. The atmosphere is relaxed and calm, as the streets fill with visitors and locals relish in all the wonderments the city has to offer. July is a very busy month for Galway, with the annual Film Fleadh, the International Arts Festival and this week it is the Galway Races.  The entire month is event after event that showcases the wonderful culture of the great city, and invites the world to marvel at its magnificence. With so much going on in the city, and the county as a whole, surely Galway should be considered to be an upcoming European Capital of Culture. With speculation that Dublin could be chosen for 2020, potentially making it the first European City to be so twice; it is reasonable to think that Galway would be a better choice for Ireland as a whole.

The 26th Annual Galway Film Fleadh kicked off in real style, as John Carney returned to the festival to debut the superb “Begin Again”. His charming and charismatic introduction had the select few lucky enough to get tickets in raucous laughter, and set the tone for what was a truly special week for the city; which is currently applying to be a recognised city of film, an honour it more than deserves. Jensine’s review of the film can be found here. Introduced himself by the energetic, passionate and simply wonderful Chairperson of the board, Kate O’Toole who’s infectious enthusiasm enthralled the entire audience as she playfully referred to us all as floozies. The vibrant and passionate talks given throughout were a joy and were warmly received by keen crowds. Galway Film Fleadh is an Academy accredited film festival, and one of the most enjoyable I have ever been to. The arts council did wonders, and provided a marvellous week for the entire city. If you have never been, the Fleadh will return next year, and is simply not to be missed as talent from all over Ireland and partner country Canada, as well as the rest of the world, is presented for all to enjoy. With master classes, workshops, talks, screenings and activities it offers something for everyone of all ages and film interests. The welcoming committee and organisers deserve all the plaudits they have and will receive, this is a fun film festival that invited everyone to enjoy.

Following the Fleadh was a tough task, but one the Arts Festival was more than confident of handling. Offering just as much as the Fleadh did for residents and tourists to fawn over the following fortnight, Galway City was more alive than ever. The Christian O’Reilly written play, Chapatti, made its Irish and European debut. Directed by BJ Jones and starring John Mahoney of Frasier fame and the ever delightful Penny Slusher, Chapatti was a warm and tender ode to companionship and old age. The play set the tone for the festival, which was bright, vibrant, evocative and often funny. If summer entertainment was a sport, then Galway City are on track to win the championship.

That leads us to this week, a week that is often referred to as the busiest of the year; Galway Summer Races. The streets will be flooded with race enthusiasts from all around as they descend into the city to watch the adrenaline fuelled surge of thoroughbreds hurtling towards the finish line, clenching betting slips in each hand and praying to the heavens for that stroke of luck. Speaking to Galway residents the city itself can be too hectic during this week, and many avoid it. But for those who enjoy the competitive sport it is a much awaited for and much loved week.

Galway over the last month has been nothing short of euphoric and has delivered astonishing culture and entertainment that have delighted its many visitors. The clean and serene city has come alive and shown the world just how truly remarkable it is, and why it should be more than considered to be the next European City of Culture. The programme has been running since 1985 and aims to build social, cultural and economic development for the chosen cities. In Ireland, only Dublin (1991) and Cork (2005) have been acknowledged as such. With the consistently rising film and arts profile of the city and the never ending work of a strong and passionate council; epitomised at the opening of the Film Fleadh by Kate O’Toole’s passionate introduction, it feels as if there is still much more to come. Galway deserves its moment to shine internationally. Being elevated to be a recognised city of film would potentially increase the chances of the city being awarded such, but with so much to offer there really is every reason for Galway to be honoured for all its glorious achievements.

Ireland is confirmed to host one of the Capitals of Culture in 2020 and with the tireless work put in by its dedicated people, Galway is an obvious choice. With economic difficulties in recent history it would benefit Western Ireland dramatically and of course Ireland as whole. As glorious a city as Dublin is, Ireland still has much more to offer the world; and if only one city can be chosen for the foreseeable future, then my vote would be Galway.

Image courtesy of publishers

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