Friday, August 5, 2011

Guest Post by Rosemary: Adventures and the Galway Arts Festival

Today's guest post is from Rosemary, a college friend who blogs about having adventures. If my blog is a slice of life in Dublin, Rosemary's blog is a cake made from the west coast. Visit her at and see if you love her voice as much as I do - Ellen.

My name is Rosemary and I am an adventuraholic.

This summer has been a little crap for adventuring, what with it pissing rain constantly and being colder than a penguin's nipple. As a result, my adventuring, what little I have done, has been more indoors than out. Meanwhile it is Festival Season in Galway (April to October) which means we're all too drunk to notice the rain, and happily stand in puddles sipping from our plastic glasses idly begrudging some Canadian juggler, escapologist, or magician the applause they so vocally crave. Don't ask me why they're all Canadian.

Unfortunately, it is currently Race Week, which is the one which Galwegians have the most mixed emotions about. Sure, its great for our faltering economy: the pubs are heaving, the guesthouses are booked out despite their higher than usual rates, and the street sweepers have fierce colourful mornings, but you also can't get a fucking pint in the city for love nor money, and winking at your favourite barmen just pisses them off. So we stay in our houses and sulk for a week, letting the out-of-towners overrun Ballybrit, and then Quay Street in their suits and fascinators. A close friend resolutely refuses to leave her house for a full 24 hours every Lady's Day. She told me earlier that unless its pouring torrentially she won't budge. Why leave the house if its pouring, you may ask? "To see those dozy bitches with their wet feathers and flat hair stumbling around town in the afternoon."

Personally, I take the week to catch up on my work, visit the charming but oft-neglected public houses of Salthill (Oslo and The Cottage are favourites), and reflect on the amazing Galway Film Fleadh, and Arts Festival.

In all honesty I'm unqualified to reflect on the Film Fleadh because I have never, I repeat never attended an event. Which is odd, because I'm excellent at getting off my ass and doing things. I have an entire blog based on my capacity to simply stand up, go somewhere, and do something fun. So why have I not, in the five full years I've lived in Galway, attended a Film Fleadh event? I honestly don't know. Its a self fulfilling prophecy now, the same as the Aran Islands: I've never visited those either. Its partly financial. Did you know the ferry to the Aran Islands is €32? Unless you travel with a local, in which case its free. I'm waiting to befriend a local. I digress. The Film Fleadh directly precedes the Arts Festival and I much prefer theatre, dance and live music to film. That's just me. I'm waiting to befriend an actor/director. Then I'll go. 

The Arts Festival was much stronger on theatre and visual art this year than music. The music thing kind of ticked me off. We had Blondie again, which is awesome; I mean who doesn't love Blondie? But she was also here in 2008. Can anyone name a song Blondie has released in the last three years? No? Exactly. The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble was another one. They opened for De La Soul and were reportedly awesome. However they are playing a free gig on Friday 31st as part of the Rosin Dubh organised West End Street Party (presumably a sub-festival of the racing festival). Sickener for those who paid €32.50 to see them in the Big Top last week...

The Absolut Gallery was in-freakin-credible. Just stunning. Hughie O’Donoghue's work in progress, The Road, brings together text and image. Resembling a book, each panel has a leaf from Gramina Britannica, the Victorian book of British Grasses, along with an image. The images are called Anabasis, and represent O'Donoghue's father's war journey. Anabasis is Xenophon's fifth century version of the Odyssey. Yes, I had to Wikipedia that. It is a hugely ambitious work, speaks volumes (ba da bum, ching) to children of emigrants and is a bibliophiles's wet dream. One can even read (ba da bum, ching! I'm on fire!) a subtle argument in the e-book debate, Book Vs eBook: Papyrus with a Vengance

Arcane, a street show in Eyre Square, was an acrobatic spectacle performed by two Frenchmen who must have been made of bamboo and kryptonite, so strong and bendy were they. I make a point of attending an acrobatics or dance show every year, so was distraught to miss the Controlled Falling Project which, judging by how quickly it sold out, deserved a much larger venue. 

But this is really all just preamble. The jewel of the festival, the performance everyone was talking about, was Misterman and I, ladies and gentlemen, was lucky enough to attend the final show. That was three days ago and I'm still struggling to formulate a response. It was everything it was hyped to be. Cillian Murphy (who, by the way, is a short arse), was energetic, ironic, and so enthralling one quickly forgot his Hollywood status. Personally I only imagined him fleeing zombies for the first few minutes. The play is choreographed like a Swiss watch, with props dropping from the sky or being produced by the solo performer not just at the right time, but on the right syllable. It is very very funny, but with Enda Walsh's signature sadness, a few laughs at what is fundamentally a deeply, deeply tragic story. The state of Thomas Magill's mental health is open to interpretation. Are the characters he mimics real, alive? Or is he an agoraphobe, locked in his home and his own mind, doomed to perpetually live out his day, groundhog style, until he gets it right. And ultimately doomed to get it wrong every time. Is he in an institution? Is he in hell?

I have a friend, a member of the Fregoli theatre company, who has a rant about standing ovations. She once told me that everyone is too quick to leap from their seats after a show. "When the cast bows, you sit down and clap. When the cast comes out again, you stay seated and continue to clap. When the directors comes out, if you physically cannot keep your ass in your seat, if you have been so moved by what you have just seen that the muscles in your legs come alive independent of your cerebral process, acting solely on the strength of your emotion, propelling you upwards, then, and only then, you stand."

She was out of her seat before the lights had fully dimmed.


  1. ... which begs me to ask who Cillian Murphy is but then that's what Google was invented for!

    Glad the festival was everything it could ever be and more!

    Take care

  2. I love this woman! If this is what Rosemary's writing is like, she's got a new follower :)

  3. Oh! Thank you Sarah. What a lovely compliment.

  4. We Canucks like exporting our buskers. If we could only export the mimes too, but there's no getting rid of them.

    Galway sounds like a busy place! Nice to meet you!


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