The only festival in Ireland that celebrates and connects nomadic cultures from around the world will take place at the end of this month, with a vibrant programme of events.
The 3-day Misleór Festival, which starts on Thursday 29 September, includes music, theatre, film, poetry, and visual art from Traveller, Roma, Sámi, Mongolian and Romany Gypsy communities.
Misleór Festival will launch at 6pm on Thursday 29 September in the O’Donoghue Centre at University of Galway.
The event will welcome guest artists and activists, who will share their reflections on nomadic identity.
Night Shift, a brand new play written by Rosaleen McDonagh and directed by Thomas Connors, will be performed each evening at 8pm (29 September – 1 October) in the Mick Lally Theatre.
Featuring an all-Traveller cast, the contemporary drama follows the journey of two young adults from different cultural backgrounds, as they navigate the societal expectations around their relationship.
On Friday 30 September, a number of public panel discussions will take place in the O’Donoghue Theatre.
Guest artists, activists and leaders from nomadic communities around the world, will share diverse perspectives on nomadic identity, discussing cultural rights and the importance of claiming space for nomadism in today’s society.
Hosted by Galway Traveller Movement, the panel discussions will feature Lisa Smith (Romany Gypsy), Hamze Bytyçi (Roma), Veronika Patočková (RomaTrial), Oein DeBhairduin (Traveller), Alisi Telengut (Mongolian), Vanessa Paszkowska (Roma), Sharyn Ward (Traveller), Timimie Märak (Sámi), Axel Olle Sigurd Andersson (Sámi) and Steo Wall (Traveller).
On Friday evening, the festival will screen Nomadic Shorts at 7.30pm in An Taibhdhearc.
This special programme of short films will explore the rich diversity of nomadic cultures, and will include the world premiere of Beoirs Whiden, a short documentary made by local filmmaker PJ Mongan through this year’s Misleór Film Bursary.
The screening will be followed by a Q+A with filmmakers in attendance and a drinks reception at the bar.
At 11am on Saturday 1 October in the O’Donoghue Centre, the Irish Architecture Foundation and special guest Dr Sindy Joyce will present a talk, which explores how Nomadic placemaking should be studied and celebrated as part of Ireland’s urban design heritage.
On Saturday afternoon from 1pm in the O’Donoghue Theatre, the festival will showcase talented young artists from Traveller and Mongolian communities in Ireland.
Black Gate Beginnings will feature live performances by young musicians from the local Traveller community, along with their musical mentor and Traveller artist Steo Wall.
The afternoon programme will also include the world premiere screenings of three film projects created by young people.
CANT Beat is an original hip-hop track and video featuring words in the Cant language, produced by young Travellers in Loughrea, during summer workshops with Atmos Collective.
The screening will also feature a compilation of stop-motion animations made by young people from Mongolian and Traveller communities in Ireland, under the guidance of Mongolian filmmaker Alisi Telengut.
The afternoon will also feature the inspiring short documentary Wheel of Dreams, in which 9 girls from the West Cork Traveller Community fearlessly set out to explore their creative talents, passions and ambitions.
Misleór Illuminated will feature from 7.30pm on Saturday 1 October in Raven Terrace, Galway. This stunning outdoor visual experience showcases images from nomadic artists and cultures, including the local Traveller community, Tibetan nomads, the Bajau (sea nomads) and many more.
A preview showing of Misleór Illuminated will also take place on Friday 23 September (Culture Night) in various locations around Galway city.
The festival finale, Misleór In Song, takes place in the Roisin Dubh from 7pm on Saturday 1 October, featuring an incredible line-up of bands and artists from different nomadic cultures.
Romane Chaja will perform beautiful songs from the rich Romani musical tradition. Sámi spoken word artist Timimie Märak will perform their original poetry alongside Sámi musician Axel Olle Sigurd Andersson.
The evening will also include performances from Traveller musician and wordsmith Steo Wall, and Traveller singer Sharyn Ward, who was a finalist in Ireland’s Got Talent in 2019.
The concert will close with Longford group Galaxy Band, who will be sure to get you on your feet and dancing with their high-energy traditional Roma music.
As a special addition, Misleór Festival is hitting the road to visit the Ballinasloe Horse Fair, which is celebrating its three hundred year anniversary.
On Monday 3 October, an installation of two wooden horses built from recycled materials will be on display in St Michael’s Square, accompanied by Tinsmith Tom McDonnell, who will run an interactive Tinsmithing workshop.
This installation was developed to celebrate the importance of horses in Traveller and nomadic cultures and was a collaboration with members of both Traveller and Mongolian communities, and local artist Tommy Casby. Misleór Illuminated will also take place that evening from 8pm at St Michael’s Church, Ballinasloe.
The local Traveller community expresses their rich cultural identity through traditional and contemporary displays in Nomadic Expression, which is an ongoing exhibition in the Galway City Museum Foyer – available for viewing during museum opening hours.
Misleór (which means ‘wanderer’ in the Irish Traveller language Cant), celebrates and connects nomadic peoples from around the world.
Started in 2019, Misleór is a unique collaboration between local artists and community activists working at local, regional, national and international levels.
The artistic directors are Alice McDowell, an independent filmmaker, and Nora Corcoran, a Community Development Worker with Galway Traveller Movement (GTM).
“This unique festival unites us through our distinct cultures, identity, and nomadic way of life,” said Nora.
“We claim our own space to create a positive narrative through the medium of artistic expression. We also use this space to challenge the unjust experience of discrimination, oppression and forced assimilation. The bond between our communities is very strong.”
Misleór is co-funded by The Arts Council under their Festival Investment Scheme. Additional funding partners include Galway Traveller Movement, Galway City of Film, Ardán, Department of Culture, Screen Ireland, Galway City Council, Creative Ireland, The Black Gate, Music Generation Galway City and Community Knowledge Initiative, University of Galway.
For full programme details, visit misleor.ie.