Countdown to Galway 2020 begins with Clifden fire show

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The final countdown is underway to the opening of the Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture, with the opening celebrations rumbling their way through the county.

The week long celebration rolling its way through the towns of Galway got underway on Sunday to mark the beginning of Galway 2020, with a display of light and sound in Clifden.

A special community cast procession made its way to the centre of Clifden for the lighting of the town sphere, with more fiery celebrations to follow this week in Spiddal, Tuam, Ballinasloe, Athenry, and Portumna.

The cast from each of these events will come together and join others for the spectacular open air finale in South Park, Galway city on Sunday.

There President of Ireland Michael D Higgins will be on hand to officially inaugurate the European Capital of Culture year, joined by Ireland’s poets, artists and musicians for a once in a lifetime experience of fire and fury.

Galway 2020 Creative Director, Helen Marriage said that this is an extraordinary moment, not just for Galway, but for all Ireland.

“Over the coming week we will see the towns of Galway join the celebrations in a fire tour culminating on Saturday in a spectacular open-air show to mark the beginning of Galway’s year as European Capital of Culture 2020. 

“The cast for the opening ceremony brings together hundreds of amazing participants from towns and villages across the County of Galway, who will transform South Park with drumming, chanting and flame.”

Helen added that the celebration taking place on Saturday will be like “nothing we have ever seen in Ireland, and reflects the scale of our cultural programme that will unfold over the coming year.”

The ceremony, which has been imagined as a timeless and authentic celebration of the people and traditions of Galway and Ireland, will be delivered in a dramatic explosion of sound and vision.

Seven hand-carved steel sculptures, the town spheres, each reflecting the stories and traditions of the Galway town they represent will be transformed by flame into giant glowing orbs.

They will stand as beacons lighting up the headland over Galway Bay, where the renowned red sailing boats, the Galway Hookers, will assemble illuminated in the bay.

At the ceremony, a new work by Louis de Paor, one of the most celebrated poets of the Irish Language, will be premièred. Entitled A Call to Ireland and specially created for Galway’s year as European Capital of Culture.

The spoken word piece will feature the familiar voices of Caitlin Ní Chualáin, Olwen Fouéré, Bríd Ní Neachtain, Stephen Rea and Naisrín Elsafty.

Gates open at 4pm and entertainment begins at 5pm with performances by Róisín Elsafty, Amazing Apples and No Crows.

You should plan to arrive in plenty of time so that you find a space and are ready for the main event which starts at 6pm. The approximate end time is 7.45pm