Galway has a long and rich heritage of theatre, drama and street festivals. Its first theatre was established in Kirwan’s Lane, in the mediaeval quarter, by Wolfe Tone and Richard Martin, the latter also being founder of the RSPCA.

From the innovative street theatre of Macnas to the cutting-edge presentations of Druid – the theatre company of choice for exciting new playwrights – the cultural heritage of Galway is these days expressed in various ways. In fact, the dramatic culture has not only taken its place among the finest in Ireland, it’s gone further, bringing the best of Irish drama to a wider audience.

Druid Theatre, Galway.

Druid is an award-winning creative theatre group that performs in two venues in the City of Tribes. Founded in 1975 by graduates of University College Galway, Garry Hynes, Mick Lally and Marie Mullen, Druid has gone on to win numerous national and international awards for its work, including four prestigious Tony Awards. Whether performing work by Irish or international playwrights, new or established writers, the company is known for its innovation, and its actors and crew for their masterful execution.

The company has been based in a building off Quay Street, at the heart of Galway’s Latin Quarter, since 1979. The lane on which it stands was renamed Druid Lane in 1996 in honour of the company’s 21st birthday. Now known as The Mick Lally Theatre in memory of the iconic Irish actor and founder member, the intimate venue seats 90 attendees. Druid generally stages its productions in Galway a few times a year, but be forewarned – you need to book well in advance to avoid disappointment.

Irish language

An Taibhdhearc is the national Irish language theatre of Ireland, founded almost a century ago in 1928. The building itself is set on the ruins of the city’s original Augustinian friary. The rear wall incorporates a wall from this friary, including some carved stone window frames. With its location on Middle Street, An Taibhdhearc is situated in the heart of medieval Galway.

Actress Siobhán McKenna.

The theatre regularly features musicals, operas and dramas. Many luminaries have appeared at An Taibhdhearc, including playwright and novelist Walter Macken, poet Máirtin Ó Direáin, distinguished actress Siobhán McKenna, and actor Seán McClory.

Town Hall Theatre Galway incorporates a state of the art 400-seat main auditorium and a 52-seat studio space at Courthouse Square, while the nearby, multi-purpose Black Box performance space (550 seated, 800 standing) on Dyke Road presents an extensive and eclectic mix of theatre, concerts, musicals, dance, film, comedy and family shows year-round.

Each year, the venue is the epicentre of activity for virtually all of Galway’s key festivals and cultural events including Galway International Arts Festival, Galway Film Fleadh, Cuirt Festival of Literature, Baboro Children’s Festival and Galway Comedy Festival, to name but a few. Druid have premiered many of their acclaimed and award-winning productions at the venue before they embarked on tours. The venue’s programme proudly features the work of many performers, companies, musical societies and arts organisations, both professional and amateur, from across the city and county.


Founded in Galway in 1986 by Páraic Breathnach, Tom Conroy, Ollie Jennings and Pete Sammon, Macnas first came to prominence nationally, and indeed internationally, two years later in the year that celebrated Dublin’s Millennium. An impressive fibreglass, aluminium and plywood figure of the central character of Gulliver’s Travels floated up the Liffey and was beached on Dollymount Strand as a tribute to one of Dublin’s finest writers, the great satirist Jonathan Swift.

Táin premiered at Spain Expo in 1992 and was part of Galway Arts Festival in the same year. Táin heralded the creation of a new form of Irish theatre for the world stage, combining the elements of movement, live music and dynamic design, and again helped to make Macnas a household name when it was awarded Best Irish Production at the Dublin Theatre Awards Festival that same year.

Versatility is key to the success of Macnas, and nowhere is this more evident than for the 1993 U2 Zooropa Tour. They created the now iconic U2 heads for the Irish band’s ground-breaking tour, and they joined them on the road. A major departure on a number of fronts for Macnas, Rhymes From The Ancient Mariner, was staged in Galway’s newly opened Black Box Theatre in 1996.

While it is some time away, here is a date for your diary. After a break of four years, Macnas returned last year with their iconic Galway Parade, an event for people of every age. Get ready to be captivated and thrilled as Macnas are again expected to take to the streets of Galway over the Halloween bank holiday weekend with an electrifying street parade like never before.

On Sunday, 27 October at 5.30pm, Galway will come alive with Macnas’s brand new and spectacular parade. So, mark your calendars for a night of unparalleled magic, where the past and present converge in a mesmerizing display of artistry and imagination.

Galway offers all of this and much more. Art, pottery, music, craftwork, great food and fills every side street – and an hour’s trip outside the city in almost every direction will take you to some of Ireland’s most beautiful scenery. What’s not to like?

Read more

The Front Row: Life of Pi and new exhibition opens in Dublin

The Book Corner