The 27th Earagail Arts Festival which began last Friday, July 10 offers over 100 performances, exhibitions, films, readings, talks, seminars and special events for children, in three main geographic areas Letterkenny/Ballybofey, Iarthar Dhún na nGall and Inishowen.
This event, now the mainstay in the county’s cultural calendar, was initiated by Donegal County Council in 1989. It continued to be managed and delivered by Donegal County Council until 2004 when a limited company, Earagail Arts Festival Management Company Ltd., was set up by the Council to run the festival on its behalf. The festival is now year-round enterprise, managed by three full and part-time staff. At festival time, this increases to ten, plus an additional forty, invaluable festival volunteers. The current Festival Director is Paul Brown.
The festival was begun by Traolach Ó Fionnáin who has been Arts Officer with Donegal County Council since 1988. He outlines the reasons why it came about.
“The Council initiated the festival to provide an annual, high profile platform for the work of local, Donegal artists; to provide a context in which to programme high quality work by visiting artists – both from other parts of Ireland and from overseas – and to provide an exciting, impactful arts event for local and visiting audiences, that would be on a par with similar arts festival events in Galway, Kilkenny and, at that time, in Sligo,” he says.
Looking at this year’s schedule of events Traolach is happy that it contains a rich and varied music programme which started with last weekend’s inaugural Donegal International Folk and Roots Festival in Letterkenny.
“There is also brilliant theatre in the shape of Róise Goan and Caitríona McLaughlin’s tribute to the cottage hand-knitters of West Donegal, ‘She Knit The Roof’, which will happen in the Old Crolly Doll Factory in Crolly from Wednesday to Saturday, July 22-25; the LUXe landscape theatre’s night-time promenade show, ‘Imramh na Gealaí’, on Oileán Árainn Mhór and at Glebe House and Gallery, Churchill on Wednesday and Saturday, July 15 and 18 and of course, not forgetting Bread and Roses Theatre’s comic farce of hyper-inflation in 1970s Italy, Dario Fo’s classic ‘Can’t Pay ? Won’t Pay ! ‘, which can be enjoyed at An Grianán Theatre, on Thursday and Friday, July 16 and 17.”
Traolach also points to some must-see visual arts offerings such as the stunning Gilles Caron and Omar Yashruti photographs of Derry, Belfast and Beiruit, showing at the Regional Cultural Centre; Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh’s wonderfully evocative Donegal Photo Album at Donegal County Museum, The Glebe Gallery Churchill’s selection from the Art Collection of Trinity College, Dublin and the hugely anticipated return of the An Cosán Glas artists collective’s magical night-time sculpture trail show, Loinnir, to Trá Machaire Rabhartaigh, Gort a’Choirce, on Saturday and Sunday, July 18 and 19.
He is excited about the future of the Earagail Arts Festival and how it is developing in various directions.
“The festival continues to fulfil, and indeed further develop, its arts development remit within Donegal and the North West region, through commissioning new work across various art forms, by opening up collaborative opportunities for Donegal-based and visiting, international artists and continues to produce significant works in spectacular settings and locations for which Donegal is renowned, such as Oileán Arainn Mhór, Fort Dunree, Ards Forest Park, Trá Mhachaire Rabhartaigh, Glebe House and Gallery, and others,” he said.
- The festival, which runs to Sunday, July 26, is a venue-based music and arts event with eclectic and alternative music, visual arts, circus and theatre programmes alongside the spoken word, film, family and children centred events and workshops.
- Events are held in venues from purpose built theatres and galleries, to village halls, forests and beaches, creating a unique cultural experience in the most unlikely of magical places.
- Earagail Arts Festival is a bilingual (Irish and English language), multidisciplinary arts festival.
- You can find out more at (074) 9168800; by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or on the web at www.eaf.ie.
- Booking for all festival events is via An Grianán Theatre Box Office at (074) 9120777 or online through the festival website www.eaf.ie .