First Thought Talks at GIAF 2022

1 July 2022

Explores the big issues and challenges of the day as part of Galway International Arts Festival

Always a hugely popular part of the Festival, Galway International Arts Festival’s thought leadership platform, First Thought Talks, presented in association with Education Partner, NUI Galway, returns exploring the big issues and challenges of the day.

An eclectic series of interviews, conversations and debate / discussions will feature leading Irish and international voices from around the world - academics, activists, artists, theatre-makers, journalists and authors. The topics include the Middle Ground in Northern Ireland, a conversation with award–winning film and video game composer and conductor Eímear Noone, exploring Climate Again with Kevin O’Sullivan; debating the topic of Cheap Houses in Ireland, Empathy and Homelessness with Conn Holohan, the challenges of being a multinational coming out of the West of Ireland, Donnacha O’Beachain on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Kevin Rafter discussing the Arts in Ireland and more.


Entanglement | First Thought -12 July, 1pm

Members of its curatorial team ANNEX discuss the making of the Pavilion in conversation with artist and philosopher El Putnam. Entanglement, the Irish Pavilion from the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021 currently showing at GIAF, explores the materiality of data and the interwoven human, environmental, and cultural impacts of information and communication technologies. This is part of the Irish tour of Ireland at Venice which is supported by the Arts Council as part of its commitment to promote architecture to Irish audiences.

Venue: Fairgreen Gallery

Eimear Noone - 13 July, 4pm

Galway born, LA based Eímear Noone is an award–winning film and videogame composer and conductor. As one of the world’s premier composers of games scores, Eímear is responsible for some of the most enduring soundscapes on World of Warcraft. Eímear also conducts orchestras worldwide and in 2020 she made history by becoming the first female conductor to perform at the 92nd Academy Awards ceremony. Eimear will be interviewed about her life and work by GIAF Artistic Director Paul Fahy.

Venue: O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Tickets €10

Steppenwolf Stories - 13 July, 1pm

From Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, newly appointed Artistic Directors Audrey Francis and Glenn Davies and Executive Director Brooke Flanagan discuss the challenges of running a theatre company in an ever changing, challenging and contemporary America, and building a new auditorium during a pandemic. They are joined in conversation by Paul Fahy, Artistic Director GIAF.

Venue: O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Tickets €10

Maureen Dowd - 15 July, 7pm

Probably the best–known newspaper columnist in the US, Maureen Dowd’s weekly column is read by millions every week. She has brought us into her world of informed opinion on all the big issues and personalities of the day, since 1995 when she began writing op–ed pieces in the New York Times. She is a two–time Pulitzer Prize winner, the recipient of an honourary doctorate from NUI Galway, and a person of proud west of Ireland heritage. She will be in conversation with Fintan O’Toole, whose latest book, We Don’t Know Ourselves, has received rave reviews in the US and the UK.

Venue: O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Tickets €10

Bread - 16 July, 6pm

The last time we had compulsory tillage in Ireland was during World War 2. Now we may have it again, due to grain shortage caused by the war in Ukraine. Dr. Caitriona Clear, social historian at NUI Galway, will tell us what the bread was like in the 1940s, and how cookery writers like Maura Laverty tried to circumvent the problems posed by poor grain. She will be in discussion with Gerry Godley, former Director of the Leeds Conservatoire, currently training as a master baker.

Venue: O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Tickets €10

Cheap houses in Ireland? - 16 July, 4pm

We have a housing crisis, and we’ve had one for many years. One solution to it would be to bring back into use even one third of the 180,000 vacant properties in Ireland, not counting holiday homes. Towns and villages could be revitalised, and people able to live in unique and interesting houses.

Our panel includes Maggie Molloy and Kieran McCarthy of RTÉ’s Cheap Irish Houses, who find properties for less than €200,000 and advise on improvement costs. Also on the panel and passionate about restoring derelict and unused properties in Mayo’s towns is Tom Gilligan, Director of Services at Mayo County Council. Kathy Sheridan, Irish Times Journalist and co-author of The Builders, will moderate.

Venue: O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Tickets €10

Drowning - 16 July, 2pm

Sean Binder, a German citizen raised in Ireland, is a certified rescue diver who has spent years of his young life rescuing migrants from the sea at Lesbos in Greece, one of the major points of entry for refugees to Europe. He is facing charges by the Greek government of people smuggling, espionage and other trumped–up charges for his humanitarian work in saving lives. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in jail. He is an eloquent and electrifying spokesman for the work he does. He will be interviewed by Professor John Morrissey, Associate Director of the Moore Institute at NUI Galway, and an advisor to the UN on refugee matters.

Venue: O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Tickets €10

Middle Ground in Northern Ireland? - 16 July, 11:30am

For some time, it has been apparent that a large number of voters [as much as 40%] do not want to vote for Sinn Fein or the DUP. The Alliance Party is likely to emerge as the third biggest party in the North after the May elections. What does this growing constituency imply for a possible move away from the binary system of government envisaged by the Good Friday Agreement? Discussing this fascinating issue will be Connie Egan, newly elected MLA for North Down, Jonathan Tonge, Professor of Politics at Liverpool University, where the best polling on Northern Ireland has carried out, and Freya McClements, Northern Editor of the Irish Times. The discussion will be moderated by broadcaster and author Dearbhail McDonald.

Venue: O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Tickets €10

Climate, again - 17 July, 11am

The recent IPCC report has reminded us that even though we have been focusing on the pandemic, the terrible war in Ukraine and other events, climate change continues, inexorably, to be the biggest threat to our planet. To bring you up to date and advise on solutions, Kevin O’Sullivan, Environment Editor of the Irish Times joins Sadhbh O’Neill, former Green Party Councillor, Professor at the School of Law and Government DCU and coordinator of the successful Climate Case Ireland 2020.

Venue: O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Tickets €10

Empathy and Homelessness - 17 July, 1pm

Conn Holohan, Course Director of the BA in Film & Digital Media at NUI Galway, is creating a project with clients of Galway Simon, which aims to capture participants’ life stories as oral history and virtual reality, thus empowering the participants and creating empathy in viewers who have not experienced such life stories. He will be joined by a programme participant from Galway Simon, and will give audiences a demonstration of how the project works.

Venue: O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Tickets €10

An Irish Multinational - 23 July, 11:30am

Aerogen is an Irish company based in Galway, that is at the forefront of the development of aerosolised drug delivery systems, which will be crucial for the next generation of vaccines. John Power has built the company from its base in Galway to become a global leader in what it does. Now established as a multinational in the West of Ireland, what will next steps for Aerogen be? John will be interviewed by Ian Kehoe, Editor of The Currency, twice named Ireland’s Business Journalist of the Year.

Venue: O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Tickets €10

Drugs and Greed - 23 July, 4pm

Empire of Pain; The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, by Patrick Radden Keefe, electrified readers when it appeared last year, with its incredibly well researched and beautifully written account of one American family’s creation of an opioid crisis which killed hundreds of thousands of people. The Sacklers’ ruthless exploitation of pain and despair to increase their unbelievable profits contrasts with their desire to be known as cultural and medical philanthropists, and to have their family name adorn various august institutions. This book has put an end to at least some of that. Patrick Radden Keefe joining remotely will be interviewed by Catriona Crowe, Curator of First Thought Talks.

Venue: O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Tickets €10

Second Captains - 23 July, 6pm

Second Captains are known for their expert, fresh and funny take on all things sporting. Their Saturday RTÉ programme confers honours on those who could have been sporting contenders [some undeserving]. Their podcast is listened to by very important people. The Captains visiting Galway are Ciaran Murphy and Eoin McDevitt. They will be in conversation with Mike Finnerty, sports editor of the Mayo News and lecturer in journalism at NUI Galway.

Venue: O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Tickets €10

Ukraine and Russia - 23 July, 2pm

Donnacha O’Beachain is Professor of Politics at Dublin City University. He will have been seen and heard in the media by many people since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, as he is an expert on post–Soviet politics, among many other things. He will be talking about the origins of the conflict, its progress and possibilities for the future, ranging from a troubled peace to an unimaginable World War 3. He will be in conversation with Oleksandr Bohomolov, Director of Ukraine's National Institute for Strategic Studies, who will join from Ukraine and Ruadhán Mac Cormaic, Assistant Editor, Irish Times and author of The Irish Supreme Court.

Venue: O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Tickets €10

The Arts in Ireland - 24 July, 1pm

Kevin Rafter, Professor of Political Communication at Dublin City University, has been Chair of the Arts Council since 2019. The intervening years have seen hard times for artists, as the pandemic closed down performance venues and festivals everywhere. The Arts Council response has been praised by artists’ groups for its efficiency and understanding. Now that we are returning to some kind of normal, it is important to hear the views of the Arts Council Chair on the future direction of the sector. Professor Rafter will be interviewed by Deirdre Falvey, Arts writer with the Irish Times.

Venue: O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Tickets €10

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