Memories of the Heineken® Big Top by Dr. Mary McGill

16 May 2022

"I can’t pick one memory of the Heineken® Big Top. There are far too many."

Book Tickets to the GIAF22 Heineken® Big Top

Every year I walk by Fisheries Field too many times to count. It is an unremarkable spot, flat and green and largely empty as fields tend to be. If you didn’t know Galway you might assume that it is a field as ordinary as any other. On that point, you’d be wrong.

If the Gods are willing, for a few precious days each year, Fisheries Field is transformed. At the heart of the transformation is the Heineken® Big Top, a cathedral to music and a mecca for those who worship it. Upon its arrival, Fisheries is no longer a mere field; it is a playground, a heartscape, a spectacle that lights up the Corrib waters on balmy summer evenings like something from a film.

Inside is where the magic happens. The ethereal opening strains of Orbital’s Belfast. Wayne Coyne rolling through the crowd in a giant plastic bubble. Chic getting their freak on like its Studio 54 and disco never went away. The glorious madness of silent discos. The RTÉ Concert Orchestra lifting the roof with the greatest film scores, the kind of music you haven’t really heard until you hear it live.

I can’t pick one memory of the Heineken® Big Top. There are far too many. After the last two and a half years, I am grateful for every one of them. And I am especially grateful that our grand old cathedral is coming back. I’ve got my tickets for the Pixies and The Flaming Lips ready to go. Like a broken tape deck from the Nineties, the kind I used to record songs off the radio, our lives have been stuck on pause for too long. It’s time to press play.

Blog by Dr Mary McGill, Media Studies lecturer, journalist and author of The Visibility Trap: Sexism, Surveillance and Social Media

Book Tickets to the GIAF22 Heineken® Big Top