The Final Curtain Call

28 July 2022

And here we are, at the final curtain call of 2022.

It’s always the same at the end, that feeling of “can we keep it?”

It’s the sense I had on Saturday evening, rushing over Salmon Weir Bridge at the sound of The Frames cranking up in the Big Top. It was a wet evening, a gloomy one, but the energy and lights of Fisheries Field were more than a match for the rain.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could do this every weekend?” I said to my compatriots. Indeed it would, was the unanimous agreement. But we don’t get to, which is what makes it so special.

For two glorious weeks every year, the Festival takes the best bits of Galway — the creativity, the innovation, the spirit — and amplifies them. It interweaves itself into the very physicality of the city, from its mediaeval streets to Eyre Square to the Claddagh to NUIG, and all the creative spaces in between. Whatever isn’t already there it builds, whether that be a public art gallery or an outdoor bar.

For me, coming out of a post-pandemic funk, the full restoration of live events was a gift. I laughed at Steppenwolf’s masterful True West at the Town Hall Theatre and sang myself hoarse at The Pixies. I danced at Jon Hopkins and the Flaming Lips, and yelled along to The Frames.

My only regrets are the things I didn’t get to but alas, with so much to enjoy, there is never enough time. The good news is that while the Big Top has to come down, it will be back. Like the All-Ireland final, thankfully when it comes to GIAF, there’s always next year.

Sun setting on the Heineken Big Top 2022 by Emilija Jefremova
Sun setting on the Heineken Big Top by Emilija Jefremova

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