Irish Vacation

So I am back from my Ireland trip. I really had a wonderful time. The natural beauty was stupendous. The food was great. It rained more than I would have liked, but sunbeams through the clouds made for some dramatic pictures.

As promised, I visited a number of theatres and arts centers while in Ireland. Because of our travel schedule, I didn’t get to go to everywhere I had originally planned. Though I did go to a number of places I hadn’t.

Something I noticed was that many theatres were in buildings that placed them as a center of activity for the community. The Carnegie Arts Centre in Kenmare is in a building with a library and art gallery.

kenmare ext

Likewise, The Source Arts Centre is also attached to a library.

source sign

The Tipperary Excel has 3 movie theatres, one of which is also the live performance space, a gallery and a desk to do heritage research.

excel desk

You walk into any of these buildings and there is a bustle of activity all around you which I would guess helps raise the level of awareness about the events in the theatre. Looking around, these were certainly organizations that were serving their communities.  I had to wonder why performance facilities in the U.S. were so often divorced from other community resources. Granted, none of these facilities were very large. You could never dream of presenting some of the shows you can in the U.S. The buildings would have had to be a bit bigger to fit a larger theatre plus these services.  I didn’t get a chance to speak with anyone about the ratio of earned vs. unearned revenue in the theatre budgets so I don’t know how self-supporting the theatres and the other services under the same respective roofs are.

At least one place was realistic about the needs and interests of the community they served.

source sorry

This sign at The Source box office announces the cancellation of an event due to the regional hurling finals occurring in town the same day.

I arrived in Galway just as the Galway Arts Festival was getting underway. In fact, the festival proper hadn’t begun. They were still erecting the big top tent.

tent up

I did get a chance to swing by the Galway Arts Centre to see some of the video exhibitions and walked by the Druid Theatre, which wasn’t open at the time. I went looking for Nuns Island Theatre, which is a program of the Galway Arts Centre, but apparently walked right by it. Sorry I didn’t get a picture in here.  I did get to see a performance by a New Orleans Brass Band taking part in the Galway Arts Festival. They made a bit of a faux pas referring to Ireland as part of the UK which elicited some grumbling in the audience.

galway artsdruid

Galway is a very walkable city, especially in terms of being able to access many of the arts venues. I would recommend taking advantage of that fact if ever you find yourself in Galway.

As a little aside. As I mentioned, the food was really great in Ireland. While I did see quite a number of American food products on the supermarket shelves and advertised all around, I was somewhat pleased that I didn’t see too many McDonalds making in roads in Ireland. One that I peaked into in Galway seemed to reflect the need for greater effort to attract the Irish consumer. It was a lot nicer than the ones we have around here.

mc donaldsmcdonald2

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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