Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, speaking at the launch of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture

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A Dhaoine Uaisle,

Is mór an onóir dom a bheith anseo i nGaillimh chun an clár Gaillimh 2020 a sheoladh. Tá aithne ag go leor ar an bhFaiche Mhór mar gurb é croílár cultúir na cathrach é gach samhradh, áit a mbíonn taibheoirí agus seónna den chéad scoth.  Is é an ceartlár é i gcontae agus i gcathair a bhfuil cáil na cruthaitheachta orthu idir thaibhithe sráide, an scoth ó thaobh na hamharclannaíochta agus na scannánaíochta, ceoltóirí, ealaíontóirí agus scríbhneoirí agus is tráthúil mar sin gurb é seo an áit a roghnaíodh chun clár Ghaillimh 2020 Príomhchathair Chultúir na hEorpa 2020 a sheoladh.

The designation of Galway as European Capital of Culture offers an unprecedented opportunity for this city and county to have a global spotlight on its creative talents.  It is a once in a lifetime opportunity which offers not alone Galway, but Ireland the chance to shine the bright beacon of our culture across Europe and globally.

From the most western coast in Europe, Ireland will engage more intensely with our cultural partners across the EU and beyond. This cultural engagement is ever more important for our island as we face a changing political climate. Ireland truly values our place in Europe and our membership of the EU. Ireland’s strong cultural, maritime and economic connections within Europe are well established, dating back to the early Irish monastic tradition through to the early 1600s when there were already eight Irish colleges in Europe, as well as flourishing trade between Ireland and other European coastal territories. Ireland has contributed to shaping a European identity and 2020 offers a platform to celebrate our shared understanding and enjoy the diversities of our individual cultures within Europe.

The strength of Ireland’s culture and creativity is recognised as a special power we have to connect with others in a globalised world. Our culture offers us a way of expressing who we are, of connecting with others around the world.  Galway 2020 reflects this desire that we be ambitious in promoting the interests of Ireland on the world stage and raise the visibility of Ireland’s arts and culture in the global arena.

Next year Galway 2020 will present a wealth of artistic talent inspired by and nurtured in Ireland, as well as the work of artists from other cultures. This ties in with one of the key themes of the year which is migration based on the ebb and flow of creative individuals and cross influences. Galway is Ireland’s most multi-cultural city and the further building of artistic collaborations next year promises to offer audiences unique new experiences.

Galway’s striking and truly stunning landscape– urban, rural and island – will become the stage for many of the events over the year.  The landscape will be used in new and exciting ways to give audiences unique and visual experiences which I know will live long in everyone’s memories.

Galway won this title following stiff competition from other cities in Ireland. Galway holds the designation in 2020 as Ireland’s national representative and I am pleased to see that the programme will reach both city and county, including the islands as well as spreading across Ireland and adopting an all-Ireland approach.  The programme also has strong connections with Britain  and regardless of the outcome of Brexit I wish to state that Ireland remains fully committed to engaging through arts and culture with the UK as well as  our EU partners and globally.

Today the vision for Galway 2020 is being shared publicly for the first time and the programme presents us with many exciting options for the next year, dates for our calendar for events we know will be truly special and are not to be missed. A unique and important aspect of our Irish culture and heritage is our national language and I am pleased that the Irish language plays such a key role in the programme.

Galway 2020 is supported by Government through my Department as it is recognised not alone as an EU event but also one which fits within the Government’s Global Ireland initiative which aims to increase Ireland’s global profile by 2025. The programme promises to be an exciting one, including many free events, which I urge all to embrace.  It will attract visitors from around the world who will experience first-hand the many and varied aspects of Irish culture.

I congratulate the Galway 2020 team and wish them every success for the year ahead. There have been many involved in the journey to achieve today’s programme and I especially wish to acknowledge the support of Galway City Council, Galway County Council, the European Commission, the EU Expert Panel and, finally, the Board of Galway 2020 who give freely of their time. To all the artists,  companies and cultural partners who are busy in preparation stage for delivery of next year’s s events and are the heart of Galway 2020, I will defer to the words of Yeats to urge you on

“Let us go forth, the tellers of tales, and seize whatever prey the heart long for, and have no fear. Everything exists, everything is true, and the earth is only a little dust under our feet.”

I will hand you back to Arthur Lappin, Chair of the Board, to introduce the artists.

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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