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Matchbox to light up Galway Arts Festival



Actor Cathy Belton, who plays Sal in The Match Box, with the play's director Joan Sheehy.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

Cathy Belton and Joan Sheehy have that easy familiarity with each other that comes from long years of friendship and respect.

On a break from rehearsals of The Match Box, which is running at Galway International Arts Festival, the actor and director discuss the play animatedly, finishing each other’s sentences and sharing each other’s enthusiasms.

Cathy is playing Sal in Frank McGuinness’ one-woman play, which is being directed by Joan, herself an actor of considerable talent.

Frank McGuinness draws heavily on his love of Greek tragedies for this piece about Sal, the English-born adult child of Irish parents who has come to live on Valentia Island following a series of tragic and shocking events in her life.

“You start out thinking you have a handle on this story of a grieving mother,” says Cathy, one of Ireland’s leading actors, whose film work includes Philomena and most recently, A Little Chaos opposite Kate Winslet.

From Galway City, Cathy is a graduate of English and Drama Trinity College, a regular on the stage of the Abbey Theatre and has most recently appeared on television in TV3’s series Red Rock.

The Match Box is Cathy’s first time appearing in an Arts Festival play, although she always comes home for the Festival when work allows. “It’s like Christmas; it’s when most people are back,” she says over tea in the Student Union bar at NUIG, where rehearsals are taking place.

She and Joan first forged a friendship 20 years ago when they acted together in Mairead Ní Ghrada’s An Triail with Amharchlann de hÍde. More recently, Joan directed Cathy in a stage version of Kate O’Brien’s 1934 novel, The Anteroom, adapted by Mary Coll.

“When you know somebody so well, there is a shorthand and you can cover a lot of space much faster,” says Cathy of their relationship as we wait for Joan to arrive. “You aren’t worried about pussyfooting around somebody, so you can cut to the chase.”

Five minutes later, when Joan joins us, she makes the same comment independently. It’s obvious the two enjoy working together – which is a good thing, given the scale of this project and the emotional journey it involves.

Sal was a “carefree wan, who happened to have a child quite young and was supported by two great parents”, says Cathy. But then things went wrong.

“It’s about how one event can turn your life upside down and how you deal with it,” the actress explains.

“How something happens by accident and nobody apologises for it and how, if you do apologise, it can stop the resentment and poison building up,” adds Joan.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.


Folk duo launch What Will Be Will Be



Niall Teague and Pádraic Joyce.

Folk duo Niall Teague and Pádraic Joyce are launching their new album What Will We Be, a  blend of folk, Americana and acoustic music, this Friday, May 19, at 8pm in An Taibhdhearc.

The success of their well-received 2020 release Taobh le Taobh, as well as recent successes at the Pan Celtic and Oireachtas Song Contests, spurred the duo on to record this new album which represents many years of collaboration and musical development.

It features Niall and Pádraic on vocals, harmonies, and acoustic guitars, Maidhc Ó hÉanaigh on double bass and Neil Fitzgibbon on fiddle. The catchy title track, What Will We Be, features contributions from percussionist Jim Higgins (The Stunning, Christy Moore, Paul Brady) and haunting, driving melodies on vocals, guitar, and fiddle.

Themes of love and hope are woven through Come Away with Me which features interplay between piano and fiddle as well as rich vocal harmonies.

People, places, and broken dreams are celebrated and lamented on Martin and Tom, Guitar Gold, Memories of You and Achill Island. The influence of David Henry Thoreau’s novel Walden features on the tracks Simple and Wise and Walden, with the beauty of nature, escape and simple pleasures at their core.

The album moves from minimalistic folk ballads such as Galway Ghost to swirling, string-laden arrangements on the song Neptune, both of which are influenced by maritime tales from Galway. Much of the work on this album was supported by the Arts Council, including work with musical arranger Eoin Corcoran and the string ensemble Treo.

The album will be launched this Friday, May 19, at 8pm in an Taibhdhearc. Tickets €22, plus booking fee at

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All roads lead to Dunmore as town tunes up County Fleadh



Most of the competitions for young musicians will take place this Saturday in Dunmore Community School. All the competitions are open to the public.

Dunmore is the place to be this weekend for lovers of traditional music, as the Galway County Fleadh will take place there from this Friday, May 19, to Sunday, May 23.

It is 10 years since Dunmore last hosted a fleadh and the local Comhaltas branch, which has re-formed since Covid, is looking forward to facilitating this gathering of music, song, dance and craic.

The official Opening Concert will take place in Dunmore Town Hall this Friday at 8pm with the acclaimed Mulcahy family from Limerick. Mick, Louise and Michelle are well known throughout the country, thanks to their live performances, television appearances and numerous CDs. They were the winners of the TG4 Gradam Ceoil Grúpa Ceoil Award for 2023.  Tickets for their concert can be purchased on the door and a great night of music is promised.

Two days of competitions will kick off this Saturday at the town’s Community School, with more than 1,500 competitors taking part. Participants will be hoping to qualify for the Connacht Fleadh 2023, which will be held in Ballina, County Mayo, from June 23 to July 2.

Competitions for those aged Under 10, Under 12 and Under 15 will be held in a large variety of instruments on Saturday, as well as in singing and Comhrá Gaeilge. Sunday’s competitions will be for the Under 18 and Over 18 ages groups, as well as in dancing.

On both days a large entry is expected for Grúpaí Cheoil and Céilí Band competitions across all age groups.

Seventeen Comhaltas branches from across Galway will have participants in this weekend’s competitions, which will result in a large number of visitors to the Dunmore area.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the competitions, which offer a great opportunity to hear and see the talent on display. There will be sessions in local pubs over the weekend as well and everybody is welcome to attend these.

For more information on the County Fleadh, go to


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Piano concert rescheduled for Tuesday



Pianist Cédric Pescia.

Music for Galway’s concert with renowned Swiss pianist Cédric Pescia which had been due to take place on April 27 but which had to be deferred, will now take place next Tuesday, May 23, at 8pm, in the Emily Anderson Concert Hall at the University of Galway.

This concert of German classics with Bach at its core, will brings the Bach element of Music for Galway’s 41st season to an end.

This world-class pianist who won the famous Gina Bachauer International Artists Piano Competition, has a repertoire that spans many eras from baroque to contemporary and he is widely known for his elaborate programmes. Cédric Pescia describes music as  ‘language and movement at the same time’.

Audiences will have a chance to experience his soft, clear touch as he performs a programme for solo piano that will include classics such as Schumann’s popular Waldszenen (Forest Scenes), a suite of nine short pieces, and the penultimate of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, No. 31.  These pieces will be interspersed with French Suites by Bach.

■ Ticket for Cédric Pescia’s concert are available at, or by phone 091 705962 and on the door on the night. They cost €20/€18. The price for fulltime students of all ages is €6 while MfG Friends can avail of the friends’ rate of €16.

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