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Subversive souvenir shop offers fresh view on 1916



Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, pictured at the opening of the Souvenir Shop by Rita Duffy, with Cavan Co Council Arts Officer, Rhonda Tidy, and Maeve Mulrennan, the Head of Visual Art at Galway Arts Centre. PHOTO: Andrew Downes, XPOSURE

Rise Up baking powder, tins of Peas Process, Padraig Pearse Pasta Sauce, Black and Tan Boot Polish, and a range of pastel balaclavas that double up as tea-cosies are among the items being exhibited in Galway City’s West End, as part of the official 1916 commemorations.

The Souvenir Shop is the work of Belfast artist Rita Duffy and the exhibition is being housed in Number 9 Henry Street in a former sweet shop, which still retains its thatched roof.

Drawing on the idea of the tobacconist shop owned by Proclamation signatory Thomas Clarke, The Souvenir Shop is a place of exchange and ideas. Visitors can buy surreal, openly provocative art by Duffy, made with the support of the Cavan Arts Office and the Irish Countrywomen’s Association (ICA).

The exhibition consists of a range of everyday products that are surreal and poignant, absurd and humorous.  More than 50 different exhibits are displayed and each is accompanied by an explanation which highlights the legacy of 1916, its high points and low points, its relevance and its failures.  The objects also reflect on World War I, where many Irish people lost their lives – including Rita’s grandfather – and the Northern Troubles.

By doing this, Rita connects histories that are often remembered and commemorated in a vacuum, with no connection to what was happening at the same time or what came afterwards.

The Souvenir Shop also explores how the 1916 commemorations have been commodified, and how complicated, sometimes unfinished stories are appropriated and distorted.

Her work addresses concerns about the Rising, the impact of World War I, colonisation, the Catholic Church, the Troubles, even up to the 8th Amendment, as she draws a direct line from Pearse and Connolly through the 20th and now 21st century history of Ireland.

The Souvenir Shop is Duffy’s unique take on 1916, a subversive view from this Belfast woman who comes from the Nationalist tradition

A short film by Art Ó Bríain, Siopa Cuimhneachan, accompanies the exhibition. It was commissioned by Splanc and broadcast on TG4 earlier this year.

The Souvenir Shop by Rita Duffy is one of the major projects commissioned by the Arts Council’s 2016 Centenary Programme. It has been supported by Cavan Arts Office and the Irish Countrywomen’s Association, while Number 9 Henry St, is supported by Galway City Council, Galway Arts Centre and the West End Traders’ Association.

■ The Souvenir Shop was opened last weekend by Arts Minister Heather Humpheys and will run until November 28.


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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