King September 23, 2019

The mountains of Connemara National Park will be turned green by light artist Kari Kola on St Patrick’s Day 2020.

 The mountains of Connemara National Park will be turned green by light artist Kari Kola on St Patrick’s Day 2020. Photograph: Alamy

Homer’s Odyssey is to be read aloud on the wind-battered beaches of Ireland’s west coast to celebrate claims that some of the mythical journey took place there, as part of Galway’s stint as European capital of culture in 2020.

A blizzard of arts events was announced on Wednesday, including the light artist Kari Kola turning the mountains of Connemara green on St Patrick’s Day; a visit by Margaret Atwood on international women’s day; and a multi-art celebration of the writer JM Synge.

There will also be Odyssey, which will feature a large tent being pitched on Galway’s beaches and chapters of Homer’s epic poem read out as the Atlantic laps towards the feet of the audience.

Seán Doran, of the project producer Arts Over Borders, said the Homeric connection between the Mediterranean and Ireland was not totally outlandish. A year ago he was contacted by a Greek academic who claimed the landscapes of the stories in the Odyssey did stretch beyond the Mediterranean. Galway’s coast and the Aran islands fitted in with the tale about Odysseus and the Cyclops, he had insisted.

“All this can be challenged, as can everything in Homer, so we are just using this as a springboard,” said Doran. “But it is totally fascinating and not wholly a surprise. We’ve all heard about Basque country and Egyptian music links with Irish music.”

The Aran islands fit in with the story about Odysseus and the Cyclops, say organisers.
 The Aran islands fit in with the story about Odysseus and the Cyclops, say organisers. Photograph: Tjeerd Kruse/Alamy Stock Photo/Alamy Stock Photo

The Galway programme was announced by Helen Marriage, who was brought on board as the creative director in January to help steady what had been a troubled project, one wracked by resignations, rows over funding and questions over its vision. Its current budget is €39.7m.

Marriage said the year of culture would have three themes of language, landscape and migration, with the aim of reflecting “what it means to be a modern European country in these difficult times”.

She added: “Galway is the most extraordinary place and next year it’s at the heart of Europe. But you have a sense when you are there that it is right on the edge of Europe, looking out on the Atlantic, America next stop. It’s wild, it’s really exciting, I keep thinking it is like Barcelona with rain because it rains 240 days a year.”

The company behind the most recent Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, Wonder Works, will coordinate Galway’s opening on 8 February. “It will be howling, it will be wet, the Atlantic will be horizontal but it will be brilliant fun,” said Marriage.

The year will also see a new interpretation of Gilgamesh; a tour by Druid Theatre of Ireland’s greatest one act plays; and a collaboration with Boston, Nashville and Belfast which will celebrate the transatlantic roots of country, blues, gospel, folk and bluegrass.

Galway will be one of two European capitals of culture next year, sharing the title with Rijeka, in Croatia.

[“source=theguardian”]