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Aistriú a Galway 2020 Commission.


When Europe is faced with unprecedented migration, twentieth-century Irish language texts provide a vocabulary to respond to contemporary challenges. The Aistriú project sheds new light on some of our best-known Irish language writers and engages new readers around the globe through original translations and creative responses. The project presents our rich Irish language poetry and prose as part of the tapestry of contemporary multilingual world literatures today.

Aistriú translations

In partnership with EFACIS (the European Federation of Associations and Centres of Irish Studies), we invited translators across Europe and the globe to choose and translate one or more of the Aistriú texts. These translations are presented together on the Aistriú website ( along with notes on the authors, texts and translators. We have been overwhelmed with the response. You can find over 80 translations in 17 different languages from Chinese to Croatian and from Farsi to French, and including the most widely spoken languages among Galway’s migrant communities


Aistriú creative responses

We launched a public call for artists to engage with the Aistriú texts, and Galway 2020 commissioned three separate artworks in performance, choir and sculpture. These original pieces have evolved with time and in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Each one offers an intriguing insight into the Aistriú texts and their themes of migration, displacement and assimilation.

Aistriú Commission:
Ar Ais Arís

A moment of departure. A moment of return. A moment of reckoning.

Ar Ais Arís is a new piece by Brú Theatre, commissioned as part of the Aistriú project. Irish language literature and visual poetry are combined in virtual reality to make this work, inspired by texts from Máirtín Ó Cadhain, Pádraic Ó Conaire and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill around the theme of migration.

Brú’s team of performers, creators, designers and composers have come together to create three unique 180° films, immersing audiences in a fusion of movement, text, music and Connemara landscape through the use of VR headsets. Lose yourself in this evocative, contemporary take on some of the finest writing in the Irish language.

Director: James Riordan

Producer: Jill Murray

Dramaturg: Máiréad Ní Chróinín

Performers: Victoria Mc Cormack, Stephanie Dufresne, Anna Mullarkey

Music Composer: Anna Mullarkey

Production Assistant: Kate McBrearty

Musicians: Ciara O’Connor, Anna Mullarkey

Sound Designer: Jenny O’Malley

VR Cinematographer: Paul Kinsella

Costume Designer: Clíodhna Hallissey

Make-Up / Hair Designer: Michelle Ruane

Voice-Over, langage consultant: Caitlín Ní Chualáin

Áistriú Creative Associate: Marianne Kennedy

Aistriú Commission:
Leide Beag

Leide Beag is a collaborative film-performance comprising voice, movement and image. Inspired by the celebrated Irish language texts of the Aistriú collection, this newly-devised work explores modern migration through a rich weave of folksongs and newly composed music, movement and gesture, alongside a collaborative process with singers from Galway’s new communities in partnership with the Croí na Gaillimhe migrant support centre.

The interdisciplinary team behind the work includes composer Ian Wilson, artist-facilitator Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi, filmmaker Laura Sheeran, choreographer Siobhán Ní Dhuinnín, director Robbie Blake, creative producer Síobhra Quinlan, conductor Sinead Hayes, Aistriú Creative Associate Marianne Ní Chinnéide, singers of Tonnta and singers from Galway’s new communities in partnership with the Croí na Gaillimhe migrant support centre.








Tonnta Vocal Ensemble

Aistriú Commission:

Nicola Anthony is a British artist who works between her two artist studios in Dublin and Singapore. She has become known around the world for her metal text sculptures and burned paper drawings, which give glimpses into the effects of displacement, migration, and intergenerational trauma. She focuses her research on untold narratives, collective memory, and life stories.

Following engagement with the Aistriú texts, Nicola has created a mixed media installation entitled ‘Murmuration’ based on the poem ‘Fáilte Uí Dhonnchú’ by Louis De Paor.

The motif of birds in flight is an allegory for the many people across the world who have had to migrate from their homes and settle in a new village, city, land or community. The sculpture speaks of the invisible, intangible, and physical connections that we humans thrive on. It was born from a year of research working with isolated communities across Ireland, to understand the experience and impact of loneliness on the human spirit.

In a flock or ‘murmuration’ of starlings, each bird’s coordination is caused by thousands of individual movements and instinctive actions. This phenomenon is called emergent behaviour, where they appear choreographed but are in fact all acting independently. There are parallels with how humans behave in a crowd or as part of a society.

The starlings are made of words from de Paor’s poem, which portrays crowds of people walking past an unseen, homeless, Romanian woman in the streets of Galway – surrounded by people yet still incredibly alone.


Aistriú Publication:
Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill in Translation

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill is one of the most important living writers in the Irish language. Her mermaid series poems were the most frequently chosen texts for translation in the Aistriú project.

A new publication by The Gallery Press will engage new readers with her poetry by presenting the original Irish language poems and their English language translations by Paul Muldoon alongside translations in 11 different languages provided by Aistriú translators across Europe and the globe.

Each of the translators will offer a reflection on the significance of Ní Dhomhnaill’s writing to them, highlighting the contemporary appeal of her writing and the universality of her themes.

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