A Galway 2020 Showcase


An Unforgettable Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture Showcase at the Milwaukee Irish Fest.

Hosted in conjunction with Galway City and County Councils and Spirit of Galway, Galway 2020’s recent Showcase at the Milwaukee Irish Fest was a huge success. The weekend drew a crowd of  over 100,000 people to celebrate their Irish heritage. The showcase received generous support from Tourism Ireland and Culture Ireland, as well as the tireless Milwaukee Irish Fest committee. Galway FM’s Keith Finnegan, leader of the Spirit of Galway delegation, called it “one of the most memorable years in Galway’s 24 years of participation.” The crowd got an opportunity to find out about Galway’s upcoming year as European Capital of Culture and get a flavour of what will be happening during the year.

Over the course of the three-day event, festival goers flocked to see a drove of talented home-grown acts including The Kane Sisters, The Whileaways, Leo Moran & Padraig Stevens and BackWest. After eight years of performing for Milwaukee fans, Galway 2020 cultural ambassadors We Banjo 3 headlined this year’s festival, lighting up the stage with their trademark fusion of blue grass and traditional Irish music. Irish fans need not save the pennies for a trip across the Atlantic to see the guys as the group will perform this Saturday September 7 in Galway’s own Leisureland.

A delegation of 28 made their way to Wisconsin for the Showcase, including: Galway City Mayor Mike Cubbard, County Cathaoirleach Jimmy McClearn, Keith Finnegan, Bishop Brendan Kelly, Galway 2020 CEO Patricia Philbin,  other Galway 2020 team members, City and County Councillors, and Members of the City and County Executive. The delegation was joined on Friday by Minister Ciarán Cannon, Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with special responsibility for the Diaspora and International Development. The exciting weekend kicked off with a formal opening reception, where CEO Patricia Philbin and Minister Cannon shared their support and hopes for Galway’s growing relationships with the IMF committee and wider Milwaukee community.

Milwaukee Irish Fest attendees experienced a multi-sensory introduction to Galway life, with exhibitions and performances, historical talks and cuisine – all from the cultural heart of Ireland. Irish painter Joan Finnegan’s colourful artworks offered an elegant window into the unique Galway landscape, while a 3D model of the famous Galway Hooker in the Meehan Boat house paid homage to the county’s historic traditions. From the Royal Irish Academy, Archaeologist Paul Walsh and Jennifer Moore gave an informative introduction to the Irish Historic Towns Atlas series on display in the Galway pavilion. Acclaimed author and cartographer Tim Robinson and NUI Galway were also generous enough to contribute hand-drawn maps of Connemara from the university collection. As Galway approaches a year of cultural vibrancy, it seemed a fitting time to look back at the prosperity of the county’s 7th century “Renaissance” period. Archaeologist and Galway-native Paul Walsh gave an inspiring talk on the subject at the festival Hedge School.

This year’s Showcase was a strong example of what is possible when cultural decision-makers get together to elevate local creativity on a (literal) international stage. After 20 years of partnership as a “sister city” of Milwaukee, it was an honour to celebrate Galway’s future with those who have worked to amplify the voice of this county throughout the years.

Learn more about the Milwaukee Irish Festival on its website.

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