Galway’s First Imagining Ireland Concert


National Concert Hall’s Imagining Ireland will come to Galway for the first time on 10 February as part of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture.

The concert series started in 2016 with an event to mark the Easter Rising centenary, before travelling to the Royal Festival Hall and the Barbican in London. Celebrating the recent groundswell of women’s voices in Irish literature, music and poetry, Imagining Ireland: Speaking Up, Singing Louder sees the series’ first ever all-female line-up. A limited number of tickets are still available.

This year’s guest curator is Sinéad Gleeson, an acclaimed author whose novel Constellations topped the Irish bestseller list in 2019. Gleeson’s vision for the night is all about “saying the unsayable.” Her guests do just that, tackling history, sexual politics and all of the intricacies of contemporary Irish life. Among the bold voices featured are SOAK, Lisa O’Neill, Radie Peat, Sorcha Richardson, Sara Baume, Sinéad Gleeson, Elaine Feeney and Denise Chaila.

Zambian-Irish rapper, singer and poet Denise Chaila made a name for herself among Limerick’s spoken word circles, before collaborating with Limerick and Clare rap group Rusangano Family. Chaila has since taken her place on the rising wave of new Irish rap with her 2019 EP, Dual Citizenship. Her sound is (to quote the title track) a “remix of anthems and flags”, full of clever wordplay on the beauty and challenges of dual identity.


Radie Peat and Lisa O’Neill offer a different kind of candor, each with their own refreshing take on new folk. Radie Peat’s startlingly clear voice rose to prominence with Lankum, a popular Dublin trad band whose sound has been described as “acid battery sharp”. Lisa O’Neill brings the raw emotion, her sound as unvarnished as the title of her debut album (Has an Album) suggests.

Derry artist SOAK fuses pop and folk in dreamy compositions, introspective beyond the artist’s years. Her first album, Before We Forget How to Dream was a nominee for the 2015 Mercury Prize (alongside Florence + the Machine) and winner of the Choice prize in 2016. Sorcha Richardson is another emerging singer-songwriter, hailing from Dublin. Tunes like “Don’t Talk About It” – at once catchy, humorous and heartfelt – have garnered her international headline shows and praise from the Guardian, i-D and The Fader.

Sinéad Gleeson will be joined by fellow provocative voices in Irish literature on the night, including authors Sara Baume (A Line Made by Walking), Caelainn Hogan (Republic of Shame), Sarah Moss (Ghost Wall) and Elaine Feeney (As You Were). Baume’s powerful prose has an immersive quality, borrowing from her background as a trained sculptor. Feeney’s work is similarly vivid with a political potency that can’t be ignored.

It’s not often you see such a diverse range of talent in one room – with the addition of a musical ensemble featuring Linda Buckley (electronics), Eliza McCarthy (piano) and Emma King (percussion), brought together by cellist Kate Ellis. Come along and get inspired by women who give power, allure and integrity to the unseen and unsayable.

Imagining Ireland

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