The Story of the Galway Spheres


Scenes of merry musicians, curling ferns and hardy ponies were animated with firelight last week as Clifden, An Spidéal, Tuam, Ballinasloe, Portumna and Athenry celebrated the beginning of Galway’s year as European Capital of Culture with intimate lighting ceremonies.

Crafted from steel, artist Jacqueline Pyle’s dynamic spheres weave word with landscape, history with nature. The artist created unique spheres for each of the six towns partaking in the week-long Fire Tour, along with a sphere dedicated to the City of Tribes itself, which has yet to be lit.

Each sphere reflects the positives, the celebrations and the affectionate memories of the towns with silhouettes of landscape and people, celebrations and fond memories and each illustrates a river that runs through the adjacent land; rivers that, through the ages, provided food, fertile land, transport, communication and trade and drinking water.

As the spheres are placed together, the rivers create a unique flow of water that unites the towns. Along the flow of water, a verse line from a selection of existing poetry describes the land, sea or town beside it.


The inscription and poems are listed below:




“…sky changes into sea and sea to memory as if at the edge of a new world”

The Clifden Road, Derek Mahon


An Spidéal


“Currach lán éisc ag teacht chun cladaigh ar órmhuir mhall i ndeireadh lae”

An tEarrach Thiar, Mairtin O Direain




“The hedges bristle with cobwebs and dew, bramble swings out from a collapsed wall.”

Quiet Farm, Gerald Dawe




“The river held our stories, it was where we’d go to talk or cry or be quiet in the company of the current.”

The Suck, Jane Clarke




“Other times I dream the drone of the sea pulling me into the cobalt of childhood.”

Homeless, Noelle Lynskey




“Boughs singing, the whole south moving up to stand in a dripping arch of spring.”

Yeats at Athenry Perhaps, Padraic Fallon

Photo Credits: Emilija Jefremova, Andrew Downes and Declan Colohan

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