The Shorelines Arts Festival, now in its seventh year, runs in the third week of September in Portumna, County Galway from a Thursday to a Monday.
The town is well known throughout Ireland for its championship sports teams, but the organizers want you to know that there is far more to this town than sport teams. Although team spirit and good sportsmanship are all admirable qualities, it is the arts that reveal truths, yours and mine, and allow people to express themselves in a myriad of ways. So festivals like the Shorelines are valuable and rewarding for those who present and those who attend.
Once again the organizers outdid themselves with a program of local artists, award winning writers and poets, plays, workshops and concerts, as well as children’s workshops and street entertainment. The weather, as it has been for the last three years, was greatly in the festival’s favor. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday saw not a drop of rain, and the gods shone down on Portumna!
There is something for everyone at the festival. My biggest problem again this year, was choosing which event to attend.
The opening, held in the Irish Workhouse Center, is well worth attending. An assortment of light refreshments were served as the large crowd was serenaded by No More Mossies, who played traditional Irish music and songs to get us all in the mood for a mighty festival. And mighty it was!
The speakers at the official opening were Noelle Lynskey and Des Kenny. Lynskey, one of the festival’s organizers, encouraged the crowd to attend as many events as possible. “This is after all your festival,” she said.
Des Kenny, owner of Kenny’s Bookshop and Art Gallery in Galway, mentioned that when he was asked to speak at the official opening of the seventh Shorelines Arts Festival he realized he could do anything, except say no to a group of seven women! Kenny’s speech was inspirational. He praised the town of Portumna, the history of the town and the women who had put so much effort into creating the festival.
From art exhibitions in the Irish Workhouse Center, to a production of J. M. Synge’s Shadow of the Glen performed by the Half Day Thursday Drama Group and directed by Jim Hines at Portumna Castle, to writing workshops for poets and fiction writers by Julian Gough, from painting and millinery workshops, literary brunches, music by We Banjo Three and Eleanor McEvoy, classical music performances, piano masterclasses, recitation competitions, upcycling demonstrations, knitting workshops, a discussion of religious symbols on gravestones, there was something for everyone at the seventh Shorelines Arts Festival in Portumna, County Galway.
Portumna is a unique town. In a walk that will take no more than 20 minutes you will be transported along a time line which will reflect important events in Irish history. From the Cistercian Abbey, to the Jacobean Castle, to Christ Church (Protestant) to Saint Bridget’s Church (Catholic) and the Irish Workhouse Centre, the town is steeped in history, and now, thanks to the Shorelines Arts Festival, we know that it is also steeped in local artistic talent as well.
If the packed agenda of the 2014 festival is anything to go by, 2015 will be an outstanding festival. Thanks to the hard work of the organizers, this festival is growing every year. Well done to all involved.