Architects take it to the edge in Galway

A festival in the west this weekend is a chance to see inside new buildings

First there was Food on the Edge, the Galway think tank and festival established by Aniar chef JP McMahon; now let’s hear it for Architecture on the Edge, a new festival taking place in the west this weekend.

The event, which opened last night, aims to explore the many ways that architectural design affects our lives, with expert-led guided tours, talks, workshops and exhibitions throughout Galway and into Mayo.

"Visualising a future for Galway" was the theme of its opening half-day symposium on Friday (Sep 29th), involving contributions from the Royal Institute of the Architects in Ireland president Carole Pollard and former Irish Times environment editor Frank McDonald.

The inaugural programme continues with architecturally-guided adventures throughout this weekend (Sat and Sun, Sept 30th and Oct 1st).


Today’s (Sat 30th) Lough Corrib tour includes a visit to Ashford Castle in Cong, Co Mayo, and there are shorter walking visits to Galway courthouse, the riverside and NUI Galway (NUIG) among others.

Leagaun House in Moycullen, Kylemore Abbey, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology’s Letterfrack campus and the Marconi station at Derrygimlagh are on the itinerary for Sunday’s outing.

More than 25 public and private buildings are open to the public, and architects who designed the buildings will be present. These include St Clerans in Craughwell, once home of film director John Huston, Ionad Cultúrtha an Phiarsaigh, the newly built Pearse Centre at Rosmuc, and Killeenaran House, Kilcolgan, which was designed by architect Richard Murphy OBE.

Galway City Museum will host an edible architecture competition on Sunday (Oct 1st). No pre-registration is required for the competition which takes place from noon. There are three categories – adult, student and children.

“Simply create your own building” which should be “savoury or sweet, no greater than 60cm x 60cm in area with no limit on height”, festival director Frank Monahan says.

Mr Monaghan explains that “Architecture at the Edge” emerged from the previous “Open House” architectural festivals which took place nationally – including Galway from 2009. A not-for-profit organisation was established in 2017 to promote an appreciation and awareness of the architecture of the west of Ireland.

Symposium curator Sybil Curley , hosting the “placemaking” event, explains that there is “a growing trend” worldwide towards “the belief that personal well-being is directly connected to the quality of the environment we inhabit”.

“ By drawing on insights from our speakers, we hope to highlight the importance of putting people and local communities at the centre of the placemaking process,” she has said.

Exhibitions include an “irreverent” take of some of Galway’s most overlooked modern architecture, including Leisureland, Merlin Park hospital and the ESB Networks on Sean Mulvoy Road, by recent GMIT art graduate Melanie McDonagh at Murray’s coffee shop in Nile Lodge, Lower Salthill.

Most events are free but space is limited, so check the website