For decades, the Macnas Halloween Parade has animated the streets of Galway in a night of living spectacle. Magnificent puppets, hundreds of dancers, dynamic structures, all drifting through the streets in a grandiose performance creating a tangible sense of mirthful fantasy. The night engulfs Galway; the streets pulsate with a sense of ferocious wonder, building suspended awe across the city.
On October 29th from 5.30pm, the theatre company is bringing the parade back after a four-year hiatus, promising to reignite the spark of storytelling and tradition across the Galway City streets.
Pictured above: James Riordan, 2023 Macnas Director
We spoke with James Riordan, the 2023 Macnas Director about this year’s parade, and the feelings of anticipation as we prepare to gather in Galway’s streets once again. James is taking up the role of Director full of vision and excitement. He’s currently the Artistic Director of Brú Theatre, based in Galway, and is bringing his thoughtful experience and love of theatre to this year’s parade.
“A lot of Galway audiences feel a real connection to [Macnas], it’s a real part of the cultural makeup of our city,” says James. “There is kind of a larger than life energy to the work that I think Galway audiences respond to.” Since their start in 1986, Macnas has fervently worked to celebrate Galway’s culture and Irish tradition by expanding upon folklore in spectacular showcases of performance. Deeply bred in the bones of Galway, Macnas is the chance encounter with the mystical and concealed characteristics of our own personhood.
Photo from Macnas 2018
The title of this year’s parade is ‘Cnámha La Loba.’ Cnámha, meaning bones in Irish, and the story of La Loba being derived from Slavic and South American folklore. La Loba is an ancient ‘wolf-woman,’ who resurrects people and animals of the past by singing an antiphon of life over their collected bones. “She wanders the world collecting and preserving bones, especially those which are in danger of being lost to the world,” says James. “As the moon shines bright she sings life into these almost forgotten gods and humans. They rise from the ashes illuminating memories of who we were, before we became what we are.”
When asked why this story was chosen for this year’s parade, James said, “With what's happening at the minute in the world, I was drawn to look at more Eastern European and Slavic folklore when thinking about the story for this year’s parade, in a hope of celebrating stories from that side of the world. I also like this idea of revisiting the past - looking at tribes and Gods we’ve almost forgotten and to bring them onto the street in glorious technicolor.”
Photo from Macnas 2018
With a glint of anticipation and poignance surrounding him, James continues. “Their time may have passed but we stop and remember, and when we look back we may see ourselves reflected back today. The parade will be full of darkness and light, a feast for the eyes and a celebration of what it is to be human and to all be here together for a moment in time.”
We tell stories to reach beyond what we know, to seek solace, and to keep the embers of our cultures aglow. With reverence and true passion, Macnas brings forth a unique showcase of folklore, myth, and humanity. The spectacle that, for a brief moment, breathes life into the bones of the past, and restores the pulse of our own inner stories.
All photography courtesy of Ciarán MacChoncarraigePublished on Updated on