Vintage Galway live music scene honoured in music poster exhibition at Galway City Museum

A brand new exhibition, ‘This is the Modern World’ has just opened at Galway City Museum, featuring a wide selection of live music posters promoting gigs in Galway during the period 1977 – 1982.

Visitors are invited to join in the nostalgia by sharing their own Galway music scene memories in the Visitor Comments Book. The exhibition will run until September 23 and admission is free.

The exhibition title comes from The Jam album of the same name and reflects the societal and musical changes happening in Ireland at the time. Lyrics such as ‘Septic Isle, Suffer in the Screaming sea ‘by The Boomtown Rats in their 1981 hit ‘Banana Republic’ echoes the anger felt by the youth in a conservative Irish society. There was an increasingly visible feminist movement and Irish people had begun to question the political and religious establishment.

This collection of posters represents a moment in time before Irish bands such as U2 emerged on to the international music scene. Changing musical tastes sounded the decline of the Irish showband scene, as discos and bars replaced dancehalls and ballrooms. The late 1970s also witnessed the birth of Hot Press magazine and a growth in pirate radio stations.

At this time, despite its peripheral location and small size (around 40,000 in 1981 ) Galway hosted the cream of Irish and international music acts. “This selection of eye-catching posters, each one an artwork in its own right, show the breath of talent that preformed in the town between 1977 and 1982” (Eoin O’Neill, Curator of This Is The Modern World ).

Here is what Tom Prendergast of Buzz Promotions had to say about the poster era in Galway:

“When I first started promoting gigs in Galway in the late 1970s it was at The Castle in Salthill with Billy McGrath, a promoter from Dublin. We promoted among others, Roogalator (who were managed by Robin Scott of M and Pop Music fame ), Cado Belle, Jimmy Slevin, and others. Ollie Jennings was promoting bands, mostly in college before, and long after my efforts.

Later, I set up a promotions company called Buzz Promotions with Aidan Cosgrave, a Galwayman living in Dublin. Our most notable gig was The Jam in Leisureland just before they released their hit single “Down in The Tube Station At Midnight”. A month or two later and we could have sold the place out, but it wasn’t, and we didn’t!”.

The posters featured in this exhibition come from the Galway City Museum collection with a few additional posters given on loan from Charlie Byrne.

Other highlights of the museum include the following exhibitions: Borderland – Ukraine 2022; Monument; Keepers of the Gael | Caomhnóirí na nGael; Revolution in Galway, 1913-23; The Galway Hooker; The Claddagh: A Triumph of Unconscious Beauty and Sea Science.

The museum opens Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 4.45pm and Sundays, all Summer, from 12pm – 4.45pm. Admission is free. Follow Galway City Museum on social media for regular updates. For more information email , call 091 532460 or visit .


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