Teas gaoithe aduaidh nó fuacht gaoithe aneas, sin báisteach” Irish proverb
Hope it Rains | Soineann nó Doineann explores the creative and artistic potential of bad weather to effect a cultural change in our relationship with bad weather and make Galway’s people and places more weather and climate resilient. Since 2016 more than 20 artists have been commissioned to create new outdoor works that interact and engage with the weather, and offer the public positive ways to engage with Galway’s rainy and stormy climate.
Galway, in the West of Ireland, is one of the wettest and windiest places in Europe. It can rain on up to 227 days out of 365, and over 2m can fall in a year. Storms and gales come in frequently from the Atlantic, bringing near-horizontal driving rain. In mid-winter there can be as little as 1 hour sunshine in a day. The only thing you can count on about the weather is that it will change, soon. The weather affects our national character, our mood, our behaviour, our physical and our mental health.
Irish cultural attitudes have a significant negative impact on our behaviour around inclement weather. During bad weather, people spend less time outdoors, depriving them of opportunities for physical activity and recreation, social interaction, or for connecting with nature, and contributing to increasing obesity levels, as well as adversely affecting mental health. Studies have shown that Irish people, even children, view being outdoors in winter and in rain as problematic, risky and dangerous. According to a study by Early Childhood Ireland and IT Sligo 74% of Irish children aren’t allowed to play outdoors when it’s raining, and in a Heritage Council “Children and the Outdoors” study, children said that the weather was the second worst thing about living in Ireland.
You never hear an Irish person say ‘hope it rains’. But we don’t know that we are blessed. In the future, due to climate change, we may be praying and hoping for rain. We have already witnessed how climate change is affecting us in Ireland, with an increase in violent storms, floods, droughts, coastal erosion and sea-level rising. Climate change predictions are for increased rainfall, and drought. Water management – of excess and absence – is a global concern. Public recognition of climate change and its causes is high in Ireland, but the country is significantly behind in reaching its targets for mitigation. We need to engage in planning for the future, and adapting to change. We need to act fast.
Hope it Rains | Soineann nó Doineann wants people to want the weather to be bad, and to want to be outside when it’s bad. It offers the public positive ways to re-engage with the weather in Galway, and to be active participants in addressing climate change in their communities.
Galway’s weather, in all its changeability and unpredictability, is a total diva. And as with all divas, you might get overwhelmed, but you will never be bored. Storms, cloudbursts, gales can be very dramatic, exciting and an endless source of creative inspiration. And it’s not as bad as we think. It is mild in comparison with countries on the same latitude, and while it may frequently rain, it’s dry more often than wet. When we think that fundamentally weather is the exchange of energy across space, it becomes a metaphor for creativity. Just think that the Irish language has more than 30 verbs to describe the variety of ways the rain falls and the wind blows?
For Hope it Rains | Soineann nó Doineann, Ríonach commissioned artists to make art with and from the weather, not just about it. The challenge was to use meteorological conditions as materials and essential components of an artwork. Many of the works are dependent on specific atmospheric conditions to complete them. Being outside in nature is a human need, and makes us happier. Disrespecting our natural environment has led to where we are now, at risk of our own destruction. Underpinning this project is a conviction that we need acknowledge our interdependence and recalibrate our place in nature.
Ríonach Ní Néill
Curator/Producer, Hope it Rains | Soineann nó Doineann