Galway 2020 has said it is keeping the weather situation “under review” for its opening ceremony this evening writes Lorna Siggins
Met Éireann has upgraded its weather warning status from yellow to orange for Galway on Saturday, with heavy rainfall and south to south-west winds reaching mean speeds of 65 to 80 km per hour, with gusts of up to 120 km per hour.
An estimated 20,000 to 40,000 people are expected to attend the open-air event in the Claddagh South Park on Saturday evening, hosted by British company Wonder Works.
Live music, pyrotechnics and seven giant glowing orbs representing county and city communities are promised during the ceremony, and a fleet of Galway hookers was due to set sail – but this may have to be curtailed due to the weather forecast.
President Michael D Higgins is due to declare the year-long European capital of culture open just after 6 pm.
Galway 2020 has said that it is “aware of the current weather advisories”.
“As public safety is our primary concern, we are keeping the situation under review,” it said in a statement on Friday evening.
“ Our intention is that the event will still go ahead, but may be subject to alteration. We will update further on Saturday morning,” it said
Met Éireann said that Galway City Council is monitoring the current forecasts with it, and has “adjusted the event programme to take account of the forecast weather conditions and to ensure public safety during the event”.
The event license for the opening ceremony extends to Sunday, but Storm Ciara will be sweeping over the country and wind conditions are expected to be more severe.
A new work by celebrated Irish language poet Louis de Paor is due to be premiéred, with the voices of Olwen Fouére, Bríd Ní Neachtain, Stephen Rea, Naisrín Elsafty and Caitlín Ní Chualáin.
Event hosts Wonder Works, veterans of the 2012 and 2016 Olympic games in London and Rio de Janeiro, have billed it as a “large scale dramatic explosion of sound and vision”.