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Mourning is a Muscle at Carlow Arts Festival

Artist Barry Fitzgerald performs a scene from the new show Mourning is a Muscle that will take place at The Carlow Arts Festival on June 8th.

The 45th annual Carlow Arts Festival will take place from Wednesday, June 5th, to Sunday, June 9th, featuring an eclectic array of over 80 thoughtfully curated events. Among this year’s programme highlights Carlow native and queer performer Barry Fitzgerald will present their new show "Mourning is a Muscle," on Saturday, June 8th at the festival’s new storytelling stage, The Yurt. This special preview is a unique opportunity to view this work-in-progress sharing ahead of the full show which will premiere next year.

Barry Fitzgerald splits their time between Ireland and London, and this show explores a deeply personal journey that started when the artist began to write letters to their deceased father during lockdown:

“During the 2020 lockdown, I was in London and unable to travel back home. Yet everything in me yearned to be in the Carlowcountryside and memories of my dad began to appear in my writing, he had passed away four years earlier. It was like the world stood still and the ritual of writing a letter to him became a way of processing things both about the world and our relationship”, explains Fitzgerald. 

The letters are from different time periods and form the basis for the forthcoming show, which invites audiences to think about their own relationship to mourning and grief:

“The letters are a conversation between a father and a queer child. They speak of home, the land and lineage, masculinity and the liberation that comes with living as our authentic selves, whatever that may be. Alongside the letters, I listened to music inspired by him. I danced to Neil Diamond and Annie Lennox. I hope the piece invites the audience to think about their own relationship to grief, and how we can mourn better in the big and small ways, and I’m looking forward to sharing the beginnings of this new work in Carlow, at a festival close to my heart. ”

One of the primary focuses of this year's festival is the art of storytelling. Ahead of the performance, Carlow Arts Festival artisticdirector Benjamin Perchet encouraged audiences to come and be inspired:

 "We are excited to include Mourning is a Muscle in our festival program for 2024. Storytelling is a central theme in this year's lineup, and this show will undoubtedly deeply resonate with audiences. It also serves as a tribute to Fitzgerald, one of the most compelling performers to have emerged from Carlow in recent years. I would encourage audiences to come and be inspired."

The Carlow Arts Festival will open to the public from Wednesday June 5th. Other highlights include By the Light of the Silvery Moon, a special evening of Irish stories, told through words and music by storyteller Seanchaí Aindrias de Staic. The Games We Play will be a captivating show by the legendary London-based contemporary circus company Gandini Juggling. 

Mourning is a Muscle by Barry Fitzgerald will take place on Saturday June 8th as part of the Carlow Arts Festival. For tickets see

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