What we do

We run the west of Ireland’s leading Arts and Health programme as a means of improving the hospital experience for patients, staff and visitors. We believe that access to the arts promotes well-being and enhances the hospital environment. It encourages new ways of seeing and fresh dialogue – making the hospital a place of possibilities.

We work with leading artists and international arts festivals to bring high-quality arts experiences to the hospital community. Our multi-disciplinary programme of events and activities includes exhibitions, music, theatre, and poetry. We also work with our hospital colleagues to improve the physical environment through public art and integrated artworks. Our established participatory arts programme has allowed people of all ages to explore their creative potential. For patients, this can be the important reintroduction of choice and can help them to re-evaluate their abilities in the face of change. Participants find a more positive, productive use of their time in hospital, engaged in a way that distracts from worries and “makes time fly”.

For ten years, as Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust, we provided an Arts and Health programme at Galway’s public hospitals. As Saolta Arts, we are expanding to the 7 hospitals of Saolta University Health Care Group: Mayo University Hospital, Roscommon University Hospital, Portiuncula University Hospital, Sligo University Hospital and Letterkenny University Hospital. In looking to create a new logo for our rebrand, we drew inspiration from what the hospital community said about us.

Our community

Arts and Health relies on good partnerships between arts and healthcare professionals. We have worked with staff across all hospital departments to realise environmental enhancement programmes, artist residencies, and to support our participatory workshop programme. Read what about one of our collaborations told from the nursing perspective of Jacinta Reade.

Our History

Initiated by a generous long-term loan of over 100 works of Modern Irish Art by John and Patricia Hunt, Galway University Hospitals set up an Arts Committee in early 2003 to develop an arts programme for University Hospital Galway and Merlin Park University Hospital. The Arts Committee evolved into Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust, officially established as a company limited by guarantee with charitable status in 2007. With the creation of Saolta University Health Care Group in 2015 we became the dedicated arts service for the largest geographic hospital group in Ireland, providing an outreach service to our sister hospitals since 2016. Relaunching as Saolta Arts in, we shall support arts programming at 7 hospital sites in the counties of Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo, and Donegal with view to developing a fully inclusive Arts and Health service.

Our Staff

Margaret Flannery

Arts Director

Appointed to guide artistic activity when the initial Arts Committee was set up in 2003, Margaret has led the creative direction of the organisation throughout its 16-year history.

Bridget Cheasty

Arts Assistant

Bridget first began working with Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust in 2016 as part of her MA in Arts Policy and Practice with NUI, Galway and we were delighted to welcome her back as fundraiser and arts assistant in autumn 2018.

The Artist Team

We support visiting artists from diverse artforms to engage with the hospital community through special projects and residencies. Our core participatory arts programme is currently facilitated by Galway-based artists Aoife Barrett, Gosia Kamieniecka, Anne O’Byrne, and Marielle MacLeman.

Our Board

Our Board is currently made up of the following expertise:

Hazel Hendy (Chairperson) has worked at senior levels in sales, marketing and branding for 30 years, with the last 10 years in the medical device sector in dentistry. A graduate of National University of Ireland, Galway with an MBA, and an adviser to the business school, Hazel has worked with small, mid-sized and large enterprises, both private and public sector. Her experience includes working with Galway Simon Community, The Special Olympics Ireland, Chernobyl Children International (CCI), and being mentor for SCCULSs companies. She also owned and ran Bold Art Gallery in Galway for nine years, supporting the arts in the city.

Ellen McCarthy (board member and Company Secretary) has been a Clinical Nurse Manager in Critical Care at University Hospital Galway since 2001. She graduated at the Whittington Hospital in London. Her career has specialised in Critical Care Nursing and Management, having worked in London, Melbourne, Dublin and Galway. She has varied experiences in ICU specialities’ of Neurology/Trauma, Liver transplants, Cardiothoracic and General intensive care nursing with paediatric experience. Since 2009 she is an enthusiastic toastmaster, has a keen interest in poetry and creative writing, whilst also enjoying the challenge of sea swimming. Ellen was appointed to the Saolta Arts Board in April 2019.

Phyllis MacNamara is the owner of Cobwebs, an antique and fine jewellery shop which she established in Galway in 1972. Phyllis holds a degree from Trinity College in Fine Arts, English and Irish and has studied at Sotheby’s Institute in London. Phyllis has served on the Board of Directors for the Saolta University Health Care Group since 2013, as well as the Patient Council and the Patient Experience Committee.

Pat O’Brien is a hospital pharmacist currently working as Medication Safety Coordinator in Galway University Hospitals. A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, she has postgraduate qualifications in clinical pharmacy, health management, leadership and patient safety. She is a founder member of the Irish Medication Safety Network and an adjunct lecturer in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics in NUI, Galway. Pat has been a member of the Galway University Hospitals Arts Committee since 2003 and was Chairperson of that committee from 2012 to 2016. Prior to that, she was a member of the Board of the Galway Arts Centre from 1992 to 1999 and Chairperson of that board from 1994 to 1996.

Olga Magliocco is a visual artist and poet based in Galway, with a background in journalism. She ran Ur Publishing Ltd. for 8 years before studying at CCAM, GMIT. Exhibiting widely, her paintings are included in private collections in Ireland, England, Germany and Canada, and her published poetry includes two Anthologies in North America. In Lethbridge, AB, she was Board member of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Campaign Coordinator with United Way of Lethbridge & District, and the MS Society. She is also a Past President of Junior Chamber Galway, a founding member of Unit 22, Artist’s Collective, current Chair of UachtarArts Group, Oughterard, and was appointed to the Saolta Arts Board in April 2019.

Patrick Finnegan is the founder of Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust, Professor Emeritus of Medicine at NUI Galway and a retired consultant physician of University Hospital Galway.

While not on the Board of Directors, Ann Cosgrove (COO, Saolta University Health Care Group), Chris Kane (General Manager, GUH) and James C. Harrold (Galway City Arts Officer, Galway City Council) attend ex officio to offer their expertise in the areas of Health and the Arts.

Our core programme is supported by…

We are also grateful for project funding from…