Gilgamesh - Macnas by Julia Dunin Photography

Macnas presents the world’s first ever hero’s journey – an epic across city, county and online

Commissioned by Galway 2020. Produced by Artichoke. 

The Legend Of Gilgamesh saw Macnas elevate their signature style to challenge the boundaries of traditional storytelling

Inspired by the first story ever written, an epic poem recorded on clay tablets in the mid 1800s, The Legend of Gilgamesh follows a young king as he embarks upon a quest for answers to humanity’s fundamental questions about love, power, death and immortality. 

The Legend of Gilgamesh was originally conceived as a creative programme of large scale public performances in celebration of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture and despite Covid-19 restrictions, Macnas rose to the challenge to recreate the story for an audience in isolation. 

Macnas delivered a remarkable reimagined vision of the story – three short films firmly rooted in the city and landscape of Galway.

Click here to explore the story, characters and the themes of Gilgamesh in the form of a digital storybook, the Gilgamesh Experience at

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12 ft

Gilgamesh puppet height

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Short films

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2,100 BC

Date the Epic of Gilgamesh was written

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Total views across all 3 films

Legend of Gilgamesh: Ep. 1

The first in a series of short films features the voice of ENLIL (Seán McGinley) – the father of the Gods – looking down from the heavens on a city and people living under the repressive rule of Gilgamesh, a young king who wreaks havoc and chaos on all around him in his quest to live forever. We also meet UTA, the immortal one, condemned to roam the earth forever. 

Lead Creative Team

Gilgamesh, Ep. 3. Lead Creative Team
Gilgamesh, Ep. 3. Lead Creative Team, 2020. Photo by Julia Dunin.

A stellar team of local and international talent collaborated to shape-shift and translate this mythical story for a whole new audience online.

Director Noeline Kavanagh and playwright Marina Carr were joined by cinematographer Colm Hogan, Tony Award-nominated designer Julian Crouch, co-designer Orla Clogher and costume designer Cherie White and Anna Maddalena Cingi as Assistant Designer, with music and soundscapes from composer and sound designer Nick Powell and Artichoke as Executive Producer and Casting by Maureen Hughes

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Noeline Kavanagh, Artistic Director of Macnas
Noeline Kavanagh, Artistic Director of Macnas, 2020.

The amazing mind-blowing thing to me about this story, is that something written down thousands of years ago is our world now. We are living this story now.

~ Noeline Kavanagh, Macnas Artistic Director, RTÉ ~

Legend of Gilgamesh: Ep. 2

The second in a series of short films is narrated by ENLIL (Seán McGinley) – the father of the Gods – as he looks down on the majestic city of Uruk (Galway), a “city of canals and palaces, libraries and temples. Jewel of jewels.”

We meet the majestic and imposing 12ft tall GILGAMESH on his throne at The Palace of Ishtar, as ENLIL reminds us of the young king’s tyrannical ways – “You will gorge on your savage crimes… to the last rotting morsel…”.

The oldest surviving work of literature

Gilgamesh stone tablet
Fragment of a clay tablet, upper right corner, 2 columns of inscription on either side, 49 and 51 lines + 45 and 49 lines. Neo-Assyrian. Epic of Gilgamesh, tablet 11, story of the Flood. Photo by British Museum.

Written 1,500 years before Homer wrote the Illiad and the Odyssey, the Epic of Gilgamesh was discovered in the ruins of the library of Ashurbanipal in Nineveh, an ancient city located in ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day northern Iraq). Written on 12 stone tablets over 3,000 years ago, it is widely regarded as the earliest surviving work of imaginative literature.

The story centres around Gilgamesh, a young tyrannical king who rules the majestic city of Uruk. Superhuman – two thirds God, one third man, Gilgamesh is obsessed with fame. A cruel and unjust king, he wants to find the secret to immortality, become a God and live forever. The citizens of Uruk cry out to the Gods for help. The Gods listen and create Enkidu, a wild man sent to challenge and rival Gilgamesh.

A living, breathing epic like no other, the Epic of Gilgamesh has survived generations as civilisations rise and fall, and continues to maintain relevance to the present day.

Legend of Gilgamesh: Ep. 3

The third in a triptych of short films sees ISHTAR (Úna Kavanagh), Goddess of Love, War and Death, act on behalf of the Gods to create the wild young warrior ENKIDU. He is sent down from the heavens to rival the tyrant king GILGAMESH and challenge his quest to live forever.

Commissioned by

  • Galway European Capital of Culture 2020 logo

Main Sponsor for Gilgamesh and Macnas Community Partner for 2020

Savage Beauty