City of Tribes: capturing the multicultural busking scene in Galway

City of Tribes Short Doc Banner
City of Tribes Short Doc Banner



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  • City of Tribes
  • Dina Sragalj
  • Docs Ireland
  • galway city of film
  • Short Documentary Bursary


“We’ve been all around Europe, but when you get to Galway, it feels like the ultimate busking town. Among buskers, everybody says go to Galway.” – Javi and Teresa, Spain 

Dina Sragalj, one of last year’s Ardán/ Galway City of Film Short Documentary Bursary participants – under the mentorship of Donal Haughey – chats to us ahead of her short documentary City of Tribes being screened in the short documentaries programme later this month as part of Docs Ireland. 

Why did Dina want to make a documentary about buskers in Galway? City of Tribes – was inspired by Dina’s memories from her first visit to the city and observing the busker scene. “You can just spend your day on Shop Street having a pint and listening to them,” she explained. Dina learned to play piano at a young age back home in Croatia. With that and the influence of listening to her own family’s taste in music, the documentary’s musical ties are personal to her sensibilities. 

“It’s a modern melting pot that has brought a new tribe to Galway, a tribe of outsiders and blow-ins and Galwegians together” – John Byrne, Galway Tour Guide 

Dina moved to Galway from her native Croatia a few years back and graduated from the film and documentary programme at ATU last year. Having started off with a bigger interest in fiction, over time she found the documentary class appealed to her more. Her final year college piece, His Name is Scott, was chosen to be screened in the shorts programme at Galway Film Fleadh and was well received.  

Dina was researching the tribes of Galway in parallel, and she was drawn to the history of Galway as a city of tribes. The label – which at one time was considered to be derogatory – was reclaimed by Galwegians who took the moniker and decided to own it. In the documentary, Dina explores the concept of the street buskers as a contemporary experimental tribe, carving out their own space. 

“Gal’ from Galway comes from the Old Irish meaning outsider, or foreigner. One-fifth of Galway city’s population was born outside of Ireland, and still to this day, Galway is the city of the outsider, the city of the tribes.” – John Byrne, Galway Tour Guide 

Together with mentor Donal Haughey, the decision was made to invest the funding into assembling a crew so Dina’s focus could be primarily on directing. She hired people like herself who had their own equipment but were also just starting out and looking for experience.  

Dina brought in John Byrne from Lally Tours who helped to create a script based on his knowledge of the history of Galway. Dina then approached different Irish and international buskers she met on the street to see who could take part. Filming outside was weather dependent, of course, so rather than setting up a fixed schedule the team decided on three days and within that time they got their windows to shoot. 

“Other cities and towns around Ireland have good buskers, but Galway has nestled some of the greatest buskers ever.” – Bam Artiste, Jamaica 

What were the big learnings? The big learnings were in figuring out how to make a decision on the spot when it came to the shots, the flow of the interviewing process, and the creative problems that arise in this type of documentary filmmaking. Also, in how to effectively communicate with the crew so you all work as one. In His Name is Scott Dina was doing all the work, so this was an exciting new challenge. 

Dina is very interested in continuing working as a documentary filmmaker, so this process was a great learning curve. She wants to get as much experience as she can and is currently working as a trainee assistant editor. She’ll also keep pursuing opportunities that will help her make her own films as well. 

‘City of Tribes’ screens as part of Doc Ireland’s ‘Selection Shorts Programme 2’, on Sunday, June 23rd. 

Applications Open – Short Documentary Bursary 2024  | Ardán (


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