The first Bealtaine festival was held in May 1996 by Age & Opportunity. It was founded by Catherine Rose and Mamo McDonald, who were the CEO and founding president of Age and Opportunity.
Age & Opportunity is supported by public funding and helps to promote the participation of older people of Ireland in society. The Bealtaine festival was set up to encourages and celebrate the older society in Ireland and their interaction and engagement with the arts. Before the inaugural Bealtaine festival a festival called the Maytime Festival ran in May 1995. It got its name from the old Bealtaine ancient festival in Ireland that was held each year on May 1st to mark between and spring equinox and summer solstice on June 21st and is known as the start of summer.
About Bealtaine festival
This festival is a national festival run all over Ireland. Each year thousands of people attend the festival and take part in dance, painting, arts and crafts, theatre and cinema. It is a festival that showcases the talents of the older generation of Ireland and their creativity in the arts whether they are first timers at the festival or have been attending the festival each year.
Age & Opportunity have a mission that they would like to empower and inspire the older people of Ireland to be active and participate in their community and their wider society. They also encourage them to live healthy and to fulfil their lives.
The Bealtaine ensures this happens every May time throughout Ireland. To celebrate creativity in every county Age & Opportunity invite local authorities, libraries, community groups, active retirement groups, art centres, care centres and associations to ensure full participation.
This year’s festival has a theme of ‘And catch the heart off guard’ from Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘Postscript’. In Galway there are various events happening throughout the county.
Examples of events around Galway are:
“We’re Strangers Here Ourselves:
Love Letters in Paint to Galway and the West” which takes place in Portershed on Eyre Square in Galway on May 4th from 6pm to 8.30pm. It is an exhibition of paintings inspired by Galway and its heritage.
Herbs and Folklore of St. Brigit
This event takes place in St Brigit’s Garden in Roscahill on May 7th throughout the day. It showcases the native herbs that Brigit loved and used as a healer and experience how to use them.
Music and song
This event for young and old takes place in Glenamaddy on May 18th from 2pm to 4pm. It is an afternoon of Irish traditional music and dance.
Yet another great event takes place in Gullanes Hotel Ballinasloe on May 19th at 8pm. It is a combined choir event. BARA Singers (from Ballinasloe Active Retirement Association) and the EGCMS Choir (East Galway & Midlands Cancer Support) will be there on the day to accompany Songfest.
Maldron Hotel Sandy Road is a 10-minute walk to the city centre, a 5-minute drive from the Bus and Train Station. There is a taxi rank outside the front of the hotel and they can be booked from Reception.
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