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The Best Of Bealtaine

It’s 30th May and the Bealtaine festival is almost over for another eleven months. The Bealtaine festival is organised by Age and Opportunity every year and aims to celebrate creativity as we age.  Part of you might be wondering why can’t we be creative for twelve months of the year and of course, we can. However, by making it a focus for a month, we tend to celebrate it more, pay it more attention and maybe even revisit those new year resolutions when we planned to take up a new hobby or an old, forgotten craft again.

The emphasis this year seemed to be on storytelling, on remembering old stories, retelling them, enjoying the taste of sweets from long ago – it really sounds like a great trip down memory lane where everyone is welcome to share their own stories and experiences. As always, there’s an emphasis on education too with many programmes for improving one’s use of technology, getting to grips with blogging or facebook, or reading a book on a kindle for a change to the printed books.

Bealtaine 2014 programme cover (1)


With the popularity of the Vanishing Ireland series of books, much more importance is being put on recording people’s experiences as well as tracing family roots and there have been programmes dedicated to this too. Children love to hear stories from long ago, hear how children 50 and 60 years ago went to school, how boys wore short trousers, that the whole family would have a week off school to pick the potatoes or the foraging for blackberries and bilberries to sell at the market. Even the simplest stories of tricks played amongst the siblings in large families bring hilarity and delight.  It’s not just the Americans who are keen to trace their Irish family roots either, the programme ‘Who  Do You Think You Are’ is making us all think about our ancestors. It always surprises me in some ways when the featured celebrity meets relatives and finds out information that they never heard from their parents. The Bealtaine festival had programmes to show people how to get started on their own family research.

Plays, theatre visits, storytelling, education, art classes, craft groups, reflexology, aromatherapy, sports – there really was something for everyone in the 2014 Bealtaine Festival .

Some of the Bealtaine festival organisers and their young interns have written blog posts to show us some of the work behind the scenes and what they enjoy most about it. I was amused to see one young intern (who is visiting Ireland to improve her English) comment on her surprise at the amount of tea we all drink!

What did you attend? Was there any element of it that made you decide you will continue with that class or that activity for the full year? We’d love to hear.

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