Bealtaine Festival


Welcome to Age & Opportunity’s Bealtaine Festival –

Ireland’s national celebration of the arts and creativity as we age.

This year Laois had a packed programme of events that included the  launch of “Doorways of Stradbally” by the Stradbally Active Age Group on Saturday 6th May  by Anna May McHugh, Managing Director of the National Ploughing Association of Ireland.  Free art workshops hosted by artist Saidhbhín Gibson at the Laois Arthouse, on Tuesday 9th May and on Saturday 20th May to celebrate National Drawing Day. A wide selection of music, dance, theatre and literature was also included in the programme with a  western themed Hoe Down on Wednesday 3rdMay in the Parish Centre, Portlaoise, organised by the Portlaoise Active Age Group. A performance by Con Spirito a Portlaoise based ensemble with Siobhan Bergin Corri, Violin, Eileen Hearn, Violin, Mary White, Clarinet and Ann Pike, Flute in Abbeyleix Hospital and performances by Tandem a music duet from the showband era for residents of Abbeyleix and Mountmellick Hospitals.

On Wednesday  17th May,  at the Parish Centre, Portlaoise from 11am-12, the Sing for Joy Choir performed from their repertoire of joyful songs to welcome the summer.   There was also Bingo, music, song and dance in St Canices Hall, Borris-in-Ossory,  on Sat 20th May  and a ceili organised by Maureen Culleton in Ballyfin Community Centre on  Sunday 21st  May.  A Rambling House Session, and Line Dancing sessions  at An Sean Chistin in Ballyfin and a dance for fun event in St Canices Hall, Borris-in-Ossary. Residents, out-patients and staff  of  St Vincents Hospital, Mountmellick also enjoyed the entertainment provided by “Lonrach” a contemporary Trad Group,  under the directorship of Siobhan Buckley as they showcased their wonderful talents in music song and dance.

The Dunamaise Arts Centre had a host of wonderful events, highlights included:  performances by The Henry Girls on Saturday 4th May, and local drama group Fourth Wall Theatre Group presented Big Maggie.

Laois Libraries also provided  a rich array of events free of charge in libraries throughout the county including: Intergenerational Colouring, Colouring for Adults, Book Clubs, Adult Drawing classes , Makeup Demonstration, Knitting groups, Ciorcal Comhra, Classic Film Club, Local History Group, Adult writers group, Yoga Demonstration and Talk/Workshops.  Lifestyle events included Fitsticks walking workshops and Go for Life activity day in St Marys Sports Hall, Portlaoise organised by Laois Sports Partnership.

The 2017 Laois Bealtaine Festival came to a close on Wednesday 31st May with a wonderful  afternoon of music, song and the spoken word for the Open Mic Competition at the Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise.  The Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council gave a welcome address wishing everyone the best and thanking everyone involved in the success of the month long Bealtaine Festival in Laois.  Director of Services Donal Brennan also spoke and gave his own impromptu performance of a very poignant poem in Irish as a tribute to victims of the recent Manchester Tragedy.

The Open Mic competition included performers from around the county including Rathdowney, Mountrath, and Portlaoise, as well as a lady who travelled from Dublin to take part.  The high standard of each of the performances was remarked on by the judges and it was a very hard task to select the winners in the categories of Singing, Poetry and Prose.  The adjudicators were Frances Harney and Mary Wisely.

MC for the afternoon Seamus O’Brien introduced each competitor and did a wonderful job of putting everyone at their ease before their performance.  A lovely array of prizes kindly sponsored by O’Loughlins Hotel, Nook & Cranny, Mulhall’s Supervalu, Portlaoise, Tynans Restaurant at the Storeyard, All Books Ltd, Easons Bookstore and The Dunamaise Arts Centre were presented to the winners in each of the three categories as follows:

Poetry

  1. Arthur Broomfield, Ballyfin Co Laois
  2. John McAuliffe,  Newpark Portlaoise
  3. Christine Broe,  Rathgar Dublin 6

Prose

  1. Sheelagh Coyle, Mountmellick
  2. Joy Hewitt, Mountrath
  3. Mary Carmody, Portlaoise

Song

  1. Margaret Creagh Nelson, Rathdowney
  2. Freda Collier, Portlaoise
  3. Jim Bonham, Mountmellick

Thanks to the Manager and Staff of the Dunamaise Arts Centre and the community groups and individuals throughout the county who took part in the Laois Bealtaine Festival 2017 and made it such a success.

For more info or if you have any ideas or suggestions for inclusion in 2018 programme please contact;  T:  057 8664033 E:  artsoff@laoiscoco.ie.