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Bealtaine at Home 2021

Bealtaine at Home 2021  Celebrating creativity as we age

Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre celebrates this year’s national Bealtaine Festival with events showcasing many of the art programmes and projects with older people that take place at the Centre and throughout the region each year.

The Bealtaine Festival takes place each May throughout Ireland and involves thousands of participants in every art form. The ancient festival of Bealtaine or Beltane (held on May 1), marked the midway point between the spring equinox and the summer solstice, and heralded the start of summer. The word Bealtaine is still used in the Irish language and translates as the month of May. Although live and in-person events are not possible this May, Bealtaine At Home 2021 offers a wide selection of online activities and engagements celebrating creativity and participation.

A call out has gone out for photography entries to be submitted between 1 and 14 May to Uillinn Public Engagement Artist, Kate McElroy at on the theme of Light and Shadow. The co-existence of light and shadow exist all around us, both in sharp contrasts and subtle interplays. This is an invitation to seek out the contrasts of light and darkness in everyday surroundings, photograph, and submit for an online exhibition taking place at from 22 – 31 May.

Tuesday 11 May sees the mailout of over two hundred booklets documenting the correspondence from the Arts for Health project Bringing Art Home. This innovative project uses the postal service to connect six artists – Anne Harrington Rees, Michael Greenlaw, Bénédicte Coleman, Fiona Kelleher, Sharon Dipity, and Justin Grounds – with over two hundred Day Care Centre participants isolating at home. Each artist shared their creative expertise in music, poetry and visual arts through monthly mail outs from Uillinn. Each parcel contained artworks, poetry, art materials and an invitation to respond, along with a carefully considered letter from the artist to the people taking part.

Composer and musician Justin Grounds, whose work is currently on exhibition at, took to the phone as well as letter writing for his part in Bringing Art Home. Where Everything is Music is a series of favourite poems with musical accompaniment recorded over the phone.

On International Nurses Day, Wednesday 12 May, we will release a new song, We’ll be Back. This moving tribute, with lyrics written by the Day Care Centre healthcare staff from across West Cork and melody written and performed by musicians Liz Clark and Staff Nurse Paula O’Brien, sends a message of hope to all older people staying safe at home. The Day Care staff, who had been re-deployed to testing and vaccine Centres, share their thoughts and experiences of working on the frontline of the pandemic, and also of not seeing or being with their now, isolating, Daycare participants. Tune into John Green on C103 FM for the song release or go to

For our friends and colleagues in the Community Hospitals, we are planning a special live gig from DeBarra’s in Clonakilty which will be streamed on Friday 14 May to simultaneously connect with all the residents and staff across West Cork. On 21 May we host a live screening of the short film ‘I’m on My Way’, made with staff and residents at St. Joseph’s Unit, Bantry General Hospital and film maker Aoise Tutty. Aoise has been working remotely with Clonakilty-based composer Justin Grounds, to gather footage of the natural environment and spring life as it blooms, to connect people isolating in the residential unit to the outdoors and special places that they recall.

Finally, in association with the national Bealtaine organisers Age & Opportunity, and as part of their Roots and Shoots: Bealtaine at Home Visual Arts Programme, we bring you the Little Light Pocket Theatre on Friday 21 May. Artists Sharon Dipity and Sarah Ruttle invite participants to engage in a convivial online workshop through conversation, making and storytelling, and create a miniature pop-up theatre to illustrate their dreams for a sustainable future.

To conclude the month, Sharon Dipity and Sarah Ruttle will join Justine Foster, Programme Manager at Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre in an online conversation, to reflect on the development and delivery of Little Light Pocket Theatre in the Community Hospitals. Look out for this on social media platform, released 31 May at 1pm.




About Bealtaine Festival

Bealtaine is coordinated by Age & Opportunity, the national organisation working to promote greater participation by older people in society. Established in 1995, Bealtaine is Ireland’s largest co-operative festival and the world’s first national celebration of creativity in older age, having inspired a number of international festivals such as Luminate in Scotland, Gwanwyn in Wales and others. The festival brings together people from all over Ireland to foster and inspire creativity among older people and to promote the skills, experiences and exposure that can lead to a rich creative life for all older people. Bealtaine is increasingly recognised as a major innovator in the area of the arts, creativity and older people globally and as a result is also about supporting the arts community to continue to work and to inspire and train other artists to engage in the area of creative ageing and intergenerational work.

Check out @BealtaineFest website for all events: #BealtaineAtHome


Image : Kate McElroy 2021