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Bealtaine is Back

Celebrating the arts and Creativity as we Age

There is so much going on this month at Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre in celebration of the national Bealtaine Festival, it’s hard to know where to begin, with an array of free events at the Centre, in care settings, online, and around the parks of West Cork. Bealtaine Festival takes place each May throughout Ireland and involves thousands of participants, community groups and organisations, coordinated by Age and Opportunity.

Throughout May a new group is being formed called, Salt and Pepper for older people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Trans or a sprinkle of all those terms and shake of others. Artist Toma McCullim who will lead the project explains, ’Salt and Pepper because we are at the time of life when our hair is starting to speckle but we are also the essential spice of life! We will be meeting up on park benches around West Cork for chats and reminiscing talking all things queer and quare, having guffaws and giggles and discussing our ideas to make and create. Each park date will have a host from the locality, and we will be travelling to Ballydehob, Dunmanway, Bantry, of course dear old Skibbereen.’

Artist Tess Leak and Sharon Whooley will be touring the Community Hospitals with their project Museum of Birds and Beasts where they will collaborate with the National Folklore Collection in Dublin, the Museum of Country Life in Mayo to bring a selection of artifacts to inspire ideas and conversation. Adding to the project, celebrated basket maker Joe Hogan from Mayo will pay a visit to the participating hospitals to share his skills and draw on the residents own rich experiences of life working and living in connection with the natural world.

Arts for Health Artist Sarah Ruttle has organised two unique exhibitions ‘The Lark sings with unpremeditated art’ at Schull Community Hospital, and ‘Music can speak any language’ at St. Josephs ward Bantry General Hospital featuring work by residents. Bénédicte Coleman, artist on the Arts for Health programme is set to hang a new selection of work by residents in the new wing at Castletownbere Community Hospital.

Back at Uillinn on Thursday 5 May is the opening of an exhibition in the Stairwell Gallery of work created on the Arts for Health Programme over the last two years, both here at the Centre and at home, though projects such as ‘Bringing Art Home’ & ‘Little Light Pocket Theatre’ – Projects that reached out to older people staying safe at home or residential care though the postal service. The exhibition also features new work by Arts for an Active Mind with ceramic artist Ayelat Lalor. Arts for an Active Mind is a weekly session facilitated by Paul Cialis that takes place at Uillinn on Monday mornings since 2002. Over two sessions the group explored food and the memories associated to create this evocative and playful series of ceramic works on plates. (Exhibition is open until 5 June 2022 go to for opening hours)

As part of Age & Opportunities, Roots and Shoots programme Bealtaine Artist in Residence Sarah Iremonger will facilitate a drawing workshop called, ‘Build Your Own Horizon on 14 May at 12noon – 2pm where participants will each create a drawing to ​become a part of a collaborative site-specific installation. Roots and Shoots is an exciting nationwide programme of visual arts events taking place as part of Bealtaine Festival and in partnership with Ireland’s leading visual arts organisations.

For our friends and colleagues in long-term residential care, we are planning a music event featuring Liz Clark with special guest Lisa Hannigan. The live gig will take place at Schull Community Hospital and be streamed on 11 May to simultaneously connect with all residents and staff across West Cork.

International Nurses Day, on Wednesday 12 May, will see the release of a new song produced by Liz Clark and Sarah Ruttle, ‘Buíochas Mόr’ for all healthcare staff, especially the Day Care Staff, ‘it marks a celebration of getting back through the doors, with our older communities sharing their gratitude for the Day Care service they valued so much, amplified now having been kept away so long from their friends and the staff who are at the heart of the service’. Tune into John Green on C103 FM to hear it released or go to artsforhealth/soundcloud

On 16 May we host a live screening of a musical composition, ‘The River goes on Forever’ made with staff and residents at Skibbereen Community Hospital with composer Justin Grounds featuring Skibbereen Campus Choir Directed by Liz Clark. The sharing will take place at the hospital where the choir will also perform. The work will be available for all to see on our website

​Our partners at 49 Street invite everyone to join an Open Door session with Ger Wolfe & a Chairde on Friday May 20 at Skibbereen Family Resource Centre, 11am – 12.30pm

On 23 May Skibbereen Campus Choir will perform from the glorious Perrot House gardens at the Campus for the older residents and staff of Cork Kerry Community Health Services.

Finally, to conclude the month, on 31 May at 11am all are welcome to a Bealtaine Dance session at Uillinn in the galleries with dance artist Andrew Coombes from Adrenaline Dance in London, UK  who invites you to dance as you wish in the gallery space of Uillinn to an eclectic playlist from hip hop to classical via Afrika, Andrew says ‘do less and enjoy more. A 50 + dance is a session for the non dancer and every moving able body, there is no right way or steps to follow but an opportunity to surprise your body in the gallery surrounds.’


This programme is made possible with support from Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, Cork Education & Training Board, Cork County Council and the Arts Council.