AN impeccably tailored feast of arts, culture, dance, literature, music and general vivaciousness is what greeted anyone who crossed Dingle's door over the bank holiday weekend as the town hosted the 18th Féile na Bealtaine Arts Festival.
From the get-go there was no let up with an onslaught of events bringing the peninsula to life as it immersed and engaged everyone, young and old.
The festival this year had an arctic theme and, with Tom Crean in mind, Féile na Bealtaine was appropriately launched in the explorer's home village of Annascaul on Thursday. What followed included an arts exhibition with Ciara O'flynn and Meitheal Eitheala and music with Deluce's Patent.
On Friday locals and a healthy quota of visitors were greeted with children's theatre, short films, a literary lunch, filíocht sa Chaifé, jazz, sceálaíocht le Diarmuid de Faoite and Colm Tobin, music with Dáithí Ó Dronaí and Inni-k in Maccarthy's and the launch of 'Drawings from a Room' by local artists Ciara Mckenna and Áine Ní Chíobháin, giving an artist's reaction to the music series Other Voices. That's to name but a few of the very many events that kept the town busy.
Saturday saw a special day of events with Lá na bpáistí children's day in the town park, a 110km cycle around the peninsula, a talk in An Diseart by Anthony Haughey on his ghost estates photographic exhibition, entitled Settlement, morning poetry in Dick Mack's pub, dance workshops in the old CBS monastery, a rocking gig in the old schoolhouse in Cuas and jazz in the Blue Zone, to just touch on events.
Sunday was another special day with the annual festival parade in Dingle seeing primary school children and a spectacular array of musical groups taking part.
"Two thousand people thronged Dingle's pavements for the 18th Feile na Bealtaine street parade, which had the theme of Tom Crean. The parade included two samba bands, two brass orchestras, the Cullen Pipe band, the Dingle Fife and Drum band, mingled with penguins, polar bears, and fictional and real creatures of the South Pole," said one of the Féile organisers, Ruth Fanning. "All costumes were designed by school children with the help of local artists."
"The parade is one of 90 events held over the weekend, ranging from Congolese guitar legend Mose Fan Fan to intricate choral incantations at Gallarus Oratory. Some of the highlights included two boats laden with singers and musicians filling the harbour with music, to moments of calm at new drama, Spoonful of Silence. "
Sunday continued with a CD launch by Mose Fan Fan from Zimbabwe in the Skellig Hoel, paddling and prose in the harbour, bronze casing in Umha Aois in An Lab, the Lost Brothers band in St James Church and the inimitable tenth and final Funk Ball in Danno's pub.
Monday followed with a political symposium in Ionad an Bhlascaoid, featuring Joe Higgins TD, journalists Elaine Byrne and Harry Mcgee and David Hall of New Horizons as they discussed the prospects for Ireland's recovery. Political comedy with Abie Philban Bowman and Clabhsúr na bhféile Fog Horn String brought things to a close.
"The audiences have been really enthusiastic this year, with 90 per cent of events sold out in advance" said festival director, Dr Peadar O Fionnain. "Féile na Bealtaine arts festival is a bilingual arts festival held throughout the Dingle Peninsula, specialising in offbeat and innovative arts and this year was certainly one to remember."