Saturday 15 December 2018

Tai chi, crochet, dancing, chair yoga, choirs... Everything that the Bealtaine festival has to offer

Tai chi can help older people to improve muscle strength and balance, which are imperative in reducing risk of falls
Tai chi can help older people to improve muscle strength and balance, which are imperative in reducing risk of falls

Evelyn Coughlan

Since the ancient times of the Gaelic clans Bealtaine festival was celebrated on the first day of May, to celebrate the transition from Spring to Summer and the hope of a good harvest.

While the Celtic tradition of driving cattle through two bonfires as a ritual of good luck before sending them out to pasture has long died out, the festival is still celebrated today - only differently.

Today, an organisation called Age and Opportunity uses the festival to promote ways of developing creativity as we age, all around Ireland.

South Dublin County Council is one of the councils in Ireland that's celebrating Bealtaine throughout all of May.

To begin, a number of coffee mornings will be held in centres across the South Dublin area, these will enable people to bond with each other and see what events are happening throughout the month.

None of the participants will be short of things to do.

There will be craft clubs and events where people can attend crochet, lace making, weaving, media collage and knitting courses.

Gardening and floristry courses will be occurring also. 

There will be horticulture events in the Sean Walsh Park in Tallaght on Wednesdays from 11 to 1, with the active retirement group. This is a good opportunity for people to connect and learn new gardening skills.

Participants can try to learn how to play traditional music or join a choir.

For anyone who wants to stay active, they can try ballroom dancing or perhaps Irish dancing.

The more competitive folk will enjoy whist drives, bingo, quizzes and walking football games. There will be also bake off in Tallaght and this is sure to be contesting.

The Go for Life Programme has created a collection of unusual games for participants to try. Scidils is an adaption of bowling and skittles, Cornhole is a form of a beanbag toss and Flisk is a hybrid of Frisbee and horseshoe pitching no less!

There will be senior games on Fridays in May and teams will be picked to go on to a national competition.

Theatre performances and plays are planned by local drama groups to entertain the participants. There will even be céili dances some evenings. There will be workshops for the Clamour and Roar Programme, an exciting theatre project that explores the landscape and people of South Dublin County.

It’s clear a lot of the events planned will be good fun but many are also very informative and worthwhile.

There will be many computer, mobile phone and internet courses for those who are unaware of how to use them.

Bank of Ireland are funding and hosting internet banking classes to help the elderly clearly get to grips with how to manage their money online.

For those who want to rekindle their interest in the Irish language, they will have the opportunity to attend Gaeilge speaking classes.

Others can get their creative juices flowing with memoir and creative writing classes.

Tai chi, chair yoga, holistic therapy and reflexology courses will also be taking place around the South Dublin district. These classes will promote flexibility, meditation and relaxation which are key to good health and wellbeing.

To celebrate Bealtaine 2018 the Social Inclusion Unit are running a Bealtaine competition where participants can enter any new skill or creative craft they learnt through the various events they attended.

Finally, there will be an exclusive closing ceremony in Clondalkin for winners of the Bealtaine competition, followed by a Tea Dance.

South Dublin County Council’s CEO Daniel McLoughlin says this will be a very “special month”, “giving everyone the opportunity to discover a new talent or find a new way to use an old skill”.

For all details of dates and events a full brochure is available on or

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