Categories: adventurefamilyFunOutdoorsHistory

Féile na Bealtaine

Saturday 29 April – Sat 6 May

The first of May marks the beginning of the ancient festival of Bealtaine, Féile na Bealtaine, and is the halfway point between the spring equinox and summer solstice.  Bealtaine, translating as month of May, is still used in the Irish language today and is said to derive from Old Irish meaning, bright fire. 

Many years ago in ancient times, communities would light their own bonfires on May Eve before a main fire was then lit in County Westmeath at the Hill of Uisneach.  This mountain was regarded as the centre of the country and traditionally known as the naval of Ireland.  The following morning, on the first of May, many folk would rise early to gather flowers and boughs from the mountain ash or rowan tree and place them across their doorways or hang them outside their windows.   Superstition has it that on May Day guests were not welcomed into houses nor was anything given from a home as these gifts of hospitality or generosity were believed to be used as evil spells against the homeowner. 

On a lighter note however, there was much feasting, dancing and drinking too!  The Féile na Bealtaine is still celebrated widely to this day and there are many activities for you and your family and friends to enjoy and experience throughout the Mourne Mountains and the Ring of Gullion destination.  

On his farm, nestled on the magnificent Ring of Gullion landscape, Brian from Mountain Ways Ireland is ready to show you a walk on the wild side and introduce you to the magical world of foraging for wild and medicinal plants.  What a wonderful time of year to immerse yourself in nature at Slieve Gullion.

Foraging at Bealtaine - Forkhill

Create a Bealtaine fire lantern at White Rock Glass Studio with artist Tracey McVerry

Fused Glass Ogham Experience at White Rock Glass Studio - Newtownhamilton

Treat your family to a variety of crafts, activities and workshops at Drumcullan Road, Downpatrick.  Watch battle demonstrations from a safe distance and see the ancient ritual of the Maypole dance.  Listen to the tale of the May Queen and her faithful companion, the Green Man and all about the battle they face together. 

Bealtaine Festival Celebrations - Downpatrick

Take a deep breath and sing your heart out at Ciara Hall’s Irish language song workshop

Sean-nós Singing Workshop - Ceardlann Amhránaíochta - Local Songs - Féile na Bealtaine - Newry

Remember how we dreaded the wooden spoon as a child?  Well here’s your chance to make your peace with that childhood punishment.  Spend the day at Bluebell Lane and, using traditional tools such as hook knives, learn the art of wooden spoon carving with unseasoned wood that has been sourced locally. 

Carving in the Woodlands - Féile na Bealtaine - Newry

Try your hand at willow weaving and learn about this ancient craft and traditional techniques as you create yourself a beautiful berry basket to bring home with you at the end of the day.

Féile na Bealtaine Full Day Basket Weaving Course - Newry

When hunger strikes on May Eve, sing for your supper at Bluebell Lane.  Gather around a cosy woodburning stove in a beautifully constructed wooden hut and learn to sing in Irish with the very talented Colleen Savage and her amusing storytelling comrade, Padraig Carragher.  Wolf down a tasty bowl of vegetable stew and quench your thirst after all that singing with some locally crafted Irish cider. Great craic altogether! 

Sing for your Supper - Féile na Bealtaine - Newry

As we move into the summer months, there are many new edible weeds and medicinal plants to forage.  Learn all about the hedgerow from Brian of Mountain Ways Ireland.

Foraging in the Foothills - Forkhill

Adults and young people alike can build up a rhythm with master drummer, Jimmy Haggan in these educational and musical workshops.

Rhythm's Of The Woodland - Children's Drumming Experience - Féile na Bealtaine - Newry

Rhythm's Of The Woodland - Adult Drumming workshop - Féile na Bealtaine - Newry

Let Colleen Savage with her Irish lilting voice lead you in her traditional song workshop around a warm open fire.

Traditional Singing Workshop - Féile na Bealtaine - Newry

Don't miss these amazing fun events!

Foraging at Bealtaine
Nature
Féile Logo

As part of the Féile na Bealtaine festival 2023, Re-discover the ancient art of foraging at Slieve Gullions foot.

Bealtaine Festival Celebrations
Markets / Fairs
The Ballydugan Medieval Settlement

Come join the May Queen for our Bealtaine Celebrations!

Sean-nós Singing Workshop - Ceardlann Amhránaíochta - Local Songs - Féile na Bealtaine
Workshop
Sean nós Singing Workshop

Foghlaim cupla amhrán úr Gaeilge ó cheantar Oiriall - Come and learn a few new sean-nós songs in Irish from the local tradition.

Carving in the Woodlands - Féile na Bealtaine
Workshop
Spoon carving

Come and enjoy this immersive one day workshop learning the skills of spoon carving in the woodland

Féile na Bealtaine Full Day Basket Weaving Course
Workshop
Féile na Bealtaine Full Day Basket Weaving Course

As part of Féile na Bealtaine 2023, join Jeanette Keenan on a full-day Basket Weaving Workshop at Bluebell Lane to make a berry basket.

Sing for your Supper - Féile na Bealtaine
Participatory Event
Sing for your Supper - FNB

'It was how I imagined céilí houses used to be, a place filled with craic, cairde agus ceol' - Tom Kelly, Irish News Columnist

Foraging in the Foothills
Craft
Brian with Foraging book

On this 3-hour workshop/foraging experience, Brian will begin by introducing you to some basic "do's and dont's" of foraging. He will outline safety guidelines as well as run through identification and preservation techniques. Brian will also show you some of the deadly plants meaning you stay safe. You will learn how to identify a range of common 'weeds' and plants. This is the secret world of wild edibles and medicinal plants. Brian will reveal some of that magic for you. These plants were once revered by our ancestors right here at the foot of Slieve Gullion. You will have the chance to taste from nature's wild larder. Better again, taste some of the delicious wild food nibbles that Brian has preserved over the season!

Rhythm's Of The Woodland - Children's Drumming Experience - Féile na Bealtaine
Workshop
FNB

Come join us at Bluebell lane and help celebrate Bealtaine 2023

Rhythm's Of The Woodland - Adult Drumming workshop - Féile na Bealtaine
Workshop
Jimmy

Come join us at Bluebell lane and help celebrate Bealtaine 2023.

Traditional Singing Workshop - Féile na Bealtaine
Workshop
Traditional Singing

Come and share an enjoyable afternoon learning some local songs to South Armagh