Bealtaine is almost upon us again here in Ireland. With lengthening days, the last of the trees are allowing their lime green leaves to unfurl and the wind has made beautiful pink swirling carpets of cherry blossom petals on the footpaths to cheer our still chilly mornings. The pink-tinged buds of the magnificent white hawthorn blossom are swelling and the great swathe of gorse on the top of the hill behind my house is beginning to show promise of the sulphur yellow spectacle to come when it opens its tens of thousands of flowers to the warmth of the sun. Together they will create the awesome spectacle that is Ireland in the month of May.
Bealtaine (the Irish word for May) is the time of the ancient Festival of Bealtaine, an ancient fire festival heralding the transition between the seasons. Bealtaine heralds change – an appropriate time then for the internationally acclaimed Bealtaine Festival in Ireland celebrating and enjoying the talents of older people.
A year ago I wrote about this joyful celebration here and how it has been emulated in other countries. Over 120,000 Irish people took part in this celebration of age last year. 2012 is European year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations so this year the focus will be on bringing generations together to explore the question : What kind of old do you want to be ? On May 8 – 10th a major global conference will take place in Dublin with the theme of ‘ Creating New Old’.
The Bealtaine Festival is spearheaded by Age and Opportunity – a non-profit organization working to promote participation by older people in various aspects of society, with the Bealtaine Festival concentrating on greater participation by older people in the arts. Libraries, museums, theatres, cinemas, active retirement groups , care centres, beaches, and woods will resound to sounds of the celebration of being older during this wonderful month of change in Ireland. A list of events taking place in all counties of Ireland can be seen here .