Offaly Bealtaine Festival, this coming May, is celebrating its tenth year in style, 1960’s style. All of Offaly’s active, free-thinking, young at heart over 55’s are invited to make the 2013 Bealtaine Festival our most memorable one yet.
Organised by the Arts and Library Services of Offaly County Council, Birr Theatre and Arts Centre and active retirement groups around the county, the 2013 festival is focusing on the year 1963 ; the year that US President John F Kennedy paid a 3 day visit to Ireland ; the year The Beatles arrived in Dublin to perform a show and the year Brendan Bowyer and the Royal Showband become the first showband to reach number 1 in the singles chart with “Kiss me Quick”.
Bealtaine is a national festival which celebrates creativity in older age, and it has been developed by Age and Opportunity since 1995. While the national theme this year is ‘Grow Happy’ – a call to celebrate growth, spring and positivity for ourselves and our communities.
Offaly Arts Officer, Sinead O’Reilly explains why in Offaly, this is being embraced, but also expanded upon, “Last year we undertook an evaluation of Bealtaine in Offaly, knowing that we were coming up to our 10 th year and realising that we needed to take a fresh look. The festival has great participation among active retirement groups and care centres, but beyond that, many people over 55 are not connecting with the festival. When we looked at the demographics of the county, we realised that only 8% of those over 55 are involved in retirement groups, while the majority of people over 55, who are working and active don’t consider that they are in older age, so we need to find a way to make the festival more accessible. ”
In 1963 (50 years ago) important social and political milestones were achieved, which needless to say impacted on cultural development, nationally and internationally; Martin Luther King delivered his ‘I have a dream’ speech to over 250,000 in Washington DC and Valentina Tereshkova becomes the 1st woman in space. It is hoped that looking back at this era , will inspire people to explore how far we have come culturally and socially.
Whether you are part of a group or an individual , tell us your ideas and let us know what would inspire you to be more involved in the Offaly Bealtaine Festival. You could organise an event during th e festival, such as a reunion evening of jiving to rock ‘n roll favourites, a show band night, an exhibition of 1960’s jive dresses (there must some out there!) a screening of Cleopatra (the Oscar winner of 1963), a reinactment scene from The Great Escape with your local drama group or an Andy Warhol inspired Pop Art exhibition with your local art group .