Image shown: Ciara Harrison

Bealtaine Festival, Ireland’s national celebration of the arts and creativity as we age, takes place each May. Due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, this year’s festival is not going ahead as planned. Instead the occasion will be marked through Bealtaine At Home, a series of online events beginning on 7 May.  

Artists in your Residence

In 2019, Age & Opportunity led six artist residencies in care settings around Ireland. This May, the six artists were due to revisit their care setting for a Bealtaine celebration. This unfortunately is no longer possible but the artists involved have all responded to this by creating an opportunity for wider engagement, inspired by their residency.

Photographer Brian Cooney has created an online photography club for those wanting to try some new techniques. Brian was in residence in Sligo Community Hospital. Visual artist Ciara Rodgers has created online drawing workshops inspired by her residency in Castleisland Day Care Centre.
Print artist Aoife Barrett has created ‘Print At Home’ pamphlets and accompanying videos which will be released throughout May, inspired by her time in Raheen Community Hospital, Clare.

Multimedia artist Clíona Ní Laoi has created an immersive video that draws from the natural world to evoke a sense of calm. This is a response to her residency in Clonskeagh CNU which focussed on multi-sensory environments in dementia care. Visual artist John Conway has created short audio excerpts of story and song from the people he met in Naas Day Care Centre. Visual artist Andy Parsons is working on a portrait project, inspired by his residency in Killybegs Community Hospital.

Age & Opportunity’s Artist in Residence in a Care Setting initiative 2019 was funded by Creative Ireland’s National Creativity Fund, the HSE CHO Lottery Funds and the Arts Council of Ireland.

Select events across the country

Partner events include At the Table No One Grows Old presented by Helium Arts, the children’s arts and health organisation, and led by artist Ciara Harrison. This intergenerational creative exchange brings together a group of  9 – 12 year olds and older family members via postal and internet exchanges to share textile skills, memories and rituals of being at the table. During Age & Opportunity’s Bealtaine At Home the collaborators, both young and old, invite you the public to make your own responses to this theme.

Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre, together with Age and Opportunity and Cork County Council Arts and Library Services, are hosting a special online edition of their annual Bealtaine exhibition. This exhibition celebrates the creativity of community hospital residents who create artwork all year round as part of the Arts for Health Partnership Programme, West Cork.

As part of the Uillinn exhibition, Artist Kate McElroy will lead Bright Fire, an online interactive activity. The public are invited to respond to Bealtaine, the origin of which is said to derive from Old Irish, meaning ‘bright fire’ where Bel means light (Belenus was the Celtic Sun and healer God).

The full Bealtaine At Home programme can be accessed at

Updated 16 May


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