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Bealtaine 2016 celebrates its iconic citizens

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Age & Opportunity is delighted to announce Iconic Citizens as the theme for Bealtaine 2016, Ireland’s annual festival of creativity as we age which is celebrated during the month of May. Last year, over 125,000 people participated in Bealtaine, making it one of the most important cultural events in the national arts calendar. This phenomenally high level of engagement, married with the creativity and enthusiasm of all involved, makes Bealtaine the vibrant and energetic celebration of creativity that it is today.

This year, Bealtaine will celebrate its 21st birthday with over 600 events in libraries, arts centres, care settings, galleries, local halls and community centres throughout the country. With a wide range of activities including poetry, writing workshops, traditional music events, art exhibitions and an important seminar about the use of creativity in planning our communities and care settings, there will definitely be something for everyone during Bealtaine 2016.

Festival Highlights include:

• Visual artist Deirdre O'Mahony will present First Citizens Speak, a film that explores the lives of a community of older people in North Clare

• Writer Brian Leyden is the Bealtaine National Writer in Residence and his memoir ‘The Home Place: A Memoir’ will be the Bealtaine book for the month. His residency will include three special performances with musician Seamie O’Dowd in Clare, Dublin and Leitrim, along with visits to writers’ groups in Sligo, Longford, Dublin, Portlaoise and Navan

• Visual artist Anna Spearman will embark on a residency with the Kilkenny Collective for Arts Talent (KCAT/ - an open access Arts and Lifelong Learning initiative promoted by the Camphill Communities. This will be complemented with an exhibition at the Damer House Gallery in Roscrea of the work of painter Andrew Pike

• WillFredd Theatre Company will tour CARE during the festival, and run a series of special workshops with staff in hospices

• Musician Paul Creane, writer Peter Murphy and singer Paula Cox will give a unique and powerful performance in Wexford

• The Ark Cultural Centre for Children will host a reading event for grandparents and their grandchildren which will be led by Marita Conlon McKenna and her daughter Amanda Hearty

• There will be another family literary intergenerational event this time featuring writer Mary Morrissey and her niece, poet Julie Morrissey alongside poets Ciaran O’Rourke and his aunt Enda Wyley

• This Is Not My Beautiful House is an important seminar which will examine how creativity, creatively charged communities and the arts contribute to better ways of living as we age. In particular, the seminar will seek to address how creativity should shape residential and community design in a way that enhances human dignity and growth

• Finally, Bealtaine, in partnership with glór Arts Centre, Ennis and Clare County of Culture, is delighted to announce VOLTage, a festival-within-a-festival, VoltAge will feature three days of exhibitions, discussions and events from Thursday 5 May to Saturday 7 May

Alongside this programme there will be a huge range of 600 local initiatives hosted by local authorities, arts centres, libraries, active retirement groups, care settings, community groups and clubs from every part of the country. Speaking today, Karen Smyth, CEO of Age & Opportunity said, “We are delighted to unveil a very special programme for Bealtaine 2016 as we commemorate 100 years since the birth of modern Ireland with a celebration of Ireland’s iconic first citizens. The festival combines the creative mediums of visual art, music, theatre and literature to explore the impact that Ireland’s first generation continues to have on our culture and identity today. As Bealtaine enters its 21st year, we are thrilled that the festival continues to grow and with over 600 different arts events taking place nationwide, audiences of all ages and across Ireland will have plenty to choose from during the month of May”.

Also speaking today, Jane Daly, Co-Director of the Irish Theatre Institute commented “PRIME, Irish Theatre Institute’s continuing professional development programme for older actors quite simply would not have been possible without the support of Age & Opportunity’s Bealtaine Festival. The success of this initiative, developed for practitioners who work well beyond what is considered the ‘normal’ retirement age, is testament to the shared priorities of both organisations and highlights the value of partnerships like this that can support career sustainability for theatre professionals into older age.”

Bealtaine is an Age & Opportunity initiative funded by the Arts Council and delivered by hundreds of organisations around the country. For more information please go to

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