Bealtaine Festival 2018

– Laois Bealtaine Programme 2018   Ireland’s national celebration of the arts and creativity as we age included a host of events around the county this year. The Laois Arthouse, Stradbally hosted ‘Welcome to May’ an exhibition by the Stradbally Active Retirement Group, throughout the month of May and on Thursday 10th May  a free writing workshop ‘The story of your life’  hosted by Pauline Clooney was enjoyed by a number of participants where they were encouragement to write their own story.  Wednesday 16th May we had a  free Art workshop to celebrate National Drawing Day led by artist Mary Burke to encourage drawing with colour using the medium of Oil Pastels.

Community events included activities such as decorating the May bush, with a talk on Irish folklore, music, refreshments and face-painting at the Community Centre Rosenallis. Dance for Fun with Maureen Culleton on in Portlaoise,   a morning of dance, games and chat.

The Portlaoise Active Retirement Group presentd a highly entertaining Variety Show on Wednesday 16th May in the Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise with choir performances, dancing, solos, recitation and comedy sketches.

Bingo, Music, Song and Dance tookplace in St Canices Hall, Borris-in Ossory from 2pm-5pm on Saturday 19th May organised by the Borris-in-Ossory Social Services Committee. And on Wednesday 25th May at the Links Centre, St.Fintan’s Hospital, Portlaoise  at 11am there was a very enjoyable  Bealtaine Concert with the Sing for Joy Choir.

Local Care settings were also catered for with performances of music, songs and stories by musical trio Age Factor who visited Abbeyleix District Hospital, St Vincent’s Hospital, Mountmellick and St Brigid’s Hospital Shaen during the month.  St. Vincent’s Hospital Mountmellick residents and staff were treated to some “Musical Moments”,  as musicians from Laois School of Music and Music Generation Laois performed from their repertoire of classical, trad and modern music. Denise Boyle(Fiddle)  Siobhan Buckley(Harp) Nuala Kelly (Vocals/Guitar) and Mary Wisely (Piano Accordion).  Looking forward to a bigger and better programme of events in 2019 so contact the Arts Office if you have any ideas or suggestions for consideration or inclusion.


Laois Libraries had a long list of free events including an Intergenerational Spoken Word event on Wednesday 2nd May at Mountmellick Library, with Laois Spoken Word Artist Stephen James Smith who was joined by local poet Sheelagh Coyle and students from Transition Year at Mountmellick College and music provided by young local talent.

History lovers got to enjoy history lectures at Portlaoise Library, every Tuesday or join a local history group  in Mountrath Library.  Group Colouring, Book Clubs, Ciorcal Comhrá, and Knitting/Crochet and Getting Started with Oil Painting also took place. Learn for example about the cost involved,  how to choose & mix paints, what to buy, what not to buy.   Art enthusiasts heard a talk titled ” The Interpretation of ‘Place’ on Modern and Contemporary Irish Art by artist and art historian Paula Lynch and artist Caroline Keane ran Arts and Craft, Silk Fibre Craft, Mosaics Papermaking Crafts, and watercolour workshops in various libraries in the county over the month.

The Dunamaise Arts Centre events included cinema screenings and discussions with local film maker Ken Wardrop on his new release entitled Making The Grade.  Music with big band Route 66 Big Band  and Mick Hanly & Donal Lunny.  Theatre  shows such as Take off Your Cornflakes with Rose Henderson and Pat Nolan and Laois Fourth Wall Theatre Group presented Da by Hugh Leonard