May is upon us again agus ta cead mile failte roimhe. The summer is beginning to show itself with a good brightness in the evening sky ‘til nine and temperatures increasing overall. But like life it’s not all sunshine as plenty of rain is still lurking around the place awaiting each opportunity to shower us and so dampen over-enthusiasm betimes. Yes I like most people am glad to see the end of those long dreary nights and to arrive after the promise of spring at the season’s portal of long and lingering summer evenings – the warmth of summer so needed to replenish both body and soul. As I write, I am conscious too of the sadness which has visited other people’s lives this past week and hope that the gloom that has fallen on them will lift in the goodness of time and community.

Two weeks ago, I reminded readers that the Bealtaine Festival based at our local library was on its way come May. Each year in recent times the excellent Waterford City Library Service brings you the Bealtaine Festival event in the month of May, as the name suggests. It is the Irish national arts festival celebrating creativity in the older age. In this upcoming May based festival which takes place on a nationwide basis hundreds of different events are undertaken in every art form. Taking its name from the ancient Celtic festival, it celebrates springtime, renewal, creativity and growth in ageing. In your local Ardkeen library there is a full programme throughout the month from art classes to gardening to bridge to internet sessions to alternative therapies and more besides.

May Dates for Bealtaine

So here are details of the Bealtaine Festival that I promised to bring you closer to the events: Art on Fridays with Susan Enticknap.

This is a 4 week course starting Friday, 9 May, at 10.30 am. If you would like to explore your artistic side then this four-week course is for you – all materials supplied. Booking is essential.

  • Week 1: Ink and Pen – drawing with nib pens and ink.
  • Week 2: Weaving – using a variety of materials.
  • Week 3: Painting using acrylic paints – express yourself!
  • Week 4: Print making.

Gardening Workshop – Two sessions

Thursdays, May 8 and 29 at 3.30 pm, with Margaret Power from Abbey Road Gardens, Ferrybank.

Part One: Seed sewing and your garden questions answered.

Part Two: Growing your seeds and taking cuttings.

Introduction to the internet classes: Back by popular demand! These are basic Internet classes for beginners consisting of two 2 hour sessions. Very popular, so contact Ardkeen Library asap on 051 849755 for more details – dates and times to be arranged.

Tuesday Taster Sessions – 3.30

  • 6th May – Introduction to Homeopathy and Craniosacral Therapy with Vonnie Brennan
  • 27th May – Introduction to Therapeutic Massage with Dolores Legros.
  • 13th May – Introduction to City Archives with City Archivist Donal Moore.
  • 20th Many – Introduction to Bridge with Michael Brennan.

And on Wednesday May 20th (3.30pm) Ella Ryan of the City Council’s environment department gives a Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Workshop. So all in all this is a very varied and valuable programme of events geared towards those youngsters of 55 and over with the theme of you’re never too old to learn new skill and its fun to learn while making new friends into the bargain. Our library you must agree is at the heart of the community.

Queen of the May/Bealtaine

The May Bank Holiday awaits us next weekend when we mark the arrival of summer. So let’s take a look at some of the traditions behind this month and its significance historically. In recent times especially in Europe it has became a form of Labour Day and as such is an EU wide holiday. But May, at the portal of summer, has always been revered and honoured, known as Bealtaine as Gaeilge and generally called Beltane by the Celts, Walpurgis by the Teutons and Floralia by the Romans, May festivals were a time of “wearing of the green.” Throughout the Northern Hemisphere, the month of May is a time to celebrate renewal of life. May is named for Maia, grandmother, the Goddess of death and fertility. Maia scorns marriage, so it is a good idea to put weddings off until June. This was a very strong traditional taboo in Ireland up to 30/40 years ago and even more recent in some places when weddings simply did not take place in that month. Although less stern goddesses now oversee May festivities, wreaths and baskets of Hawthorn are still used in some May festivals in Maia’s honour.

The May-pole is the most familiar feature of May festivities, though less so in Ireland, but it has three distinct interpretations. In some cultures, the May-pole represented the world centre, or alternately, the hub of the wheel of heaven. In ancient times, the intricate dance of weaving cords around the pole was a magical attempt to direct nature, which had become topsy-turvy over the course of time, back in order. Today the dance is performed by any who wish to participate in weaving the magic.

Celebrated for thousands of years throughout diverse cultures, Mayday could be the most ancient religious festival in the Northern Hemisphere. Ritual human sacrifice to a death/fertility goddess was certainly practised until the 1st Century BCE. As nature became less fearsome, and more cultivated, the nature goddess became less powerful and bloodthirsty. Today, we still celebrate the remnants of an ancient religion, Nature turning on the Wheel of Heaven. So this May day stuff has great antiquity and in many ways not just another Bank Holiday. I’ve heard a wag say that the reason it’s called May is that the summer ‘may’ follow! So much then for all that learned stuff above – he may be right, to go by last year.

Ezra Pound

“When I carefully consider the curious habits of dogs,

I am compelled to conclude that man is the superior animal.

When I consider the curious habits of man,

I confess, my friend, I am puzzled” – Ezra Pound.

Ogden Nash: I would live my life in nonchalance and insouciance

Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.

(2) I think I will never seea billboard as lovely as a tree.

Indeed, unless the billboard falls I’ll never see a tree again!

Aldous Huxley: To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs.

Dame Sybil Thorndike, replying to a query as to whether she had ever considered divorce during the course of a long married life: Divorce – never, but murder, often.

Go seachtain eile, slan.