Creative Killeagh May Sunday Festival
On the May Bank Holiday weekend, a historic tradition will be revived in Killeagh: May Sunday. The festivities surrounding the first Sunday in May trace back to the de Cappel Brooke family, whose estate is now Glenbower Wood. In order to show off their newly built bridges and renovations in the 1830s, they invited the villagers onto the estate. This became an annual celebration, which continued until 2001.
Now, Glenbower is no longer a private woodland, and is a central focus of the Creative Killeagh community art project facilitated by Greywood Arts. Four artists have been researching May Sunday traditions, Killeagh parish history, and learning about Glenbower Wood since September. Each artist is leading a community project in the run-up to, or at the May Sunday Festival. April also welcomes multiple events by Creative Killeagh artist-in-residence Sara French.
The Creative Killeagh team first set out to explore the wood with the support of the Killeagh Inch Historical Group. This provided invaluable context for the project. Villagers have lent us photographs, articles, and old May Sunday programmes as they show enthusiasm for the return of the festival. Traditions you will see resurface in 2018 include a torchlight procession, fancy dress competition, and open-air dance. Irish May Day traditions have inspired workshops on May Bush and butter making, and a visit to St. Fainin’s holy well in the wood. The festival will wrap up on Monday with the GAA Family Fun Day, as the hurling was often part of past May Sundays. And of course, there will be music in the pubs.
Glenbower Wood itself will be the site of Glenbower Talks, a programme of walks addressing its history, ecology, and significance to the community, designed by Creative Killeagh Artist Carol Anne Connolly. Movement Artist Lisa Cahill has been leading Sensing Place, a series of tremendously popular sensory walks for all ages in the wood throughout March and April. Cahill invites participants to playfully see, touch, smell, feel and taste the wood in new ways. She is also collaborating with dancer Siobhán Ní Dhuinnín on a site-specific performance which will take place in the wood. The May Sunday Festival will also include a Land Art workshop, led by Belinda Walsh and Annie Cummins.
Local filmmaker Kara Sweeney has been working with the youth group Inch Foróige over the last few months. In a workshop in collaboration with Cork Young Filmmakers, the group learned the technical aspects of camera and sound equipment, as well as about the filmmaking process. Putting their new skills to use, these dedicated young people have shot a documentary about the village that will be screened on May Sunday.
Greywood Arts director Jessica Bonenfant Coogan is organising This Neck of the Woods: an Exhibition about Where we Live. She has invited locals to bring in an object that represents their connection to the village. The artefacts and stories will be on display at Greywood during the festival weekend.
Creative Killeagh has been made possible by a generous Creative Communities grant from Cork County Council, and additional support from Creative Ireland. There will also be a Creative Killeagh Pop-up Restaurant serving a range of food from the local land, wood and sea on Saturday April 14th at 7pm with Comida chef Mike Clery. For €30 guest receive three courses and their first drink and support the Creative Killeagh project and festival. Tickets can be purchased from Greywood Arts (contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 0838451750) or online via Eventbrite.
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