May Day / Bealtaine

The Ancient Irish May Festival

Discover the lore and customs surrounding the start of summer

Our articles on Bealtaine

Buailteachas / Booleying: Ireland’s Forgotten History

Photographer Alan Tobin joins Niall of Bitesize Irish to explore Ireland’s forgotten history of moving livestock to the uplands for summer, a practice which took place after Bealtaine every year. About Alan Tobin Alan Tobin is a photographic artist based in the Galtee mountains. He lives beaneath the Galtees in the Glen of Aherlow, Co.

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Bealtaine – Ireland’s Ancient Fire Festival

The first of May has been a traditional festival in many countries for hundreds of years, whether as May Day or the International Workers’ Day. In Irish it is known as Bealtaine, and the festival even lends its name to the whole month: mí na Bealtaine. But what are the roots of the Irish festival?

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An Irish Song for The First of May

Here comes summer! May 1 is the traditional first day of summer (why American officials decided to place the official start of summer on the summer solstice, or midsummer, I never have fully understood). In Ireland, and throughout Europe, May Day (Lá Bealtaine — pronounced “lah BAL-tin-yeh” — in Irish) is among the oldest known celebrations.

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