Uisneach Inn, Killare, Co Westmeath – Bealtaine, May 4/5 2013

Festival of the Fires

Ireland’s newest festival – which just also happens to be its most ancient– was rekindled in blazing fashion over the May Bank Holiday weekend, with 73 controlled beacon fires lighting up across Ireland, unifying the nation. Fires were also lit in India, Iran, Iraq, Scotland, America, England, Wales, Germany, Portugal and Spain as the world welcomed back this iconic Bealtaine event.

This spectacular event had not been attempted in over 1,400 years so it is safe to say we are eternally grateful to everyone who helped make it happen. The main festival site was, of course, the historic Hill of Uisneach in County Westmeath where farmers, families and OAPs mixed with druids, witches and cultural tourists. In total, close to 4,000 festival goers from all over the world assembled on Uisneach to witness this historic event.

This year’s event was an experiment, one which proved to be extremely successful with over 50,000 participants in all fire sites. Next year, the festival organisers say the event is going to be much bigger, with all 32 counties and more countries taking part. Full details will be revealed on this site shortly, so keep checking back.

Festival of the Fires will become a Bealtaine ‘Homecoming’ for the Irish Diaspora. Over €30million euro could be brought back into the country by inviting the Irish Diaspora back to celebrate in their ancestral counties. This homecoming will be co-ordinated with the assistance of Failte Ireland, Tourism Ireland and the Department of Foreign Affairs using ambassadors and consulates around the world. Irish musicians, writers and artists are also being brought on board to spread the word while touring abroad. Ireland has been in darkness for too long, so it’s time to bring a little light back.

But it won’t all be light… When Festival of the Fires is on, it is also intended to promote a national ‘blackout’ similar to Earth Hour, with homes and communities encouraged to extinguish their lights for an hour between 9 and 10 whilst fires are lit in their communities in response to the central Hill of Uisneach fire.

Communities and villages throughout the country will also be encouraged to host their own ‘Festival of the Fires’ similar to the main Uisneach event, which included historical lectures, arts installations, craft and food villages alongside festival staples such as music, theatre, performance art and poetry. We are to organise five key events next year, one in each province with the main event being held at the ancient fifth province, or Mide, on Uisneach.

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