Loftus Hall to celebrate Bealtaine, the beginning of summer in the ancient Celtic calendar, with a new free two-day Festival of Fire.
Bealtaine, the Festival of Fire will take place on the grounds of Ireland’s most haunted house, Loftus Hall, on the Hook Peninsula, Co. Wexford on May 5th and 6th and promises an exciting rekindling of the ancient Pagan rituals that marked the official arrival of the warmer season and the hope of a good harvest.
This free festival will recreate many of the Celtic rituals that played an important role during Bealtaine, such as the building of a giant Wicker God, worshipping the Queen of the May, a celebration of the marriage of the God Lugh (the sun God) and the Goddess Aine (Goddess of the Land), dressing the May bush and the blessing of the cows. Visitors to the two-day festival will also have an opportunity to explore Loftus Hall’s recently restored five-acre walled gardens.
Aidan Quiqley, owner of Loftus Hall is looking forward to bringing this new festival to the area. “What better way to introduce the public to our beautifully restored walled gardens than with a festival that celebrates growth and abundance. The premise of the festival is to revisit and explore the cultures and traditions that were of huge significance to the pagan Celts. The demarcation between winter and summer was clearly defined and celebrated accordingly. The summer heralded purification and growth and these were marked by many rituals that were believed to protect people from harm from transcendent spirits.”
“Loftus Hall’s Festival of Fire will re-enact many of these meaningful rituals such decorating the May Bush. Bonfires will be lit, and cows will be led between the fires to purify them and shield them from disease. Baya, a trained Shamanic healer, storyteller and a Priestess of Elen will recount and share the customs of our ancestors.”
Other family-friendly events taking place throughout Loftus Hall’s Festival of Fire include artisan craft making stalls, blacksmith workshops, celtic music and dance, and traditional feast and fayre, all guaranteed to rekindle the spirit of Bealtaine on Wexford’s Hook Peninsula. Visitors to the Festival are encouraged to dress up in costume and take part in the May Queen competition and the May bush making workshops.
As part of Ireland’s Ancient East, visitors will get true sense of the dark history of Loftus Hall, which is celebrating 668 years of mystery and intrigue. Most notably, it was the 18th century that the much-heralded story of the “dark stranger” emerged. The owner’s daughter, Anne Tottenham, discovered that an invited guest had cloven hooves. The stranger flew into a fiery rage, crashing through the roof leaving in his wake a smell of sulphur and brimstone. Following this incident, the house has been subject to frequent and inexplicable paranormal activity.
To find out more about Loftus Hall or the Bealtaine Festival of Fire taking place on Saturday, May 5th and Sunday, May 6th, visit www.loftushall.ie or call 051 397728.