200 artists and musicians to bring Celtic colour to Clon
Clonakilty is all set to celebrate the Celtic festival of Samhain, starting this Thursday and continuing until Sunday evening when 200 performing artists and musicians will parade from Astna Square, through the West Cork town’s main street and on to Emmet Square for a massive drum and fire show finale.
Themed Away with the Faeries and showcasing figures and creatures from the four realms of Celtic mythology, the parade will be a spectacle to wake the dead.
It is fitting, because in the Celtic period of Samhain — October 31 to November 4 — our ancestors believed the boundary between this world and the ‘Otherworld’ could be crossed more easily and that it was easier for the Aos Sí, the faeries or spirits, to come into our world.
“In this week of Samhain, it’s believed the veil between the living world and that of the departed is very thin, that we’re very close to people who have passed and to everything that isn’t human, but mystic and fairy,” said Lisa Brinkmann, who, along with Mark Dougherty, Ciara Heffernan and Ronan McLoughlin is a member of Geata Arts, a community arts group organising the festival.
“Samhain celebrates the Celtic New Year and the beginning of winter.
“It marks the end of harvest time, when life is dormant and resting and we’re entering the darker months,” explained Lisa.
She said the Clonakilty festival is about tapping into the Celtic tradition, rather than the more Americanised version of Halloween.
In addition to the street parade, Geata Arts has organised a programme of events running throughout the weekend.
It features a talk by Marianne Caulfield on the ancient art of keening and by Jenny Butler on the mythology of Samhain. There will be a theatre performance in De Barra’s Folk Club about a 19th-century woman who died by suicide, returning to demand her right to a grave and a decent place to rest.
A bodhrán workshop by Kíla’s Rónán Ó Snodaigh and an acoustic candlelight gig are other highlights.
Cork County Lord Mayor Patrick Gerard Murphy will open the festival, now in its second year, and, as part of proceedings, he will open the Shrine of Remembrance in Spillers Lane.
The shrine is a woven willow structure allowing everyone to leave a little note or blessing in memory of someone dear that they’ve lost.
“Whatever our spiritual beliefs, sending loved ones a blessing or prayer is a beautiful gesture that helps with the pain of grief, because grief is an ongoing process and through ritual we get healing,” said Lisa.
A scene from Samhain in Clonakilty’s Emmet Street last year. The Samhain festival, which runs from this Thursday to Sunday, taps into our Celtic tradition rather than the more Americanised version of Halloween.
Scenes from Astna Square in Clonakilty during last year’s Samhain festival. Cork County Lord Mayor Patrick Gerard Murphy will open this year’s festival on Thursday, including opening a Shrine of Remembrance in Spillers Lane.
The Samhain festival in Clonakilty will culminate in a parade with the theme of ‘Away with the Faeries’.