Winter Solstice Fesitval 2018
Update published on: December 31, 2018
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and the Ring of Gullion Partnership kicked off their Winter Solstice Festival on 1st November 2018, traditionally known as Samhain. In Celtic Ireland, about 2,000 years ago, Samhain was the division of the year between the lighter half (summer) and the darker half (winter). The Ring of Gullion has a very special connection with the Winter Solstice.
For the two months of December and November, the Ring of Gullion Partnership provided a magical programme of events showcasing all that is great about the area with a range of lectures, music and craft workshops. This area reflects the mix of cultures from the Neolithic Era to the present day.
The Festival included showcasing one of the area’s greatest storytellers Michael J Murphy with a winter school in his honour; this year highlighted the rich cultural language of the local area.
The Festival was fortunate to have Mr Paul Gosling speaking about the Táin Bó Cúailnge, the story of a cattle-raid reputed to have taken place during winter sometime around the time of Christ. It is often ranked alongside Ireland’s greatest literary classics and frequently described as ‘epic literature’.
We also had Dr Éamon Phoenix, a political historian, journalist and commentator to give a talk on the Northern Narratives of the 1916 Rising.
Dr. Kirstin Lemon from Geological Survey of N. Ireland spoke about Rock Legends: myth busting in Mourne, Gullion and Strangford.
The Winter Solstice Festival had two nights of celebration of the rich social history of the area. On 6th December there was a night recognising and celebrating the immense contribution of women to South Armagh stories with exhibitions and photographs, music and song. Then on the Friday night 7th December in Dromintee Primary School, the hugely successful Facebook page ‘At Slieve Gullion’s Foot’ went live with never-before-seen photos, storytelling from Seamus Murphy and poetry from Malachy Ó Raifeartaigh.
Craft workshops provided ranged from strawcraft to Carrickmacross Lace.
The Festival offered 2 special days over the 21st and 22nd of December filled with meditation, reflection, mindfulness and ritual, a perfect way to connect with the cycles & rhythms in your body and in the world around.
On Friday 21st Joanna Callan and Bluebell Glamping, Mullaghbane teamed up to provide a wonderful opportunity to escape from the hussle and bustle of the festive season, to connect with yourself and with nature and to spend time in one of the most beautiful and peaceful places in Ireland.
On the 22nd December, Ring of Gullion Ambassadors Ann Ward and Gary Martin provided an experience to take time and space for personal reflection and develop personal goals and affirmations for the year ahead.
To view some of the highlights, visit the Winter Solstice Festival gallery here.