Past May Sunday Festivals


Today would have been the third revived May Sunday Festival, a historical celebration in Killeagh which dates back to the 1830s. Due to the unusual times and for the safety of all our community, the festival had to be cancelled this year.

To celebrate the day and its traditions, we’ve been sharing suggestions of things you can do on your own: making lanterns, tying your wish to the Rag Tree, listen to the Dawn Chorus, go for a walk in the woods.

Here are a few of our photos which look back on festivals past, with music, dancing, games and fancy dress. Featured are festival programs dating back to the 1960s, with a charming look back at the Killeagh Streets. Last, we have the song ‘Old Glenbower’ composed and sung by Mary Pedder Daly.

We’re looking forward to the return of the festival next year in 2021- so watch this space!

Photo credit- Kara Sweeny 2019


This time last year, we were hosting the brilliant Julie Sue Fiscellafrom USA, who transformed old windows from Greywood Arts (made here when the building was used as a sawmill) into a stunning Meditation Space. Unveiled during the May Sunday Festival 2019, it was installed in Glenbower Wood for the summer.

In each lower window, Julie has painted a native Irish lichen, and the top panel shows the colour dye made from that variety. Each pane is laminated with a clear resin to preserve the artwork and fortify the glass.

Photo credit- Kara Sweeny 2019


Music, dancing, games and fancy dress

Photo credit- Kara Sweeny 2019






May Sunday 1975

May Sunday 1967



May Sunday 2018


A look back at the 2018 festival – the first organised by Greywood Arts, with the support of Cork County Council and in collaboration with many community groups: Killeagh Inch Community Council, The Monday Club, Historical Society, Scouts, Inch Fóroige, and more! Artist-led initiatives by Jessica Bonenfant, Lisa (Cahill) Cliffe, Carol Anne Connolly & Kara Sweeney. Video by Seamus Hegarty.

The Dawn Chorus

Mountain Photo Earth Hour Instagram Post


The first Sunday in May is International Dawn Chorus Day. As part of the May Sunday Festival last year, we were privileged to have the Killeagh Inch Parish Pastoral Council present a guided walk at sunrise with Pat Smiddy, teaching us to how to listen and identify the birds of Glenbower Wood.  It made for a beautiful morning, enjoying the grand procession of morning calls and bird song to begin the festival day.

As this year is a little different for everyone, we’d like to share an online guide to identifying some of the unique bird calls for your own walk in the woods – here

Here is a snippet of birdsong from Glenbower wood from our own walks

May Sunday Traditions

The Torch Light Procession

Today is Bealtaine, or May Day – which marks the beginning of summer. Historically, it was the day for moving animals to summer pastures and for the lighting of bonfires. A Torch Light Procession was part of May Sunday Festivals in the past, most probably a link to this Celtic celebration of light and fire.

In recent years, we would be preparing to make lanterns with the Scouts and other families in our community this afternoon. At twilight, with lanterns in hand, we would process up through Glenbower to the Metal Bridge. Passing through two bonfires for luck, we would tie a rag on the rag tree – making a wish for the year to come. Last year, storyteller Noelle O’Regan captivated us with Irish myths and tales.

This year has been different for everyone, and this afternoon is very quiet at Greywood. In the absence of our usual workshop, we’d like to share some online tutorials for lantern making with you.

Instead of gathering together, you might like to place your lanterns in the front window of your home, or hang them from a tree in your garden.

Here are two tutorials for how to make your own lantern:


The Rag Tree

Hawthorn Trees, Holy Wells and ties of good will

At the end of the Torch Light Procession, people were invited to add their well wishes to the Rag Tree. This is an old Irish Tradition, where a tree (usually a Hawthorn, Ash or Whitehorn) near a Holy Well is adored with ribbons or pieces of cloth. Each one is tied with the belief if someone has a problem, or is unwell, the wish will come true as the rag wethers away.

Glenbower wood is home to Fannin’s Well, nestled in a clearing accessed by a path near the Metal Bridge.

On your next walk in the wood, you might tuck a wee rag in your pocket and make a wish for the year ahead when you cross the Metal Bridge.

World Art Day 2020

For World Art Day 2020, here’s a look at some artworks gifted by previous residents as mementos of their stay.

2019 – a year in review

2019 was a year of extraordinary growth. We grew quickly and organically – and it was not without its challenges.

The residency supported the practices of 53 artists in 2019! Fifty-three!! We had to count twice. And we worked with even more brilliant Cork based artists on community engagement projects.

We continued working with Carol Anne Connolly as she further developed her community practice in Glenbower Wood. We published a lovely document of the project that can be found online here.

We worked with performer and storyteller Noelle O’Reagan, who in collaboration with sculptor Rob Ireson, led 6 sessions of Forest School for teenagers. Other creative opportunities for over 12s included a summer Zine Making workshop and a Street Art workshop. And all ages of Scouts went into the wood to build bower bird inspired shelters with artist Aoife Desmond.
Screenshot 2019-12-31 at 15.04.562019 saw our second edition of the revival of Killeagh’s May Sunday Festival. Over 1,000 people participated in the weekend. We kicked off with lantern making and a torchlight procession, told stories, heard music at Greywood Arts and in all the pubs, and installed Julie Sue Fiscella’s Meditation Tower in Glenbower Wood. We also presented one of our most meaningful community projects come together thanks to visiting German choreographer Isabel Bernhard. Cracks & Whispers was an intergenerational devised dance performance and photography project in collaboration with Mario Soose that had an incredibly deep impact on its participants and left a lasting impression on its audiences.

Over the summer we started a tradition of communal meals thanks to Australian artist Josephine Jakobi, and it has continued in her absence. This year, we hosted artists from the U.S., Mexico, Israel, Germany, Wales, England, Estonia, Canada, Sweden, South Africa, and of course from all over the isle of Ireland. We find that the type of artists who visit Greywood are authentic, generous, present and engaged. They are curious, kind and considerate. We’re grateful for getting to spend some time with all of these brilliant souls.

Screenshot 2019-12-31 at 15.04.42

Twice we hosted the Lazy River Band – a group of the loveliest local gents playing Americana and other music straight from the heart. Dancing away to their songs at August’s Music and a Meal was a highlight of my year. We also danced with Joanna Rotkin, screened films by Hannah RW Hamalian, and were taken over by the mysterious ‘Unnameable’ creatures of Hannah J Moulds. 

We also launched Crossing the Dissour: an online journal about creative process, and with the help of editors Ryan Mihaly and K. Abram, and 26 contributors, we saw two issues come to fruition.

This autumn saw our first edition of Unexpected Spaces Public Art Programme, which we are delighted to say will become an annual event. Robert Hais, a Swedish artist with an extensive public art practice, joined us for a month to create Exitman: Ireland. This bespoke animation included motion capture of locals and was projected on the Old Mill building for a weekend in October, and stands alongside Exitman projects in Stockholm and Brooklyn. We also had a crochet workshop with Elizabeth Stepney that led to yarn-bombing the village, street art pasted and painted by teens, and a family workshop based on concepts from Hais’ works. It was joyful to temporarily transform public spaces with a bit of magic and ingenuity.
Coach House LiamOLearyProbably the biggest, most exciting and most challenging endeavor of 2019 was the launch of our COACH HOUSE CREATIVE HUB project. We have big plans for a rural arts centre adjacent to the residency. We have identified the need for artist studios, arts education space, and a flexible event and exhibition space to support the growth of our community programmes, and have secured planning permission. We’ve made significant headway with funding the project, but still have a long way to go – approximately €150,000! Our first fundraiser, a Christmas Market, was a smashing success – and you’ll certainly see more opportunities to support this important development in the coming year.

There are so many people we want to thank for making this year happen. Too many to call by name here, and we know we’ve left some out. We’re grateful for all the support we receive – from our dedicated board and fundraising committee, to all the individuals and families that attend our events. Cork County Council’s Arts and Heritage Departments, alongside our local councilors, have shown their belief in the importance of creativity through their support of our community and public art residencies and other community projects. Our amazing work exchange participants Kate & Sarah have helped make things run smoothly behind the scenes and deserve tremendous recognition. And we had our first TY work experience student, Liam, who has become a much appreciated volunteer. THANK YOU ALL!


Isabel Bernhard & cast of Cracks & Whispers by Mario Soose

2020 is a year for strategy. For planning and improving – from the big picture to the daily details. We’ll be working towards more funded residency opportunities. I’ll be carrying forward the knowledge gained achieving a special purpose award in enterprise development from CIT through the Women’s Rural Entrepreneurial Network (WREN) facilitated by SECAD this year, and I look forward to learning from the Irish Social Business Campus (ISBC), who specialise in supporting social enterprises in Ireland. 

2020 is the year we lay the foundation for future successes.

Our vision is to create a welcoming place where creativity and growth are nurtured. We want to support professional artists in their exploration of ideas and techniques. And we want to hold space for our local community to come together and explore self-expression. And we hope you will continue with us on that journey in the new year.

We wish you a new year filled with creativity, love and happiness.

Jessica Bonenfant
Artistic Director

Things to look forward to in 2020:

  • Announcement of 2020 residency awards
  • New Art Club for secondary school students & creative practice courses for adults.
  • Prose and poetry readings from the Winter Writing Residency Award winners Madeline Beach Carey and Angela T. Carr.
  • Continuation of the Arboreal Book Club with Carol Anne Connolly.
  • Our first family residency.
  • Spring community projects with artist-in-residence Aoife Banville
  • Coach House Project Gala
  • May Sunday Festival
  • Continued partnerships with the Monday Club Active Retired Group, St. Fergal’s National School, Inch Foróige youth group & Killeagh Scouts.

2020 Winter Writing Residency Award Winners!

This year – wow! We received 45% more applications than last year. It was amazing to see interest in the award grow, but it also meant that selecting winners was tougher than ever before. And behind each submission we read is a person – someone who has poured time, craft and passion into what they shared with us. We know how vulnerable it is to put your work out there to be scrutinised, so we want to say a heartfelt thank you to all the writers who shared their work with us.

We would like to congratulate Madeline Beach Carey and Angela T. Carr, the recipients of this year’s Winter Writing Residency Award on their outstanding entries. Each author will receive a week long residency in 2020, and Greywood Arts will host a reading of their work in the library. We can’t wait!

We’d also like to thank last year’s awardees, Aisling Flynn and Emily S. Cooper, for helping make the 2020 selection.


carey photoMadeline Beach Carey
Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Madeline studied literature and creative 
writing at Bard College. Since 2000 she has lived in Barcelona, Spain where she has worked as an editor, translator, cultural manager, and speechwriter.

Madeline’s stories and essays have been published in American literary journals as well as Catalan magazines. Her fiction has been supported by grants from Bread
Loaf Writers’ Conference in Vermont and the Edward Albee Foundation in New York.

In 2019 she was a fellow in fiction at Hawthornden in Scotland and in political
philosophy at the Faber Residency in Olot, Spain.

During her stay at Greywood she will be working on a novella, On the Flight Patterns
of Some Exotic Birds.

You can read selections of her work at


AngelaTCarr_Headshot_BWAngela T. Carr
Angela is a poet, editor and creative writing facilitator. Her debut collection How to Lose Your Home & Save Your Life was published by Bradshaw Books in 2014. Winner of the 2019 IYeats International Poetry Prize and The Poetry Business 2018 Laureate’s Prize, chosen by Carol Ann Duffy, her work has been placed or shortlisted in over 40 national and international competitions. She is published in literary journals and anthologies in Ireland, the UK and US, including The North, The Lonely Crowd, The London Magazine, Mslexia and Banshee. Originally from Glasgow, she lives in Dublin. More at


Unexpected Spaces

We’re delighted to announce the line up for our autumn programme of public art! 

Culture Night Promo 1 (1)

Robert Hais is the recipient of the Unexpected Spaces Residency Award and will be creating a new edition of his animated Exitman video installation specifically for Killeagh Village. This residency is supported by Cork County Council’s Arts Grant.

Meet Robert on Culture Night September 20th from 7-9pm and learn about his process for creating the work. He wants to hear what’s on your mind to inform the shape the animation will take.

Thanks to Creative Ireland, we’ll be offering workshops for adults, teens and families in October. Unexpected Spaces Poster

Yarn Bombing Crochet Workshop
Workshops kick off on Thursday October 3rd with a two-part Yarn Bombing Crochet Workshop (second session Thursday October 10th) from 7-9:30pm (€20 for both sessions). Learn to make granny squares, pom-poms and other small shapes for installation in a public place in Killeagh village. Beginners and experienced crocheters welcome!

Booking on Eventbrite.

Street Art Workshop for Teens
On Saturday the 5th and Sunday the 6th of October we have a Street Art Workshop for secondary school students. It’s an opportunity for young people to voice what’s on their mind and share these thoughts with the community by respectfully making a mark on the village. They’ll learn to make moss graffiti, pastables and stenciled artworks. From 11am – 3pm, Bring a packed lunch, €30.  

Booking on Eventbrite.

Framing the Landscape
Last but not least, we have a really special opportunity for families to create a public art work with on Sunday October 13th from 2-5pm. In this hands-on afternoon inspired by the work of Unexpected Spaces public art resident Robert Hais, we will playfully explore what we see and how we look at the world around us. We’ll make a temporary exhibition in Killeagh village.

Booking on Eventbrite.

If you have any questions, or can’t book online, just drop us a line at or ring 083 845 1750. 

Poetry Workshop

with Supriya Kaur Dhaliwal
Tuesday September 3rd
7pm – 9:15pm  €10
To Book:  or  083 845 1750

Poetry workshop web

This workshop is perfect for those at the beginning of their literary journey. Both published poets and poets who haven’t published a single poem before are equally welcome. 

The workshop cultivates a safe space to share your writing, and is an interactive environment for poets to share their thoughts.  Participants are invited to submit a poem prior to the workshop, which will be circulated in advance to the other participants.  

In the first hour, ten to fifteen minutes will be spent with each poem, with the opportunity to share thoughts and suggestions. 

The second half of the workshop is directed towards working with the traditional forms of poetry like sonnets, villanelles, sestinas, pantoums, and ghazals.  Participants will be invited to interact with prompts provided and write poems in their chosen form. 

Supriya Kaur Dhaliwal is a poet and writer from the Himalayan town of Palampur, currently based out of Belfast. She moved to Dublin over two years ago to pursue her MPhil in Irish Writing from Trinity College, Dublin. She has lived in Antwerp, Belgium where she contributed to the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project. She was the Poetry Editor of Trinity College, Dublin’s postgraduate journal College Green and has worked in publishing sector and a photobook library in Ireland. Currently, she is an editor for The Open Ear journal at Queen’s University, Belfast. Supriya is the author of two poetry collections, The Myriad and Musings of Miss Yellow

She has been actively involved in the literary scene in India, contributing to numerous literary carnivals across the country, including Kumaon Literary Festival, where she was the chairperson of Students’ Committee for the year 2015. She helped conducting creative writing workshops on behalf of the poetry group Poets Corner with the children below ten years of age at Village Arohi as a part of this literary carnival. She was also a participant of the Te Aroha Writers’ Retreat (November, 2014) in Dhanachuli, Uttrakhand, a prequel to Kumaon Literary FestivalShe is also associated with the Delhi Poetry Festival. She is the core team member of Poets Corner, a one of a kind poetry collective based out of New Delhi.

Supriya was longlisted for the 2018 Coffeehouse Troubadour Poetry Contest which was judged by Jo Shapcott and Daljit Nagra. She was shortlisted for the Poems for Home Contest for charity organised by an eminent organisation called Shelter which aims at eradicating homelessness. Recently, during October, 2018 Supriya read at the Tanta International Festival of Poetry in Egypt. Supriya’s poems have been translated into Hindi, German, Arabic and Italian. She is currently pursuing her second Masters in Poetry at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queens University, Belfast.