May Sunday Art Trail 2021

Jump to the full press release below.

Photo credit: Sarah Kate Murphy
Eye Spin 2 – Sarah Buckley

Willow Lanterns – Caoimhe Dunn
Poster – Landscape
Poster – Square


May Sunday Art Trail: May 1-9th in Glenbower Wood, Killeagh

Covid restrictions inspire a fresh approach to a traditional festival. 

Killeagh’s May Sunday Festival began nearly 200 years ago, but in 2021 it will be celebrated like never before. Despite the challenges imposed by a pandemic, the May Sunday Festival is determined to celebrate Killeagh’s creativity, history and ecology. Local non-profit Greywood Arts has returned the festival to its roots in Glenbower Wood this year, where they are orchestrating an art trail showcasing artists from Cork and works made by community groups. This outdoor celebration of place can be experienced at a safe social distance by visitors to the wood May 1-9th. 

There will be opportunities for the community to get involved in the art-making through online workshops and tutorials. Villagers are invited to mine their recycling bins for materials to make chimes and garlands to contribute to artist Aoife Banville’s Folly Project. A willow lantern making workshop with Caoimhe Dunn will yield luminous creations that nod to the traditional torch light procession. Families can make their own make their own May Bushes in the virtual company of others, guided by artist Lisa Cliffe. And on Thursday April 28th, a workshop marking Poetry Day Ireland will lead to the creation of a “poem-tree” in the wood.

Themes emerging in the 10 installations range from playfully distorting the viewer’s perception, to raising awareness of waste generation, to the juxtaposition of domestic or man-made objects with the natural environment. While these main works will be installed for nine days, a pop-up exhibition of two-dimensional work by local artists will take place on May Sunday (May 2nd), along with a promenade performance (at a distance) by Tom Campbell and Noelle O’Reagan – a duo most notably seen on Britain’s Got Talent. On Sunday May 9th, the festival comes to a close with a litter-pick organised by Glenbower Wood and Lake.  

The 6th class students at St. Fergal’s NS are working with Aoife Banville to create two follies from recycled materials – turning waste into beautiful works of art. The Monday Club active retired group have been invited to get in on the fun, and the tutorial is available on the festival website: for anyone who would like to take part.

The artists creating installations are: Aoife Banville (Shanagarry), Sarah Buckley (Mallow), Natasha Burke (Cork), Martha Cashman (Youghal/Cork), Jaki Coffey (Castlemartyr), Richard Forrest (Youghal), Rob Ireson (Whitegate), Danny McCarthy (Midleton), and Rob Monaghan (Cork). 

Greywood Art’s artistic director Jessica Bonenfant says “We hope the art trail will offer a bright spot on the horizon after a difficult year. We’re eager to engage with art in physical spaces and feel a cultural event like this has an invaluable impact for our community.”  

The first Sunday in May has been Killeagh’s festival day since the de Capell Brooke family opened their estate to the villagers for music and dancing in the 1830s. This date is very likely linked to traditional Bealtaine or May Day celebrations. Glenbower, the ancient native woodland that was private for centuries, is now partially owned by the community and managed by the voluntary Glenbower Wood & Lake committee. 

The Art Trail is presented by Greywood Arts with support from Glenbower Wood & Lake Ltd. and Cork County Council. Contact: Jessica Bonenfant 083 845 1750,