May Sunday

Celebrating the creativity, history, and ecology of Killeagh.

2021 Festival Page


HISTORY

Glenbower Wood is situated on what used to be the estate of the De Cappell Brooke family in the village of Killeagh, in East Cork. In the 1830s, De Cappell Brooke began making improvements to his home as well as the land surrounding. After the improvements had been completed, De Cappell Brooke invited the entirety of the community to celebrate on the first Sunday in May. This became a yearly event known as May Sunday. It was the only day of the year on which the Wood was open to the public. The date also, perhaps not so coincidentally, coincides with ancient Druid “Fertility Rite” that would have been celebrated on the same date with hopes for a fruitful year and the Feast of Our Lady.

In the 1920s, the festival became very popular, spilling out of the Wood and onto the main street. It was a colourful event which featured music, dancing, food, and many other activities. Unfortunately, in 2001 the festival was unable to proceed due to Foot & Mouth disease. After a nearly 20-year hiatus, Greywood Arts revived some of the May Sunday traditions, placing the emphasis back on the festival’s origin in Glenbower Wood. In 2018, a reimagined version of the festivities celebrated local creativity, history and ecology through a programme devised in collaboration with artists and community groups, and supported by Cork County Council. Building on the success of the revived festival, the activities expanded in 2019 – and in 2020 the festival was once again cancelled – this time due to Covid-19. You can find the 2018 & 2019 programmes archived at www.creativekilleagh.ie

We are delighted to be back in 2021 with the May Sunday Art Trail – once again reimagining what it means to celebrate our locality – but in a safe and socially distant way.