Spring has sprung and a new Munster festival promises to celebrate its arrival with gusto, says Eve Kelliher.
The noticeably brighter, longer days are putting a spring in everyone’s step — and for some they’re even calling to mind ancient Celtic rituals that unfolded at this time of year in times gone by.
Step forward Kerry druids Jan and Karen Tetteroo, based in Glenflesk, who got in the spirit of things recently.
Decked out in full regalia, they unveiled details of a new date for the Munster diary, the Wander Wild Festival.
Jan and Karen, druids of the Grove of Anú, launched the event in the shadow of the peaks known as the Papa of Anú.
Anú, a Celtic earth goddess, has particular associations with the province: the Paps of Anú (Dá Chích Anann or the breasts of Anu), are named after this ancient deity.
Also known as Ana, Danu and Annan, Anú was a mother or earth deity, as well as the goddess of prosperity, death and cattle.
As a nature deity, she was associated with agriculture, wind, wisdom, fertility and regeneration.
While scaling mountains may not be for everyone, most of us are by now at least inching our way back into the garden — and the more daring, of course, might just be tempted well beyond that fence.
Looking for inspiration as to what’s available on your own doorstep? Then this new festival will plant the seeds of ideas for outdoor escapades of all kinds.
Ireland’s adventure capital, Killarney, will be taking a wander on the wild side from March 27 for this spring celebration, aimed at outdoor enthusiasts, culture vultures, foodies and general great escapers.
Running from March 27-29 inclusive — and taking in the vernal equinox — the Wander Wild Festival will embrace the new season with gusto as it celebrates the season with pageantry, fire, passion, drama, adventure and exhibitions.
A spectacular opening equinox parade through the streets will dramatically celebrate the death of winter and the birth of spring and the flickering flame of a new dawn will illuminate the town, promise the organisers.
Compelling storyteller and writer Michael Harding will explore the concept of rituals. Last year Michael published his spellbinding memoir, Chest Pain, which tells how in late 2018, the author was in a hotel room in Blanchardstown when he experienced severe pains in his chest.
He eventually phoned an ambulance and was admitted to hospital, suffering from an acute heart attack.
In Chest Pain, Michael looks at the months before the heart attack when he kept the signs of failing health from his beloved and retreated into solitude — and with his own inimitable humour takes readers with him through the months after a stent had been inserted in his heart.
In the book, Harding tells how he travelled the roads of Donegal in a camper van in a journey back to “the beloved”, and to himself.
Meanwhile, other guest speakers lined up include ultra-athlete Shane Finn, who completed 24 marathons in 24 days and cycled and ran across America in 36 days. Shane will share an account of his experiences in a live podcast.
Film will feature prominently throughout the festival with screenings of several highly regarded productions with a sustainability, adventure or real-life drama theme including The Lost Skytrain, a gripping documentary about the disappearance in 1943 of a Second World War Douglas C-47 plane that was later discovered, with the bodies of five men, by two local farmers on Kerry’s McGillycuddy Reeks.
The action-packed weekend will feature “great escape” events such as guided mountain climbs, kayaking on the lakes, night nature walks and map and compass-reading classes, while there’s also a specific children’s programme.
For the more energetic festival goers there will be separate events to keep them challenged and busy with a park run and a Hardman 10k on the agenda.
“The Wander Wild Festival is a really fantastic opportunity for people to get away for a few days, sample this awe-inspiring area and enjoy this spectacle of outdoor-related festival events,” said organising committee chairman Pat Chawke.