Féile na Tuaithe, which takes place Turlough Park, is one of the biggest free family festivals in the west and it returns to the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life outside Castlebar on Saturday May 21 and Sunday May 22 from 12 noon to 5pm both days. Entry and car parking are free of charge and bumper crowds of up to 30,000 are expected over the two day event. All elements in Féile have a direct connection with the exhibitions within the museum itself which showcases traditional country life since the 19th century.
Féile na Tuaithe brings the museum to life, effortlessly connecting with visitors of all ages. The 30 acre (11 hectare ) grounds are full to bursting with the sights and sounds of traditional Irish life, and an exciting programme of entertainment, demonstrations, workshops, music and art for children and adults alike. A dozen live demonstrations showcase a living history of strong Irish craft traditions ranging from the absorbing crafts of weaving, woodturning and wool dying, blacksmithing and bushcraft, bread- and basketmaking, to thatching and strawcraft and the time honoured traditions of the cooper will be on display.
Vintage farm machinery and a visit to the Animal Village with horses, cows, donkeys, blackface sheep, pigs, and poultry, provide a glimpse into agricultural history, while the farrier shoes horses and donkeys live on site. It is a wonderful opportunity for younger visitors to get up close with the sights and sounds of a traditional farmyard. The drop-in Farm Animal Art Project, in the Family Village behind the Victorian Glasshouse, has plenty to keep little fingers and imaginations busy.
Woodland trails full of mythical creations and large-scale artwork provide a perfect reason to explore the museum’s beautiful, extensive grounds, and then continue that exploration within the museum’s galleries.
Younger visitors can enjoy hands-on art and craft activities, face painting and traditional games, and the craft and food villages provide exceptional opportunities for a bit of shopping and perhaps an outdoor meal enjoyed alongside a live performance from one of the musical acts in the entertainment village. Music, dance and the arts were a very important part of country life in Ireland and play a significant role at Féile na Tuaithe. The joyful sound of music spilling out from the entertainment village on the front lawn always gathers a crowd. Acts over the weekend include The Murphy Sisters and the Clew Bay Pipe Band. Children will love the interactive performance with the Whistleblast Quartet and the flying feet of sean nós dancer Liam Scanlon. Watch everyone’s toes start tapping!
Over the last few years food has become a very significant part of Féile. As well as the established Food Village featuring a selection of wonderful artisan producers, the catering (hot food ) area includes cookery demonstrations from chefs including multi-award winning Áine Maguire from The Idle Wall restaurant. Polish up your seafood skills at the BIM demos or meet the meat experts showcasing free range velvet pork from Andarl Farm and De Búrca Butchers. Find out all about baking with traditional Cuinneog Buttermilk from Cafe Rua in Castlebar. Drop over and see Féile’s very own master chefs sharing their tricks and secrets with the audience.