Visit Peel for the New Boaldyn Fire Festival!

As we enter the merry month of May we can also welcome an exciting new, free event in Peel, which will bring together a number of Gaelic and Norse traditions in a dramatic and exciting representation entitled the Boaldyn Fire Festival.

Traditionally Manx celebrations would commence at sunset on the eve of May Day and continue between sunrise and sunset on May Day (Boaldyn) itself, with several key observances largely revolving around the expulsion of evil spirits and witches, cleansing of animals and land and the desire of that all important good luck. The element of fire was also a symbolic feature, both here and across Europe, which will be re-introduced by organisers and form a stirring backdrop to the pageant.

This family-friendly event, held in partnership with Hospice Isle of Man, kicks off at 2.00pm on the 6th May at Weatherglass Corner (aka Spit Corner), near the Sailors’ Shelter with music, dancing and plenty of food and drink during the afternoon and early evening. John ‘Dog’ Callister will be on hand to make a simple Crosh Cuirn with which to shun those evil spirits, in exchange for a donation to Hospice, and the Vikings of Mann will be inviting onlookers to join in some fun May games and sports on the shoreline.

Additionally, there’ll be guided tours of Peel from the Sailors’ Shelter led by both Manx and English speakers, as well as the opportunity to listen to some great stories and hear more about Manx May Day customs with local storytellers Cathy Clucas and Sue Woolley.

During the evening a glorious fire show will become the backdrop of a re-enactment of the historical, mock battle between summer and winter. A costumed drama with its roots in an early description written by George Waldron in 1726, it will be preceded by two ‘armies’ heading from Peel Hill and the Creg Malin, converging on the shoreline in preparation for battle. Everyone is invited to gather for the combat, which will be followed by feasting, dancing, drinking and a spectacular firework display to end the day.

Torches (over 16s only) for use in the parade will be available in advance, or up to 7.00pm on the day, from the Peel branch of Hospice Isle of Man, as well as luggage labels from any Hospice shop, upon which relatives and friends will be encouraged to write messages for loved ones, which will be attached to special trees at the May Fire Festival.

Please check the Oie Voaldyn Facebook page for updates and further information about how to get involved on the day, although participants under the age of sixteen will need to be supervised.

Organisers would like to take this opportunity of thanking the Year of Our Island committee, Peel Town Commissioners, Culture Vannin, Hospice Isle of Man, Manx Radio and Cathy Clucas for her invaluable input.

Valerie Caine

© May 2018

(Courtesy of Manx Life)