Imbolc Festival 2017 was celebrated on Sunday the 5th February in Cadamstown, County Offaly. It is the 5th year the Slieve Bloom Association has hosted this revived festival.
Imbolc Festival marks the beginning of Spring. It is one of the four Celtic seasonal festivals, the others being Bealtaine, Lughnasadh and Samhain. The Imbolc Festival was revived by the Slieve Bloom Association in 2013. There are many customs associated with Imbolc Festival. The custom associated with the Slieve Bloom is the milking of goats.
On a beautiful Spring afternoon a crowd gathered in Cadamstown before ascending to the Bracket Stones on Spink Hill in the Slieve Bloom Mountains. This year saw an increase in goats battling it out for the much coveted crown and the title of Imbolc Goat 2017. The goats were led on a short hike up Spink Hill. The group was welcomed by Slieve Bloom Association Vice Chairperson, Leo Brophy before he began the milking demonstration followed by a few others who also tried their hand at it.
Imbolc Festival – ‘Rosie’ Crowned ‘Queen of the Mountain’
The honours of crowning the Imbolc Goat for 2017 was left to Mick Dowling and after deliberation ‘Rosie’ was selected as ‘Queen of the Mountain’. Mick, who has a wealth of local history, then spoke about the tradition. On why a goat was used Mick said “It was a very hardy animal. It was able to live on any type of ground. They’d be able to find a bit of grass from 10 miles away.”
He said that people and families would have traveled long distances to get to the festival and that it was also treated as a social gathering. Something, he said, the Slieve Bloom Association was continuing to emulate and was evident in the people who had traveled from all over the midlands.
The gathering descended from Spink Hill and on the way stopped off at The Giant’s Grave which is in Laois but close to the Laois/Offaly border. Mick explained how it was a burial-place for Blahma, a passage tomb made from conglomerate stone, the same type of stone on Spink Hill where the goats are milked. Blahma, though not a giant or large in stature, was a great leader in battle and it’s whom the Slieve Bloom Mountains are named after. Kathleen Culliton, events organiser, thanked Mick and invited everyone back to Dempsey’s in Cadamstown for refreshments, which were kindly sponsored by Carol Nolan TD.
The Slieve Bloom Association would like to thank all those who attended, those who brought their goats, especially Declan O’Farrell. Mick Dowling for his informative talks, Coillte and Johnny Rigney, Carol Nolan and Dempsey’s Pub for refreshments and a big thanks to ‘Rosie’ newly crowned Imbolc Goat for 2017.
A meeting of the Slieve Bloom Association will be held in the Green School, Rosenallis on Thursday 16th February at 8:30pm. Among matters discussed will be the Associations next festival, Bealtaine ‘May Bush’ Festival, which takes place on 30th April in Rosenallis. New members welcome.