Bealtaine

By Aisling • • 25 May 2020

Currently on display at the Vault Gallery in Jacksonville, Florida

7′ x 3′ x 2′

Steel and Cast Iron

2012

Currently available

Bealtaine is the festival that is held on the cross-quarter day between the spring equinox and the summer solstice.  It is usually celebrated on the night of April 30th to May 1st and it marks the beginning of summer.  The festival is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and talks of the importance of bonfires to bring protection to the herds and homes.  The word Bealtaine translates to Godly Fire and in modern times the festival is known as the Celtic Fire Festival of Bealtaine.

In county Donegal, in the North West of Ireland, there is a stone circle called the Beltany Stone Circle.  It dates between 1400 – 800 BC and is comprised of 64 standing stones still standing.  A singular triangular stone is widest of the stones and in located in the east-north-east side of the circle.  This stone is decorated with cupmarks and lies directly across from the tallest of the stones.  On the cross-quarter day of Bealtaine, the morning of May 1st, when you stand in this alignment, the sun rises on the tip of the triangular stone. 

This sculpture, titled “Bealtaine”, is inspired by this ancient festival.  It consists of two standing stone forms, one tall and one short, both triangular.  The interior of these stones displays the warm colors of a glowing fire.  The cast iron circle on top echoes the layout of the Beltany Stone Circle, while displaying the interlace knotwork that Ireland is famous for.  When installed in its final location, the sun shall rise through this circle on a date of significance.