The West’s biggest free family festival, Féile na Tuaithe, returns to the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life in Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co. Mayo on Saturday May 24 and Sunday May 25. The popular festival is supported by Mayo County Council. It returns after a three-year hiatus and is expected to attract up to 20,000 visitors. All attractions, demonstrations and activities at Féile na Tuaithe are a joyful celebration of the countryside and have a direct connection with the Museum’s theme.

Speaking at the launch held at the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life on Tuesday April 1, Raghnall O’Floinn, Director, National Museum of Ireland said: “This launch is the realisation of an ambition of the National Museum of Ireland, and especially its Country Life branch in Turlough Park: reinstating Féile na Tuaithe after an absence of three years. I’m particularly grateful to Mayo County Council for their collaboration – without their support and encouragement, this would not be possible. I also wish to acknowledge the active support of our all our sponsors, without whom we would not be here today: at a local and regional level these include the Connaught Telegraph, Cashin Print, Mid West Radio, Spear Design, the Kodak Shop. The people behind these enterprises typify all that is best in contemporary Irish society, having supported us through thick and thin down the years. I also want to express my gratitude to our new sponsors, Bord Bia and Teagasc, who have come on board this year. I look forward to a successful and enjoyable Féile at the end of May – Guím gach rath ar obair fhoireann Mhúsaem Saol na Tuaithe agus a chomhluadar san Iarthar!”

Mayo County Council is an integral part of bringing Féile na Tuaithe back to the Museum. Peter Hynes, Mayo County Manager commented on the connection. “Mayo County Council is delighted to support this year’s Feile Na Tuaithe taking place in May. We welcome the opportunity to partner with the National Museum to host this event which will attract thousands of visitors to Castlebar and Mayo to enjoy the two day celebration of our Country Life. The inclusion of some of our European member states, through the CINEW (Creative Industry Network European Window) project, embraces and strengthens our relationship with Europe. Having been involved in the national Museum of Country Life project since its inception, I am particularly pleased to see the Museum continue to develop and grow as it has done over the past decade. Its contribution to education and to promotion of the ‘Cultural Life’ of Ireland has been outstanding. As the only National Museum of Ireland facility outside of our Capital, it is an enormous asset for our County and for the West Region.”

As in previous years, contemporary and traditional crafts will be showcased, in demonstrations, workshops and on sale. Food is a central focus of Féile na Tuaithe 2014, emphasising premium quality artisan fare from the region. As well as delicious samples, tempting fare will be on sale, both to enjoy at Féile and to bring home. New this year is a series of food-themed talks in the Museum Galleries and a Meet the Makers section for both food and craft producers.

The extensive museum grounds will be choc-a-bloc with fun and activities for all the family – see beekeepers and a real beehive in operation, take a trip down memory lane with the traditional barrel top wagon, enjoy the infectious enthusiasm of the working gundogs and watch out for those jolly scarecrows – some of them are just a little more alive than you’d expect! Live music from different genres provides a toe tapping backdrop to the best family day out of the summer for everyone from 3 to 103!

Several complementary competitions run in tandem with the festival. In the weeks leading up to Féile, photographers get the chance to send in their photos representing “Echoes of the Past”. Period costume dress is the order of the day for visitors to Féile with prizes for stylish representations of what grandparents and great grandparents would have worn a century ago. Check out Féile na Tuaithe on Facebook and Twitter for more details.

As always, the arts are an important element and the ‘OnSight!’ art project will return to the grounds to complement Féile na Tuaithe. This is a collaborative art project between Mayo Country Council Arts Office, Mayo Arts Squad and the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life. Artists will create site-specific works in the Museum grounds inspired by the Folklife Collection.

Féile na Tuaithe is the perfect opportunity to visit the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Turlough, Castlebar, and learn more about the traditions of bygone days. Entrance to Féile as well as all attractions and demonstrations are free of charge.