Frances McDormand in Nomadland, which will be screened at Ballina Arts Centre on May 9 as part of their Bealtaine Festival events.

Bealtaine Festival events at Mayo arts centre

May is here and with it comes bluebells, sunshine and Ballina Arts Centre’s contribution to the Age & Opportunity’s Bealtaine Festival – Ireland’s month-long national celebration of the arts and creativity as we grow older.

The Ballina Arts Centre programme kicks off on Monday next, May 9, with Nomadland, directed by Chloe Zhao, who won an Oscar as best director for this beautiful, quiet portrait of the lives of America’s older transients who choose the open road, the huge skies and their small mobile spaces for life out of the mainstream.

After the 2008 financial collapse, widowed Fern (Frances McDormand), a former substitute teacher, finds herself forced out of her home in Empire, Nevada, when the local US Gypsum plant closes the mine and, with it, the town. Faced with a bleak economic future, she crams her scanty belongings into a beat-up second-hand van and hits the road, travelling from town to town, state to state, in search of work. Along the way she meets many kindred spirits: silver-haired, fellow modern-day nomads whose entire generation suffered the same crippling economic blow.

Featuring real-life nomads drawn from Jessica Bruder’s original book, this glimpse of hardship, the gig economy, and also love, fortune and kindness make for an unforgettable cinema experience.

Nomadland will be screened next Monday at 1 p.m. at Ballina Arts Centre. Admission is free but booking is essential.

The following Monday (May 16), the director of Ballina Arts Centre, Sean Walsh, will give a guided tour of TOUCHABLE, an exhibition by Caren van Herwaarden.

Caren’s watercolors, drawings, collages and sculptures explore the meaning of humanity, physicality, suffering and eroticism. The artist finds strength in vulnerability, softness in mercilessness and comfort in dejection. Her works are often a tangle of humans and horses; she views the naked animal without embellishment. In conflict situations where there is no control and the world is no longer socially engineered, her work suggests that we are all dependent on others.

The TOUCHABLE Gallery Tour will take place on Monday, May 16, at 1 p.m. at Ballina Arts Centre. Admission is free but booking is essential.

On Monday, May 23, Ballina Arts Centre is showing The Secret Scripture, Jim Sheridan’s adaption of Sebastian Barry’s acclaimed novel.

The elderly Rose (the inimitable Vanessa Redgrave) is the last patient remaining in a psychiatric hospital, firmly refusing to transfer to another facility. Dr. William Grene (Eric Bana) is called in, and his sympathetic approach leads Rose to recount the story of how, as a young woman (Rooney Mara) in Sligo, she met and fell in love with Michael McNulty (Jack Reynor), arousing the jealousy of the local priest (Theo James), whose obsessive love for her led to her ruination. This is a touching and poignant story, underpinned by anger at Rose’s treatment and that of so many women of her time.

The Secret Scripture will be screened on Monday, May 23, at 1 p.m. in Ballina Arts Centre. Admission is free but boooking is essential.

Finally, on Monday, May 30, Ballina Arts Centre will host Marianne Heemskerk’s introduction to printmaking workshop, aimed at older people. Under Marianne’s guidance, participants will be learning techniques of drypoint and carborundum on aluminium plates, and monoprinting. They will work from their own designs and experiment with print techniques and colour. Materials will be included, and no previous experience is required.

Marianne is a locally-based visual artist. Originally from Holland, she has been living in Ireland for many years and has extensive experience in the practice and teaching of printmaking. She has exhibited widely in Ireland and her work is in a number of public and private collections.

The workshop will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (with a break for lunch) on Monday, May 30, at Ballina Arts Centre. Admission is free but booking is essential.

Booking for all events can be be secured by calling Ballina Arts Centre on (096) 73593. Find out more at