Sun Shines on Record Breaking MayFest
MayFest, an annual multi-sport activity weekend for people who are blind and vision impaired, launched on Friday May 26th with the hosting of open water swimming at Clontarf Baths. As the sun set in Clontarf it was to kick-start a magical weekend of sport and physical activity.
MayFest 2023, built on the success of previous years, recorded 391 attendances over the weekend. An increase in attendance on last year’s event, the event provided more opportunities for people who are blind and vision impaired to participate in sports across the weekend.
For the second consecutive year, UCD was the venue for the Saturday main event. Activities were held across the sports grounds from the indoor halls to the astroturf pitches and on to the athletics track. The day kicked off indoors with plenty of activities to elevate the heart rate including rock climbing, rowing, turbo cycling, karate, tennis and golf.
As the schedule progressed, it was out to the sunshine for football, GAA and tandem cycling. The flagship event of the schedule was the hosting of the first vision impaired rugby game to take place in Ireland between Old Wesley RFC and UK side, Harlequins FC. As both sides stood for their respective national anthems and Virgin Media News onsite, it was evident to all present that history was about to be made. The atmosphere pitch side was electric, with the magnitude of the occasion evident to all in attendance.
The day concluded with two sports that have a long history in Vision Sports – athletics and swimming. First up it was ‘Back to the Track’, where 30 years after hosting the European Blind Athletics Championships at UCD, we were back on the new UCD athletics track to host a Try Track session. It was then off to the pool to cool off for a MayFest Swim Gala to conclude Saturday’s activity schedule and travel to the Talbot Hotel, Stillorgan for some celebrations.
At the social gathering on Saturday evening in attendance were many Vision Sports Ireland members as well as friends from Ukraine and Harlequins FC. Here the Vision Sports Ireland Youth Forum presented to the audience on their “Get Active Everywhere” campaign. On concluding their presentation, Youth Forum members Emma Whelan, Annie Donnelly, Leah Connor and Ciarán O’ Toole received a standing ovation from all in attendance – it is safe to say the future of Vision Sports Ireland is in safe hands.
On Sunday it was off to Dun Laoghaire and Cork for more adventures and sports. Dun Laoghaire was the venue where the sun was once again shining for yoga and stand-up paddle boarding, both new activities for MayFest and proved very popular with all participants.
The final activity of the day was our satellite event at MTU Cork where a Blind Football Come and Try Session was hosted. It was wonderful to have new members attend and try blind football for the first time.
Pádraig Healy, Vision Sports Ireland National Sports Development Manager stated “we are overwhelmed with the positive feedback to date on MayFest 2023, this event is part of the fabric of Vision Sports Ireland as this was the 42nd edition of MayFest. Our small but ambitious team set themselves the goal to make this the largest MayFest to date and they certainly delivered. There were new activities introduced such as open water swimming, vision impaired GAA, karate and the Power Tower Challenge, as well as the return of the ever popular rock climbing, golf and rowing to name just a few. On the day the vision impaired rugby game was a huge success and to host such an historical event as part of MayFest was extraordinary. We are grateful to our NGB partners who supported the event and continue to collaborate with us to make their sports accessible to adults and children who are blind or vision impaired. At Vision Sports our priority is always to educate and provide opportunities for all our members to access physical activity in their area. MayFest allows us to increase awareness of what’s available and also provides a welcome opportunity for members to connect and socialise.”