In Ballina, Co Mayo on the west coast of Ireland, the Friday of the International Workshop is the time for celebration, to mark the 20th anniversary of Taoist Tai Chi in Ireland. The workshop programme, for 145 members from 9 different countries, combines working all together and in small groups, and runs until mid-afternoon. We are reaching out to improve our health.
As preparations get under way for the celebrations, working together turns a task into fun – setting tables, blowing up balloons, and hanging bunting – to transform the rented practice hall into something more like a place of our own.
Nearby, at the place of our own that is the Taoist Tai Chi Centre in Ballina, more bunting and balloons shimmer in the golden evening sunshine. Our home fills with workshop participants, family members, local people and special guests – all getting into a festive mood at our cocktail reception. Thank you, boards and members of the International Taoist Tai Chi Society, for all the cards, flowers and presents from congratulating us on our 20th anniversary.
It’s a short walk down to the River Moy – a great place to do some Taoist Tai Chi outdoors. Ballina seems flooded by us as we do our public display under Tony Kwong’s guidance; traffic passing the cathedral slows down, motorists curious to see the purple-clad tai chi-ers move in unison through two sets; passers-by pausing to watch in silence; the photographer from the Western People newspaper snapping away for a possible photofeature article.
“Cáirde le Chéile”
Friends gather together at our splendid banquet. There is an enthusiastic exchange of Chinese and Irish culture as we are entertained with traditional Irish music and dance by talented local children. Warm greetings are given by Society delegates from 9 different countries, each in their own language. We hear about the history of our Society in Ireland. Together with our guests from the spheres of politics, the church, and health charities, we listen as members give personal testimonials to the value of practising Taoist Tai Chi.
Helping us cut the cake are Senator Michelle Mulherin, the Ballina area’s elected representative to the national parliament, and Sr. Attracta Tighe, Director of the Newman Institute in the Diocese of Killala. Other invited guests include representatives from local diabetes and Parkinson’s support groups.
What a memorable day for all of us!