500 children and adults, many of whom are blind and vision impaired, will take part in a range of home-based physical activities to celebrate 40 years of Vision Sports MayFest across the next week.

Five times Paralympics sprint gold medallist Jason Smyth made his para-athletics debut at MayFest in 2005. By winning the 100m he qualified for and went on to win, his first gold at the European Para-athletics Championships in Finland later that summer.

“Mayfest at ALSAA near Dublin Airport gave me my entry into para-sport,” said Smyth, currently preparing for Tokyo 2020.

“Vision Sports has continuously encouraged and supported me as an athlete. I’m delighted MayFest can continue and help young, and not so young, enjoy the health benefits of exercise.”

Smyth will be the keynote speaker at the closing ceremony of the 40th Anniversary MayFest, which is taking place virtually this year. The closing event will be hosted by Miriam O’Callaghan with Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy and Vision Sports President Michael O’Keeffe.

The first MayFest was held on May 2nd, 1981 with athletics and swimming championships. Since then, various sports – some competitive, some come and try – have been added including football, tandem cycling, golf, walking, judo, para-triathlon, parkrun, yoga, and tug of war.

In 2016 President Michael D. Higgins opened MayFest and launched blind tennis as an additional activity.

“Over 40 years MayFest has been a springboard into sport for thousands of blind and vision-impaired people,” said Aaron Mullaniff, Head of Vision Sports.

“COVID-19 has seriously impacted our members. Recent surveys, conducted by Vision Sports Ireland, showed 75 per cent of our members were unable to meet national recommended guidelines on physical activity during Covid-19, with an alarming 90 per cent reporting their physical activity had been severely limited largely due to the physical and social distancing guidelines restricting the use of guides/pilots for exercise.”

“We are so fortunate to have MayFest, even if it must be home-based this year.”

The 2021 MayFest virtual offering includes family dance, general fitness, nature mindfulness, over-50s movement, nutrition (with Safefood Ireland), turbo training (with Triathlon Ireland), teen fitness, yoga as well as tennis (with Tennis Ireland and Sight and Sound Technology). Also included is a 40k for 40 years walk, run and cycle challenge as well as a parkrun Ireland MayFest (not)parkrun offering.

To attend the virtual Vision Sports Ireland 40th Anniversary MayFest please pre-register at www.visionsports.ie.

Join us on Tuesday when seven-time Paralympian Catherine Walsh will be our guest on the Sport for Business Daily talking about her personal experience of Mayfest.


Vision Sports is one of more than 250+ members of the Sport for Business network of sporting and business organisations working together across a number of key areas.


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