Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Feile an Phobail - West Belfast 5th-12th August 2007

As featured in the podcast this week the Feile is a vibrant part of Ulster's cultural fabric. The idea behind this festival (Europe's largest) is to promote West Belfast to an international audience and celebrate the creativity of the local people.

The events bring great acts to Belfast and also promote local talent.
One of the Feiles great strengths is its diversity. From the "Trad Fest" which features sessions from Belfast's traditional Irish musicians to a celebratation of " 30 Years of Belfast Punk" at the Duke of York on August 7th the richness of Belfast's grass roots culture is highlighted.

For me one of the most interesting aspects of the Feile are the debates which take place in the heart of the community rather than the arid confines of the TV studio. On Wednesday 8th August "West Belfast talks back" will kick off at 7.30pm at St Louise's Comprehensive College. This year panellists range from the DUPs Edwin Poots to Catorina Ruane from Sinn Fein

While the Feile promises to be great craic, I think it also opens up a debate as to how people here celebrate their identity. Is the dream of a festival were Irish dancers and flute bands play together that bizarre? I would argue that instead of seeing ourselves as two tribes we should recognise that we are one people and that the "Orange" and "Green" traditions must come together if this country is to have a future.

But enough debate! This week whether your Irish, British, Ulster-Scots or "Norn-Iron" get yourself up the West and lets hope the sun stays out.
If you see me up there mines a Guinness!

By Leonard Johnston

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