Feile An Phobail Hits 20 With An Impressive Cast

Feile an Phobail celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year with probably the most impressive line up to date, starting this Saturday and running until the 10th August. The Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Ardal O’Hanlon, Brian Kennedy, The 4 of Us, Robert Ballagh, Tom Hayden, Nuala O’Loan, Gillian Slovo, Michael Patrick McDonald, Geraldine Hughes, Kathy Sinnott and Ronan Bennett are the headlining acts and speakers, though there are many, many more impressive acts, dramas and exhibitions to cater for all. Events have been organised for across west Belfast but also the City Centre, with a special marquee at Bank Street hosting a number of concerts.

The Discussions and Debates aspect of the Feile is usually very popular, and this year should be no different. Tom Hayden will be speaking on the theme of ‘The Lessons of ‘68’, whilst former UDA leader, Billy McQuiston and former IRA leader, Seanna Walsh, will also participate in a Questions and Answers session following the screening of a film portraying the lives of both individuals. The ‘West Belfast Talks Back’ Panel this year will include Nelson McCausland, Dawn Purvis and Martin McGuinness, with Sean Crummy (voice of Folks on the Hill) providing a warm-up session for the crowd and the BBC’s William Crawley chairing the discussion.
The old favourites will return as usual: Ivan Little with his “My Kind of People” talent show and the annual Guider Race amongst them, whilst traditional Irish Session musicians will be boarding buses on set days throughout the week to provide music for passengers.
Helicopter rides over the city have been organised from the Falls Park for the opening Day (Saturday 2nd August) and there will be a ‘Celtic Village Experience’ series of workshops, story-telling and enactments culminating in a re-enactment of the ‘Cattle Raid of Cooley.’ While Tom Hartley may not be available to provide his usual Cemetery Tours, a special Tour of the Jewish Burial Ground has been organised as part of the Feile.
Of course, ‘The Feile’ has developed as an outward expression of the strongly nationalist/ republican identity and ethos of its host community and of that community’s desire to move past the era of commemorative internment bonfires and develop something more positive and inclusive. There are many events and exhibitions which seek to explore, challenge and celebrate that identity, in addition to the many which are simply about providing an opportunity for children and adults alike to have fun during the week-long festival.

  • RepublicanStones

    I have my tickets to the FLC’s at Andytown leisure centre. Should be a great gig, pity its a Sunday night though.

  • LURIG

    What’s the ticket situation like for ‘Talkback’ & the Comedy nights. The usual story is that’s it’s only for the ‘beautiful’ people and that the ordinary folk don’t stand a chance of tickets. I have heard this in past festivals.

  • Dee

    Tickets are easier to get than they were 5-6 years ago when you had to have served a minimum of 5 years on terrorism charges.

  • There was never any problem getting tickets for Féile. They were always distributed on a first come first served basis and they were inexpensive, unlike tickets for Stormont gigs for instance which were exorbitant and which were distributed among the repressors like confetti. Dee should decommission her snideness.

  • nectar

    Top class line up my arse if this is the best that this lasy sf festival i would give it up now lads. 🙂

  • nectar

    Sorry that should say if that is the best that this lazy sf festival can get i would give it up now lads.

  • POL

    #

    Top class line up my arse if this is the best that this lasy sf festival i would give it up now lads. 🙂
    Posted by nectar on Jul 31, 2008 @ 08:51 AM

    Beats the orange hate fest.No diamond dan, just good wholesome entertainment without sectarian baggage.You should try it sometime instead of sniping from the sidelines.All are welcome regardless of religion,race,sexual orientation or political beliefs.

  • Mayoman

    Good luck to everyone involved! Feck the begrudgers.

  • nectar

    Beats the arse out of orangehatefest obviously your not secterian then.
    As for the West Belfast Feile a shite uninspired festival with no real quality acts ffs Fun loving criminals big in the mid 90`s though well suited to West Belfast.
    At least the good people of west belfast can take a helicopter ride over West Belfast i bit that will be fun…

  • Seimi

    Why the vitriol, nectar? Have you ever actually participated in ANY of the Féile events over the years?

  • POL

    #

    Beats the arse out of orangehatefest obviously your not secterian then.
    As for the West Belfast Feile a shite uninspired festival with no real quality acts ffs Fun loving criminals big in the mid 90`s though well suited to West Belfast.
    At least the good people of west belfast can take a helicopter ride over West Belfast i bit that will be fun…
    Posted by nectar on Jul 31, 2008 @ 09:57 AM

    Obviously i`m not sectarian, what about you though.Any good acts in loyalist areas this summer…Screwdriver perhaps lol.Like i said though, all welcome.

  • brendan,belfast

    Funny line at the end of this contribution Conchubar,

    “…unlike tickets for Stormont gigs for instance which were exorbitant and which were distributed among the repressors like confetti. Dee should decommission her snideness.”

    looks like snideness is spreading.

  • Driftwood

    Surely the Army could get involved with Lynx trips up to Divis mountain.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    Should be a great public festival with the ceol, caint agus craic! Good stuff having the open public debates too! Everyone shoud partake rather than give out about it!

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    Sadly, the festival is dying on its arse. That is a piss poor line-up and Father Ted may be with the angels but Ardal O’Hanlon’s stand-up died on its arse quite some time ago.

    Some people are ‘boxed off’ of course but what festival doesn’t do that. I’d hardly call them the Beautiful People though. That introduces levels of glamour that few in the area possess.

    Funding was a major issue – it still is – and with the Shinners now pre-occupied with poncing around in Stormont and eulogising Paisley the general cynicism of ordinary people has affected the response to the Feile. There are no street parties, for example.

    Poor management has been a factor. The attitude of Sinn Fein when the PSNI showed up at Talkback when Donaldson (Jeffrey not Denis) arrived was a disgrace. When they were still to be boycotted and when the Shinners criticised everything about them and criticised any nationalist person or group who had anything to do with them the Feile organisers had a choice: Cancel the show because armed special branch officers were in the hall or carry on regardless. they carried on. Anyone else would have found a republican boycott at their door. It was pure Animal Farm.

    That said, in many ways it pisses over anything else any festival in Northern Ireland attempts. It attracts interesting people and challenges views and even Donaldson (Jeffrey not Denis) gets a warm reception. Would Gerry Adams in Glencairn get the same civilised response (that’s not a rhetorical question). And lots of people from the Shankill and East Belfast attend – often on the QT. So be critical of the quality (it is a shite line-up) but not too critical of the ethos as nothing else (in such an area) touches it. Feile should be supported but it is poor and getting poorer.

    FLC are a parody of themselves and hardly reflect current trends. They had two advantages over other acts though. They are cheap and they are available.

  • Fun Loving Criminals? Was this group formerly known as Banned On The Runs?

  • DK

    Maybe there should be a Continuity Feile an Phobail

  • Moochin Photoman

    Best festival in town is the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival
    First two weeks in May combined with the Festival of Fools for the first week it is THE festival that pisses on all of the rest of them.

  • gram

    Would it not be better pooling the resources of the Queens, Feile and Cathedral dfestivals and have one proper one like Edinburgh.

  • Grassy Noel

    Gram – you talk sense… now leave these pages and don’t come back!

    *I’ve been saying the same for years*

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    Moochin Photoman: You missed this qualifier in my post “in such an area”.

    CQAF is good but hardly happening in an impoverished working class area that is seen as politically contaminated.

  • Vincent Parker (management cmtte – Feile an Phobai

    Festivals all over Europe have been put under pressure by the increasing number of events and resulting competition in attracting musical acts(several festivals folded this year and many had difficulty selling tickets). The Feile has done a brilliant job in attracting a great line up, and remember it is also running in competion for ticket sales with the urban arts trans festival in Belfast and the upcoming Belsonic in custom house square (both great line-ups), and with other events over the coming 2 weeks. However, the Feile is not just about music. It is about a community driven ethos, hence the price of all music events is much less than they would be at commercial rates, and all of the discussions and debates are free of charge. The feile has many community street events, and anybody who bothers to look at the programme can see the huge number of events happening across west belfast. It is true that street parties no longer happen, because these started to become an excuse for drunkeness and the focus has moved to child friendly events in communities. This year the Feile has, in addition to the main venue of A/Town leisure centre, errected a Marquee in Bank Square(beside Kellys), for 3 music events (Neville Staples from the Specials, The 4 of Us and trad band Flook. This adds to the already bustling programme.

    With regard to begrudgers. We all have rose tinted memories when looking back on previous festivals, and as good as the acts on the back of a lorry at springhill were, the festival and the community have moved on. It is a more professional operation and the fact that it is still going after 20 years, is a testament to the hard work of the all the staff and management and volunteers, past and present who have been associated with Feile.

    With regards tickets.. its simple. You can book online at http://www.feilebelfast.com or call the ticketline on 90313440.

    For information: Ardal O’Hanlon in A/Town Lesuire centre and Brian Kennedy at Clonard Monastry are both Sold Out.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Vincent

    Thanks for that post. The Feile has evolved, like all good things, and I for one welcome that (though still fondly remember the Marxman concert in Springhill!)

    Glad I booked my parents’ Kennedy in Clonard tickets online two weeks ago or I needn’t have shown my face at home for a while.

    Keep up the good work and enjoy the week.

  • Dee

    Last time i checked i was most definitely male. Im also from West Belfast and have been going to the feile for years and its well known that most of the big events in the past were ‘sold out’ before they were even announced. Michael Moore would be a good example and i remember brush shiels gig that was similar. They have always sorted out their own, its only now they think the festival is on the european calender than theyve tried to make more of an effort.

    And by They i mean the bunch of clowns formely known as the IRA. Couldnt organise a revolution and certainly cant organise a fesitval 🙂

  • kensei

    Vincent

    I appreciate the difficulty but music is definitely one of the weaker parts of the lineup, especially in comparison to say, the literally and debate programme. There are a ton of up and coming acts about even if you just look within Ireland. Rather than pull in a few big acts, I’d prefer if you managed a lot of smaller acts and ran an “up and coming” music programme throughout the week. The trick id to find who will be really big next year, or the year after.

  • slug

    The festival is definitely a good thing for people in West Belfast and further afield and Vincent and his committee deserve a lot of credit for the work that they do. Its hard work to run a festival and all the festivals find funding hard.

  • Paul McMahon

    First time in twenty years that I won’t be at the Festival ‘sniff’

    No doubt that the Festival has come a long way from The Century Steel Band on the back of a lorry in the corrugated iron compound in Springhill, [also remember Marxman Chris, brilliant gig around ’94 I think], However just a few, [hopefully constructive], criticisms .

    IMO It’s true that the Festival has by and large lost its community ethos. The final Saturday night folk/ presentation night in the Whiterock Leisure Centre, for example, was a true reflection of the WB community,[ and for me the highlight of the Festival], sadly now no more.

    It’s true that the street parties gave SOME an excuse for drunkenness but from Divis St to Twinbrook it also gave the residents of WB a sense of ownership in that they had a stake in the Festival by organising these events which were included officially in the programme.

    For me the most noticeable event that brought this home though,[’98 I think it was], was the outdoor Brian Kennedy – Shane Magowan outdoor gig bt Beechmount LC. For the first time it was a £10 entrance fee, prior to this all gigs were £5-£7, which was publicised as a one off fee. Now £10 – £12 is the norm.

    I recognise of course that Feile an Phobaill has massive overheads but WB people aren’t millionaires and this was the point where I felt it was directed more towards the “visiting” audience.

    On the point of tickets being for the “beautiful” people. The only Feile event that I have ever been refused entrance to was the ‘WB Talks Back’ event with Jeffery Donaldson and the only reason that I was refused entrance was because I misjudged the size of the audience and arrived later than I should. Re the Michael Moore gig, this was advertised as a free event on Triple FM with a limited number of free tickets available. I didn’t get a free ticket but on the day of the gig I heard that a further 200 tickets were being released I went down, stood in line at the Marquee and got three tickets ,and no, I’m not one of the ‘beautiful people’. I also remember some work colleagues of mine from loyalist areas discreetly asking me to get them tickets for the Status Quo gig. I did and they went and had a smashing time.

    So, take no heed of the begrudgery go to the Festival and have a great time,[ I personally recommend Neville Staples and the free debates are what I’ll miss most although I’m disappointed that there is no punk night as there was at the Duke of York last year], I just hope that you can cope with the hangover for the next four days after it finishes.

  • iluvni

    “The ‘West Belfast Talks Back’ Panel this year will include Nelson McCausland, Dawn Purvis and Martin McGuinness”

    Good God, could you imagine anything worse than a night out listening to that.

  • susan

    Best wishes to the participants and organisers of this year’s Feile. Twenty years!

    kensei makes an excellent point about music. It’s a fine art to find a balance between the big (well, biggish?) names and the up and comers, the crowd pleasers and the cutting edge. At least now with the internet, you can scout out the rosters of successful music festivals in Galway, Edinburgh, Sweden, Serbia and the US without overspending.

  • susan

    #

    “The ‘West Belfast Talks Back’ Panel this year will include Nelson McCausland, Dawn Purvis and Martin McGuinness”

    Good God, could you imagine anything worse than a night out listening to that.
    Posted by iluvni on Jul 31, 2008 @ 04:31 PM

    Yes, I can imagine something worse. It involved something called “liturgical dance,” and men were wearing “praise pants.”

    Incidentally, Tony Joe White plays Dublin September 16.

  • There is one category of speaker that the Feile doesn’t want and that is the writer who grew up in a republican community but doesn’t buy the message.

    It doesn’t matter how many books you have published.

  • Vincent

    kensei,Susan,

    Point taken. It is difficult to balance the “up and coming acts” with the more established, to please everyone, and at a cost that the feile can afford. It is truly astounding the figures that current popular acts are charging for gigs over the summer festival period. We have to deal with availablilty, costs, and a host of other factors and the feile staff, who work all year round on building contacts and running the several events that feile are involved with, do a great job in securing the best artists available within the tight budget allocation.

    This year we have several up and and coming bands with The Vals, Delirium Tremors and Kellys Heroes in the Duke for York. The international night has Havanna Son, and Max Pashm, and supporting FLC is Ham Sandwich, whose first album is a cracker and they are critically acclaimed across Ireland and further afield. The problem is getting the mix, so that everyone enjoys the events. The Marquee is an new feature has has lots of potential as a venue to showcase artists that would attract a smaller crowd 200-250), with the leisure centre being the center-piece of the feile activity for larger crowds of well known artists, etc. You can never please everyone, but the organisers and staff have done a great job.

  • BfB

    Tom Hayden?
    Is this anything like a San Francisco type event?
    Not that there’s any thing wrong with that…..

    Adults over here stopped listening to him after he married that traiterous b@@ch, whatshername.

  • Amazing isn’t it that the same Adults have tuned into CNN in their millions after the founder and owner of that station, Ted Turner, married Jane Fonda.

    And I don’t see many Americans out on the streets calling for the return of the good old days of the Vietnam War. Arguably it was the likes of Richard Nixon who were the real traitors and Fonda the patriot.

    And yes Tom Hayden was and is a true American patriot, unlike you and your ‘adult’ friends.

  • pfhl

    whats the point of a festival? Could we not all just march up and down the falls with a few banners some commemerating IRA men of course. we could have big bonfires all over the city the night before with loads of underage drinking and hopefully a few paramilitary displays. We could throw a few union jacks on top of the fires as well. Maybe put FTQ on them although im sure it could be interchanged to suit other heads of churches. We can not forget to add in some sectarian signing as well.

  • paddyjoe

    not invited malachy? maybe they hear you on talkback. thats enough for anybody. do you think you are so important you have to be invited. megalomaniac

  • BfB

    And yes Tom Hayden was and is a true American patriot, unlike you and your ‘adult’ friends.

    Of course he is there Connie, of course he is.

    CNN…adults? Read some non-fiction.
    The highest rated CNN show is effin Larry King!!
    Yeesh..

  • I think you’re backing the wrong horses Bfb in the patriotism stakes. For my money, the US needs more Tom Haydens and less George Bushes and his kafkaesque Patriot Act.

  • POL

    #

    Tom Hayden?
    Is this anything like a San Francisco type event?
    Not that there’s any thing wrong with that…..

    Adults over here stopped listening to him after he married that traiterous b@@ch, whatshername.
    Posted by BfB on Jul 31, 2008 @ 06:39 PM

    Is Tom Hayden not the 60s-70s American anti-war and civil rights activist.

  • kensei

    Vincent, susan

    I appreciate the difficulty. I think part of what you should be aiming for is a reputation for showcasing new acts. If you could build a thread for the festival with a bit of a rep, then a little prestige would probably help with the cash. I appreciate that’s a very hard task, though.

    And if you can, get Glasvegas for something. They are awesomeness :P.

  • Moochin Photoman

    Funnily enough i saw Ham Sandwich at this years Cathedral Quarter and they are very very good
    As regards billie joes remark, true that the CQAF isn’t in a “contaminated are” a but it has been liberal in it’s marking of the boundary holding events which strictly speaking aren’t in the designated area namely the Front Page but the neutrality of the city centre and the diversity and quality of it’s acts has marked it out as a cut above the rest. It’s outreach programme has certainly opened up new opportunities for some that would not have previously been available.
    That said good luck with this years festival….
    I think its an interesting move to have a marquee in Bank square bringing the festival to the city centre.
    Talking of Bank Square it’s about time the Council pulled it’s finger out and turned it into a street trading market, it would make sense to stream folk in from Berry Street but perhaps it too would be seen as a politically contaminated area tho it’s probably contaminated by all the street drinkers pish!!!

  • An Amateur Anthropologist

    Congratulations to the Feile organisers for yet another inspiring line-up. In particular, I think that you’ve got the balance right between the different types of events (musical, literary, political, community), and I’m sure that the festival will be a huge success.

    Speaking as a trustee of a similar but smaller festival in England, I’d say that the Feile was an inspiration.

  • Dewi
  • susan

    Viva, Glasvegas, kensei, and again, very best wishes to all associated with this year’s Feile.
    happ
    Vincent and Amateur Antrholopologist are quite right pointing out that the expense and organisation involved are beyond most of our imaginings.

    And Vincent, despite my snide remark about “liturgical dance,” I was genuinely so glad to see this year’s event includes a hip hop contest. Someone on this island has got to liberate dance beyond little girls in wigs and spray on tans and jewel-encrusted, mirrored dresses doing slip jigs for ossified judging panels.

    Maybe one of your scouts could attend Galway’s salsa fest this autumn, and scout out some amazing, affordable acts. Few things are as subversive as joy. Free their hips, and the rest will follow!

  • ggn

    Good luck to everyone involved with the Féile.

    I would say f**k the begudgers but there is no need, the sight of people dancing singing and laughing is enough to send them into the depths of depression.

  • BfB

    Is Tom Hayden not the 60s-70s American anti-war and civil rights activist.

    Ya, a communist, socialist bastard “civil rights” activist, the civil rights ‘activist’ movement responsible for the destruction of anything civil in the USA…
    That’s him.

  • Ya, a communist, socialist bastard “civil rights” activist, the civil rights ‘activist’ movement responsible for the destruction of anything civil in the USA…
    That’s him.

    You mean like racial segregation?

    You would do well to remember to keep a civil tongue in your own head. I suggest if you want to call Tom Hayden or anybody else names such as the b-word, you should do it to their face and under your own name rather than cowering behind a pen name.

  • Jamesy.

    Dee, I for one am a member of Sinn Fein and also got turned away for tickets because none were available when I enquired about them – a non %Republican friend of mine was luckier. You have to realise that Michael Moore etc coming to the Feile are in such demand that everyone wants to see them – therefore some of us lose out.

    There’s no need to be so bitter about things, and besides, events like the 1791 rebellion tours are so much more interesting and so easy to get to because all the fair-weather supporters can’t be arsed due to the lack of big names attending.

    ps Billie Joe – the Donaldson issue was nothing to do with the police, but the armed guard that was also there. Somebody made a death threat beforehand (could have been anyone) and people were nervours about guns being present. Couldn’t imagine Gerry Adams being able to attend the Shankill festival and get out unscathed, could you?

  • BfB

    Ya connie.. racial segregation, and murdering the indians and all that red herring bull. Get a life.