Beginnings of Féile
In the aftermath of Internment in August 1971, where hundreds of young men from nationalist and republican communities like West Belfast were imprisoned without trial, there developed a culture of organising local community festivals to celebrate resilience and build a sense of community resistance against often overwhelming odds.
These local féiltí or fléanna tended to be organised in a parish basis and often involved small scale street parties, talent and/or sporting competitions which brought people together in a celebratory manner and in a fun social setting. They also developed into more overt forms of political resistance involving community theatre, political education and social justice campaigning etc. These occasions were developed and conceived through a participatory, bottom-up approach that fostered a philosophy of self-sufficiency and self-help.
In 1988, against the backdrop of violent political turmoil and intense military conflict, which saw the West Belfast community being vilified and demonised by both Government and media, a co-ordinated effort was made by community activists to bring these various Féiltí/Fléanna together under one cohesive and structured umbrella. This was originally named the West Belfast Festival in August 1988 and later Féile an Phobail. This page accounts for the genesis of Féile from the early 1970s.