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Local grassroots community festival holds ‘historic parade’ through the Upper Springfield area

Féile na gCloigíní Gorma Finale organisers recreate historic community parade and ‘stand on the shoulder of giants’ who organised famous 1973 parade

Féile na gCloigíní Gorma 2023, a local festival based in West Belfast and named after the indigenous bluebells that bloom each May on the Black Mountain, brought over a 1000 local people out to parade through the Upper Springfield this morning (20-5-23) and recreated a similar parade organised by community stalwarts like Father Des Wilson, 50 years ago in 1973. Sports clubs and local campaign groups gathered at 9am (20-5-23) this morning at the top of the Whiterock road before parading through down the local community with Brazilian drummers and Chinese dancers in tow.

Describing the event, one of the parade organisers, Eoghan Ó Garmaile, stated:

‘We were delighted to conclude an amazing 8 day Féile with a carnival parade through the Upper Springfield area. Our community is buzzing after our most successful Féile to date which included over 60 packed events that engaged thousands of local people who participated in this year’s programme.  Our great sense of community spirit was palpable as 8 local soccer and GAA clubs marched with the banners and were followed by local campaign groups such as Donate for Daithi, An Dream Dearg and the Ballymurphy and Springhill family campaign groups.’

‘We are standing on the shoulders of those giants like Father Des Wilson who organised a similar parade through the area in a very different context 50 years ago as part of the Upper Springfield Festival in 1973. Back then, these community stalwarts were aiming to raise spirits in light of brutal British military oppression which included internment and the bloody massacres in Ballymurphy and Springhill

‘In 2023, working class communities like ours are suffering from violence of a different kind. The permanent crisis in capitalism which is being described in the mainstream media as a ‘cost of living crisis’ is intensified by crippling government cuts that are forcing people in communities like ours to choose between heating their homes or putting food on the table. We believe that the violence of poverty and exclusion can only be challenged by grassroots community organising from below. Our Féile has aimed to create a sense of community solidarity, resolve and hope in the very challenging circumstances we find ourselves.

‘There is no better way to describe the Féile than the original 1973 Upper Springfield Festival foreword which said “A festival is a very happy event. At times, many of us thought we would never be able to celebrate again […] but people share most in times of trouble […] the festival is a morale booster, a co-operative effort. Those who are together for this festival will stay together for much more to come”.’

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