Belfast Mayor Ryan Murphy launches Féile na Carraige 2023

Festival creates ‘organic and creative spaces for the community to come together and think critically’ with international solidarity and decolonisation at its heart

Féile na Carraige was launched in Gael-Ionad Mhic Goill (13-10-23) with Palestinian solidarity flags, designed by young people in the Irish Medium Youth club, adorning the venue in support of the besieged people of Gaza. The packed venue was entertained by Rap Artist and actor Conor Torbitt who did a wonderful rendition of the famous 1893 Dubhghlás de hÍde speech on De-Anglicising Ireland, which was shared to coincide with the 130th anniversary of Conradh na Gaeilge. The launch also heard speeches from Festival organiser Eoghan Ó Garmaile, Belfast Mayor Ryan Murphy and Foras na Gaeilge Community Programme Manager Gearóid Trimble. The event was closed with a moving poem by Nuala Ní Scolláin in honour of recently deceased local language activist, Matt Lundy.

Sólás na nÓg youth leader, Pádraigín Mhic Mhathúna, chaired the launch

Speaking on behalf of the Festival organising committee and Glór na Móna, Eoghan Ó Garmaile stated: 

You will see the colours Green, black, red and white are the dominant colours throughout this year’s festival. This decision was made months ago due to the clear and visible intensification of the occupation and colonisation of Palestine this year – of course mainstream media did not bother to pick this up until last Saturday. Moreover, our scheduled fundraising and celebratory concert on behalf of the Lajee Centre on the West Bank has been rearranged as a public meeting in An Chultúrlann tomorrow night to discuss urgent solidarity actions for the people of Gaza. International solidarity is at the core of Féile na Carraige’s watchwords of ‘Poiltics, Participation and Community’. 

“We aim to provide organic and creative spaces for the community to come together and think critically about how we can self-organise develop alternative ideas that challenge inequality and the denial of dignity to those who need it most.

“To this end, there will be a workshop on language exchange- between Irish and Arabic- in a taster session with asylum seekers and refugees in partnership with PPR on Monday the 16th October at 12pm where ‘cupla focal’ and comparative linguistic histories will be shared. We are delighted to support the bottom-up community campaign ‘A New Script’ for mental health by partnering on a new talk series on well-being that commences with the renowned Critical Psychiatrist Dr Pat Bracken who is travelling from West Cork to share his inspiring philosophy on a more humane approach to Mental Health on Wednesday 18th October in St Comghalls at 12.30pm.

“We are also thrilled that Eoin Ó Broin TD will deliver our annual Harry Holland lecture with our good comrade Seán Byers where we will discuss Ó Broin’s vision for a ‘Transformative housing agenda in a new Ireland on Thursday 19th October here in Gaelionad Mhic Goill. These same sentiments and this decolonising ethos will be on stage at the Féile Gig- along with entertainment and craic- with new and emerging bands, The Shan Vans, the Rapper ‘Torby’, Niamh Nic Ionnrachtaigh and the powerful Seán-Nós singers from South Armagh, Bláithín Mhic Canna and Piaras Ó Lorcáin who will also take to the stage at Gort na Móna CLG on 21 October.”

Speaking on behalf of Foras na Gaeilge, Géaróid Trimble stated:

“Based on your motto ‘Participation, Politics, Community’, Glór na Móna and Féile na Carraige seek to grow the Irish language community in the Upper Springfield who are mobilised, educated, and young.

“This community has a big reputation for the great youth work you do. There is no better example that your other groundbreaking project ‘Sólás na nÓg’ with its own glossy motto ‘Compassion, Nurture, Empowerment’. Compassion, nurturing and empowering the next generation – isn’t that why we are all here? Isn’t that why we do this work?

“But with Féile na Carraige, not only do you celebrate your youth through creating opportunities for teeangers and leaders of the future, as the Féile programme does so well – but you give many opportunities for the older generations to come together through the medium of Irish, to bask in their youth again and inspire their energy through participation in these wonderful activities. You are raising and watching out for the young community a chairde, and I applaud you for it.”

This praise was echoed by Belfast Mayor Ryan Murphy who stated:

“Thank you for the invitation to be here today at the launch of Féile na Carraige, yet another initiative which demonstrates the drive and the activism which is the hallmark of Glór na Móna. This launch encapsulates common elements which are driving change across the city of Belfast. That optimism and the endeavour for both local communities and the Irish language community, often together, are animating the city, North to South, East to West.

Glór na Móna’s ambition has never rested. The continuing plans for further accommodation are bold and necessary to build on the potential of a vibrant multi-purpose Irish medium hub with families and young people at its very heart, driving Youth, Community, Heritage, and Wellbeing in the Upper Springfield area and beyond. The launch of this year’s Féile na Carraige is yet another fine example of that ambition for the organisation and for this wider community.”

In concluding the proceedings, Eoghan Ó Garmaile summarised:

“As always, Féile na Carraige focuses our attention on the topical challenges and opportunities that we face today; Language Revitalisation, a United Ireland and Irish Neutrality; the need for internationalism; socio-economic rights and the need for adequate housing for all and the urgent requirement for a more humane approach to mental health. We must build actions out of these circles and finally create a society not serving the interests of the owning class as it does now, but for the many, for the working-class, and as the renowned decolonisation activist and philosopher Frantz Fanon summarized: ‘Every generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it.’ Go n-éirí linn!”

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