Northern Ireland

Féile 35 promises to be biggest festival to date

A discussion on the 'impact and enduring legacy' of historian Dr Eamon Phoenix is taking place at St Mary's University College on August 3.
A discussion on the 'impact and enduring legacy' of historian Dr Eamon Phoenix is taking place at St Mary's University College on August 3.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Booker Prize contender Paul Murray and veteran composer Phil Coulter are among the many highlights of this year's Féile an Phobail, which kicks off on Thursday.

Over the next ten days thousands are expected to flock to west Belfast to enjoy Ireland's largest community festival, which is now in its 35th year.

Among the performances, plays, exhibitions and concerts is an event reflecting on the remarkable contribution to an understanding of modern Irish history made by the late Éamon Phoenix, a daily contributor to The Irish News, media partner for this year's Féile.

Taking place at St Mary's College on Thursday August 3 at 1pm and chaired by Irish News editor Noel Doran, the event will feature contributions from historians Margaret Ward, Jason Burke and Marie Coleman, who will discuss Dr Phoenix's influence and highlight some of the most significant themes and topics he explored during his acclaimed career.

Speaking ahead of the free event, Mr Doran said: "Éamon Phoenix was one of our most significant citizens in a range of different contexts so I am very much looking forward to a debate which will consider the full extent of his legacy.’’

Dublin-born author Paul Murray, whose book The Bee Sting has been longlisted for this year's Booker Prize, will be among the writers appearing at Scribes at the Rock on Thursday, August 10. 

Read more: Powerful new play about Project Children to debut at Féile

GAA President-Elect Jarlath Burns set for St Mary's event for Feile an Phobail

Also appearing at the Falls Road bar's literary gathering will be Poleglass author Michael Magee, whose debut novel Close to Home, has received widespread acclaim and Michelle Gallen, author of Factory Girls.

Organiser and author Danny Morrison said: "It’s another great line-up at Scribes, and besides Paul we have Michelle Gallen and her hilarious novel, Factory Girls and west Belfast’s own Michael Magee whose exceptional debut has been universally acclaimed by, among others, Richard Ford."

With 350 events in total at 50 venues across the city, Féile 35 the festival promises to be the biggest to date.

The opening day of the festival also sees an appearance by former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who will ponder the 'Choices for Ireland'.

The free 7pm event at St Mary's College, comes as the debate on a border poll intensifies. The independent MP for Islington will examine the choices faced by Ireland – to realise the internationalist vision of James Connolly or to follow the increasing global trend of racism and authoritarianism.

Derry songwriter Phil Coulter
Derry songwriter Phil Coulter

Among the concerts taking place at Falls Park and other venues are appearances by Phil Coulter and Kneecap, along with comedy courtesy of Micky Bartlett, Neil Delamere and Ciaran Bartlett.

For more information and tickets visit