THE Celts knew how to have fun and celebrate at this time of year known as Lughnasa. And I’m pleased to say that, as a native Celt myself, the festival spirit remains strong – and is truly demonstrated in Féile an Phobail.

This year's Féile was a time for me to enrich my mind and open my heart to new ideas as I enjoyed the sweet sounds of great music from Damien Dempsey, Dea Matrona, Imelda May. I also was boosted by the raw energy of Kneecap.

To meet and greet the diaspora through the many literary events, to be uplifted by the wisdom of our Palestine visitors and to be blessed by the mighty god Lugh himself — AKA the Sun — was the icing on the cake.  

During Féile, I always feel the words of Labi Siffre song 'Something Inside So Strong' warm me like an inner flame.  Before this year's Féile, you could feel the excitement grow as the start date drew near. The he words of that Right Honourable Celt Bobby Sands MP, poet, revolutionary, rang in my ears: ‘Our revenge will be the laughter of our children.’ I personally heard that healthy laughter as I weaved my way around the Falls on my trusty metal steed.

What a joy and a privilege to be a participant in the People's Festival. As I milled around, making new friends and reacquainting with old friends of the past, I felt truly connected and proud to be a Falls Road man — or better still to be a Clonardian. To see with my own eyes how far we have come together from the dark days of the past was uplifting.

We all have to take a moment and breathe the breath of Lughnasa and thank everyone involved in making Féile possible: the organisers, the speakers, the poets, the musicians, the caterers and a cast of thousands.

A special salute to all those from across our city who broke down past prejudices and crossed the lines of difference to celebrate our oneness — a unity that freely embraces change.

This is growth and like all growth it comes out of suffering. My inner laughter is that of the child within me who played in the Falls Park as a boy and ran around the secret and sacred streets of my youth with the belief that a better day would come — a day which would allow us all to laugh and celebrate the harvest of the years.

It was great for me to be remembered by old comrades and to smile as we hugged each other and laughed with the excitement of renewing our friendship — a feeling like no other. I hope that everyone felt that feeling of the Féile.