COMMUNITIES Minister Deirdre Hargey has officially launched the Féile na gCloigíní Gorma festival in Upper Springfield.
The festival, which takes its name from the bluebells which appear on the Black Mountain each May runs from Friday with a variety of events both online and in person, including a sunrise swim at Helen’s Bay, a panel discussion on the Belfast Hills and a family fishing trip, with Covid regulations applying.
It culminates with an online finale concert showcasing the best in local talent including performances by Brendan ‘Nipper’ Quinn, Ciaran Quinn, Run for Cover, Brian Hicks and Jake Mac Saiciais.

Launching the festival, Minister Hargey said: “I am delighted to be here today to launch Féile na gCloigíní Gorma – The Festival of the Bluebells.
“I am delighted that the festival is up and running again on the streets of West Belfast and within this community.
“This is a community that has had a hard week in terms of the events that have unfolded around the Ballymurphy Massacre but a week in which the truth finally came out into the massacre and what happened at the hands of the British government.
“This is a festival of hope, a festival of moving forward, a festival of bringing the community together and when you think of West Belfast and this community, you think of what the festival stands for.
“It is a community that stands in solidarity, it is a community that looks at the wellbeing of its people and when I think of this community in West Belfast I think of those three issues – community, solidarity and wellbeing” the Minister continued.
“When you look over the last year, people have been locked up and there has been draconian measures introduced. Activities that bring us together as people have had to be put on hold or online.
“I am delighted that this festival has a focus on community health and wellbeing because that is what people need at this time and going forward.”

Speaking at the launch, local professional boxer and Olympic bronze medallist, Michael Conlan said: “It is a pleasure to be part of such an amazing festival which promotes health and wellbeing.
“Being a boxer, I know an awful lot about that. I will be taking part in the sunrise swim and I am not looking forward to it, so if anyone wants to come and see me scream you are more than welcome.
“It is great to see this going ahead as we come out of Covid. Health and wellbeing is very important and it is a pleasure to be part of a festival that is bringing our local community together and showing that we are here for each other.”

Odhrán De Rúiséil from the festival committee added: “It has been a difficult year for us all both individually and as a community. Féile na gCloigíní Gorma is more relevant now that it ever has been.
“Féile na gCloigíní Gorma celebrates everything that makes our community special. It celebrates our culture, our heritage, our health, our people and our environment.

"These core pillars are intrinsic not only to our survival but to our flourish as a collective. A central ethos to the festival is the collective wellbeing of our people. It is about looking after one another, looking after our environment and remembering who we are and where we come from.
“To this end we have a plethora of events running all week long which immerse you in each aspect of these ideals. We want to treasure these ideals, not just because it has been a tough year but because it is a societal remedy that the world is craving and where better to start than here at home?”
To find out more about the festival and to see the full line up of events, check out their Facebook page.