Leveraging a festival to build bridges in a divided society

Adrian Devine, Frances Devine, Bernadette Quinn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Events are communal celebrations and because they bring people together they have the potential to create positive social outcomes for individuals and communities. In recent times this potential has received more attention from those bidding for and hosting events, however, despite all the well-intentioned rhetoric surrounding the social case for events there remains a sense that these outcomes are hoped for and desirable as opposed to being expected and planned for (Foley, McGillivary & McPherson 2012). This is in line with Smith’s (2011) argument that the social impacts are sometimes lazily citied by host cities to justify events when promised economic impacts have not materialised. To counter this and maximise the positive social benefits, pre-event planning and investment is required. This links to what Chalip (2004) refers to as event leveraging whereby governments (central and local), event organisers and other stakeholders agree on their social objectives at the earliest stage and plan how to achieve these. This chapter will discuss social leveraging in the context of Fleadh Cheoil, an annual festival which celebrates Irish culture through traditional dance, music and song. In particular, the focus will be on the 2013 edition of the festival, which was hosted by Derry/Londonderry, a politically and culturally divided city (McDermott, Nic Craith, & Strani 2015). The chapter will discuss how the organisers of the Fleadh Cheoil strategically used the event to break down political barriers and open up the city both socially and physically.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Festivals
EditorsJudith Mair
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-315-18632-0
ISBN (Print)978-1-138-73581-1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2018




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