Wall murals, photography, a theatre and memories of working in the linen trade all part of a festival in west Belfast.

A week long community festival in west Belfast is underway, showcasing the cultural and artistic aspects of an area often portrayed unfavourably by the media.

Alongside photographic exhibitions and the staging of Ulick O'Connor's play 'Execution', the West Belfast Community Festival is also hosting sporting events for children, and an open day in the Falls Women's Centre.

As part of the festival, Dublin-based artist Robert Ballagh visited west Belfast to judge an art exhibition of 10 wall murals adorning the gable-ends of houses on the west Belfast streets. He was shown around by Sinn Féin President and local Member of Parliament Gerry Adams.

The winning mural in the Springhill estate, depicts Lugh, King of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Painter Gerry Kelly said he was inspired by Jim Fitzpatrick, whose paintings are based on Celtic mythology.

The second prize mural in Leeson Street, off the Falls Road, was painted by five young people in tribute to and the jailed South African leader Nelson Mandela

Third prize went to a mural in the Beechmount area of Belfast commemorating the Gibraltar 3.

Robert Ballagh believes murals became a popular form of expression when many people felt the story of the hunger strikers were not making the headlines, so they chose to paint their stories on the walls.

As an artist he finds this interesting because

We are often told as artists that art is irrelevant to the lives of ordinary people, but here we see an example of the ordinary working class people of Belfast using art to tell their story.

Micheál Mac Giolla Ghunna is very happy to see the artistic community from other parts of Ireland recognising west Belfast as a culturally strong area.

It’s great to see people giving support to a community that quite often is portrayed negatively, that quite often is treated as a sort of pariah, and these people are breaking through that sort of isolation.

Across from the Mandela mural is the Conway Street Mill one of the first linen spinning mills to be established on the Lower Falls Road.  Part of the mill is now a community centre and it is hosting a mill workers day to give an idea of what life was like in the linen trade in the 1930s.

Former employees at the mill, Margaret McCann and Mary Black, describe the difficult working conditions they endured.

I don't think the young people today you know like the hard work we had to put in.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 12 August 1988. The reporter is Michael Fisher.