All posts by Philip McShane

Sperrins Killeter Hillwalking Festival Opens Up A ‘Whole New World’ For Schoolteacher Catherine

Derry schoolteacher Catherine Montgomery is looking forward to returning to where her love affair with walking began when the Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival returns on 14th and 15th September. The Fermanagh native was a novice walker when the festival was first hosted by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Far and Wild back in 2014 but it marked the beginning of a journey that she admits has opened her eyes to a ‘whole new world’. A teacher in Thornhill College by day, she has found exploring the Irish countryside to be an ideal way to unwind and meet new people and she is encouraging others to sample the benefits of walking by getting involved in this year’s festival. “I always liked walking and usually tried to do as much as possible,” she recalls. “Initially it was walking to go places and do things rather than hiking as such but a number of years ago the parish of Ardmore held a series of Patrician Turas Walks that I took part in before attending the first Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival. “I had a great experience and haven’t missed one since, it is very well run and the welcome and friendliness of the organisers make it a perfect way to get out walking. “I decided to go along anyway, that is the beauty of Walking Festivals like the Sperrins and Killeter, everything is organised for you. “Fully qualified and very experienced walk leaders from Far and Wild ensure each walk is geared to the level of the group attending and it is their job to get us from the starting point to finishing point where festival staff are on hand with the best cup of tea and homemade scones. “The walk leaders are very knowledgeable about the area and are more than willing to share the history of where we are walking too. “We’ve had horse-shoeing, turf cutting, a climbing wall, an open fire when we’ve arrived back wet and chilled, homemade treats and live traditional Irish music – something for everyone.” While Catherine has reaped the physical benefits of regular hiking, of equal importance has been its impact on her quality of life. “Walking is obviously good for our health and that is an obvious reason for taking part but it offers much more – fresh air, scenic views, beautiful countryside, great company. “It is a bit of a cliché now maybe that walking is good for our mental health but after a hectic week there is nothing better on a Saturday morning that standing in the countryside, on a mountain, by a lake, in a forest, forgetting about the time and just enjoying what is around us. “For me walking has become something that I do to relax, energise and discover new places.” Having responsibility all week, what I love is that it is someone else’s job to tell me where to go, and to get me there and back safe.” The Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival caters for all levels of walker with walks graded as easy, moderate or challenging. Catherine hopes that her positive experience at the event will inspire others to consider getting involved and registering for one of the six walks taking place over the two days. “The Festival gave me the courage and confidence to try others and to be a little more adventurous,” she explained. “That is thanks to the friendliness of the organisers and the support and encouragement of the Far and Wild Walk leaders. “I’ve climbed a number of mountains, walked / hiked in numerous areas of Ireland and even made it all the way to the Picos in Spain – organised by Far and Wild and an amazing experience – wouldn’t have even considered it only that I knew I could trust Lorcan McBride not to advise me to do it unless he thought I would be able for it. I also did a section of the Camino and hope to do it all one day. “Walking has opened up a whole new world, the social side of walking is just as significant as the fitness, the number of people I have met through Sperrins and Killeter and other walks and festivals is considerable. “The Walking Festival is where you can be sure to meet people out for the same reason – to discover another part of the countryside and enjoy being outside. “Walking has made a massive difference to my physical fitness, my mindset, my self-confidence and has enabled me to discover a whole range of places that would never be seen if not walking. “That year of walks with Ardmore and the Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival are the two things I credit. “That is why I return to the festival every year, it is to be highly recommended with walks for all levels if interest and fitness.” To register for any of the walks on the Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival visit www.sperrinskilleterwalking.com where full details of each of the six walks over the two days are availableDerry schoolteacher Catherine Montgomery is looking forward to returning to where her love affair with walking began when the Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival returns on 14th and 15th September. The Fermanagh native was a novice walker when the festival was first hosted by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Far and Wild back in 2014 but it marked the beginning of a journey that she admits has opened her eyes to a ‘whole new world’. A teacher in Thornhill College by day, she has found exploring the Irish countryside to be an ideal way to unwind and meet new people and she is encouraging others to sample the benefits of walking by getting involved in this year’s festival. “I always liked walking and usually tried to do as much as possible,” she recalls. “Initially it was walking to go places and do things rather than hiking as such but a number of years ago the parish of Ardmore held a series of Patrician Turas Walks that I took part in before attending the first Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival. “I had a great experience and haven’t missed one since, it is very well run and the welcome and friendliness of the organisers make it a perfect way to get out walking. “I decided to go along anyway, that is the beauty of Walking Festivals like the Sperrins and Killeter, everything is organised for you. “Fully qualified and very experienced walk leaders from Far and Wild ensure each walk is geared to the level of the group attending and it is their job to get us from the starting point to finishing point where festival staff are on hand with the best cup of tea and homemade scones. “The walk leaders are very knowledgeable about the area and are more than willing to share the history of where we are walking too. “We’ve had horse-shoeing, turf cutting, a climbing wall, an open fire when we’ve arrived back wet and chilled, homemade treats and live traditional Irish music – something for everyone.” While Catherine has reaped the physical benefits of regular hiking, of equal importance has been its impact on her quality of life. “Walking is obviously good for our health and that is an obvious reason for taking part but it offers much more – fresh air, scenic views, beautiful countryside, great company. “It is a bit of a cliché now maybe that walking is good for our mental health but after a hectic week there is nothing better on a Saturday morning that standing in the countryside, on a mountain, by a lake, in a forest, forgetting about the time and just enjoying what is around us. “For me walking has become something that I do to relax, energise and discover new places.” Having responsibility all week, what I love is that it is someone else’s job to tell me where to go, and to get me there and back safe.” The Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival caters for all levels of walker with walks graded as easy, moderate or challenging. Catherine hopes that her positive experience at the event will inspire others to consider getting involved and registering for one of the six walks taking place over the two days. “The Festival gave me the courage and confidence to try others and to be a little more adventurous,” she explained. “That is thanks to the friendliness of the organisers and the support and encouragement of the Far and Wild Walk leaders. “I’ve climbed a number of mountains, walked / hiked in numerous areas of Ireland and even made it all the way to the Picos in Spain – organised by Far and Wild and an amazing experience – wouldn’t have even considered it only that I knew I could trust Lorcan McBride not to advise me to do it unless he thought I would be able for it. I also did a section of the Camino and hope to do it all one day. “Walking has opened up a whole new world, the social side of walking is just as significant as the fitness, the number of people I have met through Sperrins and Killeter and other walks and festivals is considerable. “The Walking Festival is where you can be sure to meet people out for the same reason – to discover another part of the countryside and enjoy being outside. “Walking has made a massive difference to my physical fitness, my mindset, my self-confidence and has enabled me to discover a whole range of places that would never be seen if not walking. “That year of walks with Ardmore and the Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival are the two things I credit. “That is why I return to the festival every year, it is to be highly recommended with walks for all levels if interest and fitness.”

To register for any of the walks on the Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival visit www.sperrinskilleterwalking.com where full details of each of the six walks over the two days are available

 

Foyle Maritime Festival 2020

Tourism NI

 

Derry City and Strabane District Council is delighted to announce that The Foyle Maritime Festival is set to take place from Saturday 25th July until Sunday 02nd August 2020

The event will feature the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race as part of its international programme of events, making it the fifth consecutive Clipper Race that the city has hosted.

Come and see why the legacy of the Foyle Maritime Festival has earned it the reputation between crews past and present for being the penultimate stop over despite fierce competition from other host cities like Cape Town, Seattle  and New York among others. With a range of keynote events, live performances, visiting ships and boats as well as water activities, food trails and animated zones it’s no wonder that this award winning, nine day maritime extravaganza is one of the most eagerly anticipated events taking place in Northern Ireland in 2020.

 

Strabane Comedian Ruairi Woods Brings Hilarious New Show ‘Panic Groom’ To The Alley

Strabane born comedian Ruairi Woods is returning to his roots with his highly anticipated new solo show ‘Panic Groom’.

After selling out the legendary Limelight Belfast, Ruairi arrives at The Alley Theatre in Strabane on July 19th with his hilarious new show for one night only!

Set in the cabaret style auditorium, the performance promises to be a relaxed evening in a comedy club style filled with laughter and plenty of jokes about his home town. After his appearance on ‘The Blame Game and various sold out theatre shows Ruairi has gone from strength to strength further establishing himself amongst Northern Ireland’s elite comedians.  Having supported many big comedy names such as Colin Geddis, Neil Delamere and Jake O’Kane, Ruairi will be the main attraction in his new ‘Panic Groom’ show.

Ruairi’s live stand up shows are not to be missed so grab your ticket from The Alley Theatre website or Box Office now to avoid disappointment. The show will also feature support slots from comedians Dave Elliott and Mark Mc Carney.

Tickets are £10 available from the Alley Theatre website on www.alley-theatre.com or call the box office on 028 71 384444.

 

Strabane Hosts International Appalachian Trail (IAT) Ulster Ireland – Outdoor Economy Event

A special forum has taken place in Strabane this week focusing on developing the tourism potential of the International Appalachian Trail (IAT) Ulster Ireland, a cross border long distance walking trail that takes in locations running from west Donegal, through the Sperrin Mountains, the North Coast, and the Glens of Antrim before finishing at Larne.

Organised by the IAT Ulster Ireland, the event was supported by the Reconciliation Fund of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Donegal Local Development Company, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Mid & East Antrim Borough Council and the Ulster Federation of Rambling Clubs.

The Outdoor Economy Forum event welcomed a range of experts in the field of outdoor and adventure tourism. It was one of a number of activities taking place over five days which were organised with the aim of strengthening relationships and sharing ideas and best practice, while also building on activity undertaken to date to develop the Ulster Ireland section of the IAT. The activities comprised of round table talks, walking on the IAT/Ulster Way, and focussed on trail development, linkages with other locations, as well as conservation and the development of tourism experiences.

While traditionally associated with North America and specifically the eastern United States and Canada, Appalachian geology can be found also in Greenland, Scandinavia, the British Isles and Europe and North Africa. The International Appalachian Trail running from the US to Canada was first developed in 1994 on the basis of this geology, and has since been extended throughout the world with Ulster Ireland joining in 2013. Its ultimate mission is to establish a network of walking trails that extends beyond borders of all  the  geographic regions which share the Appalachian footprint with the aim of connecting places and people, promoting  natural and cultural heritage, health and fitness, environmental stewardship, cross-border cooperation, and rural economic development through eco and geo tourism.

Acknowledging the success of the event, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Michaela Boyle, said the Outdoor Economy Forum had been a great opportunity to share expertise and experience which will benefit tourism in the wider North West region.

“The International Appalachian Trail is extremely popular with fans of the outdoors and there is great potential for further development in terms of creating bespoke walking and hiking packages for visitors to the region,” she stressed.

“The trail is a highlight of the new Tourism Strategy for Derry and Strabane, promoting rural tourism and making the most of our outstanding areas of natural beauty. By sharing information and experience with locations with common interests, we can work on harnessing the potential of these areas and drawing more international visitors with a passion for outdoor adventure experiences.”

Among the speakers taking part in the event were a highly expert North American delegation which included David Startzell, President Emeritus of  the Appalachian Trail Conservancy ; Suzanne Dixon,  Appalachian Trail Conservancy President and CEO; Don Hudson and Paul Wylezol, Co-Presidents of the IAT , Heather Clish of the Appalachian Mountain Club  and  Larry Luxenberg  of the Appalachian Trail Museum, Pennsylvania. All were impressed by programme of events that were provided by hosts IAT Ulster Ireland throughout the week and by the progress being made locally to develop an IAT walking experience.

David Startzell, the CEO for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy reflected on their experience of the positive impacts of trail development saying: “The Appalachian Trail (AT) is a 2,188-mile long-distance footpath extending through 14 states in the eastern United States as well as six national parks, eight national forests, and dozens of state and local parks, forests, and game lands. The AT experiences an estimated two million visitors each year. According to a survey conducted by the US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service in 2010, the trail, which passes through or near many local communities, generates $125 to $168 million in annual spending, with $27 million in local tourism spending and $36 million in local economic spin-offs. More than 30 communities are now designated as ‘AT Communities’ with promotional signage, school-aged trail-education programmes, and trail-friendly local land-use controls. Four of those communities sponsor or host trail visitor centres.”

This message was reinforced by Don Hudson, Co-President of the International Appalachian Trail and a founder of the IAT who said: “Trails are essential for the travelling public eager to learn about the landscape. The International Appalachian Trail was proposed 25 years ago to connect people and places and to celebrate cultural and natural heritage. As awareness grows of trails such as the IAT, communities in Maine are responding to meet the needs of an increasing number of visitors. Restaurants, lodgings, guide and shuttle services are among the businesses that are growing now in the greater Katahdin region of Maine, because trails provide access to an otherwise inaccessible landscape of deep forests, mountains, rivers, streams, and ponds.”

The goal of IAT Ulster Ireland is no less ambitious. It aspires to follow in the footsteps of the American Appalachian Trail including replicating the same positive economic impacts on local towns, villages and communities located along its route. The forum event held in Strabane, as well as the week’s other activities, are a significant stepping stone on the path to success.

For the IAT Ulster Ireland‘s Magne Haugseng, learning is key to development.

“We launched our section of the IAT in August 2013 and whilst improvement in trail infrastructure is ongoing and progressing well, I am delighted to welcome such expertise as this helps us to focus better on the important aspects of rural economic growth,” he said.

Further information on the International Appalachian Trail can be viewed at www.iat-sia.org.

Strabane Summer Jamm’s ‘Country Fest’ Promises A ‘Super Sunday’ For All The Family

Music fans are set for a feast of entertainment for all the family on Sunday 16th June when the Strabane Summer Jamm festival concludes by bringing together some of the biggest & most exciting acts on the Irish country music circuit.

Johnny Brady and David James will headline ‘Country Fest’ for a FREE four-hour-long open air concert at the Canal Basin, marking the end of Strabane Summer Jamm 2019.

This year’s Strabane Summer Jamm festival will run from Friday 14th June until Sunday 16th June with a mix of live music, fun fair, arts, children’s activities and markets taking place in various locations in the town.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Michaela Boyle said the ‘Country Fest’ represents the perfect way to round off a weekend to remember in Strabane.

“Strabane Summer Jamm has now firmly established itself as one of the most popular live music & entertainment events on Council’s calendar – and I have no doubts this year’s festival will be the biggest and best yet,” she said.

“The ‘Country Fest’ concert is a free event and one that promises to be a fun and entertaining day out for all the family.

“The amazing line-up this year also includes some of the most exciting names on the Irish country music scene – including Johnny Brady, David James and a host of local musicians – and is a fantastic opportunity for festival goers to hear them all on the one stage and dance the afternoon away.

“I’d also encourage people to come along and support the wonderful ‘Craic Youth’ from Strabane who are the next generation of Irish trad & folk musicians.  Indeed, ‘Country Fest’ will be giving them the perfect opportunity to perform on a professional stage in front of hundreds of festival goers!”

County Antrim man Johnny Brady has been involved in the music industry for the last two decades with four acclaimed albums to his name. His shows are characterised by powerful vocals and an energetic performance which is not be missed. A multi award-winning artist, Johnny has also regularly featured on national TV shows. Also as a result of signing a publishing deal with Bardis Music two years ago, he has made numerous trips to Nashville to both write and record – with his songs being pitched to some of the world’s biggest country stars!

Killea’s David James has had a meteoric rise in the country music scene since being awarded the title of ‘Best Young Entertainer’ at the Music City Awards in 2016 – the year in which he also scored a number one in the Irish Country Music chart with hit single ‘My Donegal Doll’.

Since then David has toured extensively throughout Ireland, the UK and the US –supporting acts such the Bay City Rollers and country legend Mike Denver –– and he also finds time to present his own show on Highland Radio – ‘The Jive Time Show’.

Only six months ago David also topped the UK & Ireland iTunes Christmas charts with the hit single ‘There’s No Place Like Home at Christmas’ – and his track soared to No.1 on its release, beating the likes of Coldplay, Bruce Springsteen and The Pogues off the hotlist.

With energetic performances and a fantastic choice in music, David is also sure to have music lovers at this year’s ‘Country Fest’ singing along!

‘Country Fest’ is a FREE family concert, suitable for all ages, and will take place in the Canal Basin from 3-7pm on Sunday 16th June. Join in the fun with plenty of activities also on the day including circus workshops, arts & crafts and face painting! Love dancing? Then join with the jiving and line dancing happening throughout the afternoon. Also grab a bite to eat at a choice of food stalls and relax and enjoy the sun in the licenced bar area!

For further information on this year’s ‘Country Fest’ concert and the full programme of events visit www.derrystrabane.com/summerjamm

Baronscourt and Muff Liquor Drinks Companies Showcasing In Philadelphia

A locally-based brewing company that specialises in creating flavoursome artisan craft beers is to showcase its produce to some of the top influencers in the drinks industry when the company travels to Philadelphia this week.

Baronscourt Brewing Company, are in the United States alongside Donegal based The Muff Liquor Company as part of an Ireland Northwest delegation with Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council to attend a prestigious Craft Drinks event entitled “In Good Spirits.”

John Wauchob, co-founder Baronscourt Brewing Company says this is a fantastic opportunity for the farm-run brewery to showcase its unique products and the unique methodology behind the production of their beer to specialists in the US drinks market.

Laura Bonner, co-founder of The Muff Liquor Company that produces a potato based craft gin and vodka says being part of the visit is an excellent opportunity for the company to network and meet with key influencers that will assist them to tap into the US drinks market.

The event is part of the collaborative work carried out by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council and their partners to develop in-market support for local companies to help them build relationships to support the development of export opportunities and is funded by the Executive Office and the Irish Government.

The Councils have been working closely with the Irish American Chamber of Commerce and Pennsylvania Dept. of Community & Economic Development to promote the North West region and are delighted that Baronscourt Brewing Company and Muff Liquor can avail of the unique opportunity to further develop their exports into the US market.

The “In Good Spirits” event features a panel discussion and question and answer session moderated by Terese Waldron, Director of Graduate Food Marketing Program at Saint Joseph’s University. There will be drinks experts from  Pennsylvania and Irish industry taking part including, Eve-Anne McCarron, Donegal Local Enterprise Office, responsible for The Food Coast Initiative); John Teeling of Teeling Whiskey; Andrew Auwerda, President & Co-Founder of Philadelphia Distilling and John Cooper, Co-Founder of Mountain Laurel Spirits (Dad’s Hat Rye)

Director of Business Stephen Gillespie with Derry City and Strabane District Council has welcomed the invitation for local companies to take part saying the visit is part of the Ireland Northwest’s strategic objectives, aimed at assisting local companies to internationalise their business, increase their business connections and exports.

A key element of this visit is that it aligns with the objectives set out in the recently launched Council food and drink strategy.

He said: “This is a great opportunity for Baronscourt Brewing Company and The Muff Liquor Company to showcase their products and further develop their links with drink distributors in the US. It’s a huge privilege for us to be invited to take part in this prestigious event and to be given a platform to promote the North West region as a food and drink destination. The event will be attended by a range of influencers in the drinks sector and our participation at this showcase is testament to the ongoing relationship we have developed with Philadelphia during our trade investment visits,” he said.

The delegation departed to Philadelphia earlier this week.

Further trade missions are scheduled to take place to both Boston and Philadlephia in November when both Councils will be supporting a range of local companies to assess their readiness to export and gear up to target and explore new business opportunities in export markets

Museum Loan Boxes Offer Glimpse Of Life During WWII :Derry-Strabane

07 May 2019

The museums and heritage service of Derry City and Strabane District Council are introducing an exciting and innovative service for local schools and groups to help recreate a sense of what life was really like for people living through the Second World War.

As the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the conflict approaches, two distinct loan boxes have been prepared which focus both on the home front, and the civil defence and regular army life. Schools and groups interested in exploring the era can now borrow the boxes from the Tower Museum or the Alley Theatre in Strabane to give children the opportunity to find out more about how ordinary people were impacted by the conflict at home, and what life was like for those embroiled in the conflict.

Collections Engagement Officer with the Museum and Heritage Service, Adrian Beattie, said the boxes offered a glimpse into the realities of day to day life during one of the most tumultuous times in recent history.

“The loan boxes offer the chance to see first-hand the items which would have been common in every household at that time, for example the newspapers that covered these historic events, which would have provided for most their only source of information on what was happening abroad.

“There are also examples of the rations that people had to make do with, which will give an idea of how little was available, and how things we now take for granted were considered luxury items at that time. The boxes are a great resource for any local schools or groups who may not have the opportunity to visit the museum, and are a great learning tool for anyone focusing on this era of history.”

The loan boxes are available to borrow for just £5, and hold a collection of fascinating items that conjure up a sense of the time. They contain a broad selection of items, many of which are original, that reflect the life of the ordinary person on the Home Front. The items include a selection of reprinted newspapers and WWII wartime replica newspapers, which will teach children more about the events of the time and help them understand the issues facing families in a war torn society.

Other items include replica WWII Food Rations to include the weekly approximate allowance of butter (50g), bacon (3 slices), one egg, cheese (50g), lard (160g), meat (224g), tea (50g), sugar (224g), as well as an evacuee’s suitcase of belongings, to include replica letters from real evacuees, toys, gasmasks, and documents. Replica ration books and propaganda documents also give a real sense of the air of uncertainty and threat which governed everyday life.

To find out more about how you can borrow one of the loan boxes for a school or group contact the Tower Museum on 02871 372411 or the Alley Theatre on 028 7138 4444.

 

Country Legend Nathan Carter To Headline ‘Strajamba 2019’

29 April 2019

Strabane will be buzzing with live music on Saturday 15th June 2019 as country legend Nathan Carter & his amazing band top the bill at this year’s ‘Strajamba’ Festival.

‘Strajamba’ is organised by the Strabane Business Improvement District (BID) and is aimed at improving Strabane as a thriving and vibrant town for local people and visitors alike to enjoy and do business in.

After the huge success of Strajamba 2018 (with headline act Hothouse Flowers) this year’s event is aiming to be even bigger and better!

The theme for this year’s live music festival is ‘nurturing home grown talent’ – and will host a number of great performances from the Wailin Banshees, David Oliver and Keep ‘er Lit, Adam Dolan, Shonagh Forbes, Darren Doherty & the Heathen Choir and Broken Bandits – with more local acts to be announced.

Strabane Business Improvement District (BID) officer Catherine Collins said: “I’m delighted that Strabane’s home grown talent will have the opportunity to shine at this year’s festival – which has such an impressive line-up headlined by the amazing Nathan Carter!

“Strajamba is growing year on year to become one of our most popular annual events – with such a brilliant mix of rising and established stars on the programme!

“Indeed, with a great selection of food vendors, a VIP tent, bar and live animations it will be an excellent night of entertainment – and a great way of celebrating and showcasing our local talent!”

Michael Kelly of MK’s Bar and Chairperson of the Strabane Business Improvement District (BID) company added: “I’m delighted to be supporting Strajamba again this year – and really excited about securing a line-up that will suit all tastes.

“Strajamba has been such a huge hit with the public – and with country legend Nathan Carter headlining this year I have no doubts that it will be a fantastic evening with a positive impact on the town of Strabane!”

‘Strajamba’ takes place in the Canal Basin on Saturday 15th June 2019.  Doors open at 5pm with the first act on stage at 5.30pm.  Nathan Carter will be performing from 9:30pm – 11pm.

Tickets are £20 for general admission with a special early bird rate of £15 until 10th May 2019. VIP tickets are £25 with a discounted price of £10 for under 16s – available from https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/strajamba-2019-tickets-59774053804 or from MKs Bar, Murphy’s on the Green and Café Fresco.

One Month Until New Manchester Service Takes Flight

26 April 2019

The countdown is on…with just one month to go until Loganair’s first inaugural flight to Manchester scheduled to depart on May, 24th 2019.

This is fantastic news for the North West as it provides direct connectivity to one of the main hubs in the North of England and creates opportunities for onward connectivity to international destinations via Manchester International Airport.

Airport Manager at City of Derry Airport, Charlene Shongo commented: “This is very welcome news for both the airport and the wider North West region. Loganair’s new Manchester service will allow our customers to travel direct from City of Derry Airport to Manchester.  Loganair are working with a number of airline partners to strengthen City of Derry Airport’s connection and facilitate onward travel, connecting the City and region to the rest of the world.”

Charlene outlined that this new service to Manchester, on top of Loganair’s other routes to London Stansted and Glasgow International, is evidence of the airlines commitment to maintain frequent, conveniently scheduled air services from City of Derry Airport to cities in the UK.

She added that the new Manchester service has already proven very popular for both business and leisure travellers within our local catchment and is also helping to boost inbound tourism from the UK market.

The new service operated by Loganair will be available daily with fare prices starting from just £39.99pp each way.  Loganair’s all-inclusive fares include 20kg hold baggage and 6kg hand luggage and complimentary refreshments on board.

Loganair also offer discounts on child fares and frequent flyers can benefit from the Clan Loganair loyalty programme.  Flights from City of Derry Airport to Manchester are on sale now, visit www.cityofderryairport.com for more info.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, John Boyle, expressed his joy at the news: “I am delighted and excited that City of Derry Airport is extending its route portfolio through Loganair’s launch of its Manchester service at the end of May.

“The Manchester route can provide outbound and inbound passengers with enhanced connectivity for business and leisure travel while Manchester airport offers an array of worldwide options for onward journeys.

“The airport already has a strong and long-standing relationship with Loganair dating back to its inception in 1979 and I would encourage local people to visit the airline’s website to learn more about the airline’s flight times and fares to London, Glasgow and Manchester.”

Charlene Shongo concluded by stating: “City of Derry Airport is a vital piece of transport infrastructure and has become the airport of choice for the North West, offering both convenience and excellent customer service. I would encourage all travellers within the local catchment to think about flight options from their local airport when making future travel arrangements, asking air passengers to ‘Think Local and Choose CoDA’ whenever they can.  We have fantastic facilities on our doorstep, and it is essential that everyone takes advantage of their local airport for their travel plans when possible.”

For more information on Loganair’s NEW service from City of Derry Airport to Manchester, visit www.cityofderryairport.com.

Launch Of The Alley Theatre’s Summer Programme 2019

18 April 2019

Residents across the Derry City and Strabane District Council area are being encouraged to check out the Alley Theatre’s latest Spring/Summer programme of events that has just been formally launched.

Among the highlights of the season that takes place from May – September are top comedy drama with Nula & Noeleen in ‘Nobody puts Bernie in a Corner, music from the phenomenal three part harmony vocal group, ‘The Ward Sisters’ and ‘The Rapparess, Summer Schools, Stand Up Comedy, Children’s Theatre and lots more.

May is full of comedy, music and original theatre. After popular demand our men over 55 years of age are back in ‘Cassoni’s Jukebox.’  A night of musical nostalgia as the men take to the stage after partaking in the Music to your Ears project.

If you’re crazy for Swayze and fancy a bit of salsa in your karaoke, then join Bernie Jones on her crazy ”Dirty Dancing” themed hen party in ‘Nobody Puts Bernie in a Corner’ for a wild night of fun and laughter.

Strabane Brass Band are proud to present a musical by Charles Fyffe An evening ‘Music from the Stage and Screen’ in June. Join the Strabane Brass Band for a concert featuring music from a variety of musicals and film. This promises to be an entertaining musical for the whole family.

This programme is packed with Children’s entertainment. For little audiences from 1to 6 years old, Humpty Dumpty will be brought on stage for the first time ever in a wonderful live interactive all singing and all dancing production.

If you love animals then you will not want to miss ‘Doctor Dolittle’. Follow the adventures of Dr. John Dolittle as he embarks on an unforgettable journey to Africa, with his parrot Polynesia, who teaches home how to speak to animals. Full of puppetry, singalong favourites humour and lots of joining in, ideal show for all the family and children ages 5 to 10.

Keep the kids busy this summer as the Alley Theatre have two summer schools this July and August.  The ‘Summer School of Rock’ by the Arts Academy returns for a week in July. Let the kids unleash their inner rock star as they will learn guitar, drums, singing, songwriting, digital sound, lighting and technical and lots more in this fun filled week with a final showcase at the end in front of family and friends.  No previous musical experience is required. Suitable for 7 years and over.  Book your place now through the Alley Theatre Box Office

The Summer months are full of music as our Open Mic Nights are back hosted by local musician Liam Cannon. If you would like to take part then get in touch.

The Alley Theatre Art Gallery will be hosting a range of exquisite exhibitions throughout May – September.  All free to attend, see www.alley-theatre.com for more information

To book tickets for any of the events outlined contact the Alley Theatre Box Office on 028 71 384444 or online at www.alley-theatre.com.  Download our programme online and keep up to date on the Alley Theatre Social Media Channels.

Castlederg Proves Perfect Host For NW Angling Fair

08 April 2019

A host of the UK and Ireland’s top fly-dressers, casters and anglers were in Castederg Castle at the weekend as hundreds of visitors attended the 2019 North West Angling Fair.
Derry City and Strabane District Council hosted the two day event in Castlederg for the first time with demonstrations and tuition on the Derg River and a wide range of exhibiters on dry land.
Highlights over the weekend included demonstrations and guidance from some of the biggest names in world fishing including Hywell Morgan, Robert Gillespie and Stevie Munn.

There was also a strong youth element to the Fair as the Loughs Agency hosted its Community Angling Training and Coaching Hub (CATCH) where coaches offered expert tuition to new, novice and experienced anglers in game, coarse and sea angling and a number of young people achieved the CAST Angling Starter certificate.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle, attended the event on Saturday and paid tribute to everyone who made it a weekend to remember.
“Congratulations to all the organisers of the North West Angling Fair who secured a stellar and action packed line-up that was enjoyed by hundreds of local people and visitors,” he said.
“The annual event has become a firm favourite on Council’s programme of events and is a great way to showcase the angling offering of our local waterways and to introduce people to the joys of angling.

“Castlederg proved an ideal location and I would like to pay tribute to the local partners who worked closely with Council officers to make sure the event ran smoothly and was a success.”
Festival and Events Manager at Derry City and Strabane District Council, Jacqueline Whoriskey, said the feedback from both traders and visitors had been extremely positive.
“We would like to thank the public for coming out and supporting the North West Angling Fair in such large numbers,” she said.
“There was a brilliant atmosphere around Castlederg over the two days and it was great to see old friends and new from the world of angling enjoying the experience.

“The CATCH element of the programme was well received and attended by young people and it was equally heartening to see so many women in attendance following on from the success of the Irish Ladies Fly Fishing Association’s Women’s Angling Day in Oaks Fishery last month.
“Trader and visitor feedback was extremely positive so it was a successful weekend all round and we are looking forward to bringing the event back to the Council area in 2020.”

Family-Friendly ‘Trad And Folk Session’ At the Alley Theatre,Strabane

25 March 2019

The Strabane Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann will be holding its monthly ‘Family Trad and Folk Session’ in the Café Area of the Alley Theatre between 2pm and 4pm on Saturday 30th March. This session is open to all families in the district and is a great chance for children and young people to get to play the tunes they are currently learning in a welcoming, public session. Learners are particularly welcome and will get lots of support when trying out their new tunes.

The inaugural Family Session in January was a huge success, and was followed up by two further family and youth sessions in the Alley, including one as part of the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in the town. While music will provide the backbone of the session, the Comhaltas is also looking to encourage all aspects of the Irish cultural tradition. So, if you have a dance, a poem, a song, a story, or a short 5 minute drama sketch (in either English or Irish) you’ll also be very welcome to take part in the Seisiún.

Strabane Comhaltas lessons have now commenced on Wednesday evenings in Gaelscoil Uí Dhochartaigh for children, young people and adults interested in the following: Traditional Singing (Youth) 6.30pm – 7pm; Traditional Singing (Adult) 7pm-7.45pm; Basic B/C Button Accordion (Youth) 7pm – 7.45pm; Basic B/C Button Accordion (Adult) 7.45pm – 8.30pm; Fiddle Improvers (Youth) 7pm – 7.45. The Comhaltas hopes to add to this range of classes in the time ahead.

If you are interested in further information please do not hesitate to contact strabanecomhaltas@outlook.com

Golfers Tee Up For Walled City of Derry & Strabane Pro Am Tournament

25 March 2019

Professional and amateur golfers are teeing up for the Walled City of Derry & Strabane Pro Am Tournament, which will take place on 24th and 25th August 2019. As one of the largest events in this year’s PGA calendar, the tournament hosts 52 teams and a total of 208 golfers.

Sponsored by Bishop’s Gate Hotel and Frylite and supported by Derry City and Strabane District Council, the tournament has attracted Ireland’s top professionals, including Irish PGA Order of Merit Winner Simon Thornton and defending Champion Michael McGeady.

Discussing the Walled City & Strabane Pro Am Golf Tournament, Ciaran O’Neill of Bishop’s Gate Hotel, one of the tournament joint sponsors, said:

“Now in its third year this tournament promotes the extremely strong offering that the North West region provides in terms of golf tourism. It brings together a broad range of golfers and golf enthusiasts and it is a top attraction in this summer’s sporting calendar.  We’re thrilled to be involved and we’re looking forward to showcasing what the North West has to offer.”

Joint sponsor, Eamon McCay, Managing Director of Frylite, added:

“The fact that Strabane Golf Club will feature along with City of Derry will make this year’s tournament a truly North West event. The calibre of local and international talent that is signing up to take part will undoubtedly attract a significant number of spectators and this in turn will benefit the wider economy.  We’re delighted to be sponsoring such a positive event as 1979 was the last time that a Pro Am event was held at Strabane Golf Club.”

Councillor John Boyle, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, welcomed the tournament:

“As a Council we’re keen to continue to attract premium sporting events such as the Walled City of Derry & Strabane Pro Am Tournament as this is a vital part of growing our Tourism offering. I am delighted that City of Derry Golf Club and Strabane Golf Club are coming together to host the event and that a larger number of competitors can be facilitated. This approach also reinforces the City and District’s reputation as a central hub for golfers, providing a challenging test of golf for both the Irish PGA Professionals and local amateurs alike.”

Ciaran O’Neill added: “In addition to the joint sponsors, Bishop’s Gate Hotel and Frylite, I would like to acknowledge and thank Visit Derry, Total Golf, Nuprint, Citroën and JC Halliday & Sons, who have been instrumental in attracting Irish PGA professionals back to the City. The North West region is fast becoming a golfing hub with Royal Portrush set to host the 148th Open this summer”.

Michael McCumiskey, secretary of the PGA in Ireland, explained the format of the tournament:

“Top Irish PGA Professionals from all over Ireland will be competing for the title and guaranteed prize pot of 15,000 euros. Teams of three amateurs will also compete alongside the professionals for the coveted team prize.

“On the Friday a junior event will take place, kindly supported by Irish PGA professionals. As part of our wider community outreach programme we will continue to work with budding young golfers delivering free coaching clinics hosted by top Irish PGA professionals.  Whether you’re brand new to golf or want to perfect your technique, your game will benefit from professional advice”.

For further information and to register for the Junior Golf event, please contact City of Derry Golf Club on 028 7131 1496.

Draft Green Infrastructure Plan Consultation Launched At The Green Infrastructure & Climate Change Conference: Derry-Strabane

13 March 2019

Derry City & Strabane District Council and its Green Infrastructure (GI) Partners this week formally announced details of an ambitious and forward thinking Green Infrastructure Plan 2019 – 2032 for the City and District.

The Plan and consultation was launched by the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle, at the Green Infrastructure and Climate Change Conference that took place yesterday at the Guildhall.

Welcoming the plan and encouraging people to take part in the consultation, Mayor Boyle said the views of the public were central to bringing forward the key objectives and aspirations set out in the plan.

He said that the GI Plan is linked to the Local Development Plan and the Strategic Growth Plan and will deliver benefits across four key themes to include people and place; economic prosperity; biodiversity; and climate change.

“This is a hugely significant document that has the potential to make real and lasting changes to our local environment. We really want to engage with the public and get everyone to have their say on the plan and get involved in bringing about real and positive change for our future,” he commented.

GI is an interconnected network of multi-functional green and blue spaces, which provide multiple environmental, economic and social benefits. It is mostly comprised of green spaces that are vegetated (woodlands, public parks and allotments) and blue spaces that are our waterways (rivers, canals, reservoirs and lakes).

Christine Doherty, Council’s Lead Officer for Green Infrastructure, speaking at the launch explained: “The GI Plan is a radical new approach that requires a change to the way we think about and value our green and blue spaces. It highlights that these areas provide a range of benefits including providing ecosystem services – essential benefits that people obtain from the environment – helping mitigate the impact of climate change, improving public parks, play areas, food-growing opportunities and the development of greenways.”

She added that linked to the Strategic Growth Plan there are three cross cutting themes within the GI Plan, which will focus on developing the health and well-being benefits of GI for people and our environment; raising awareness, understanding and appreciation of GI; and calculating the natural capital benefits of ecosystem services for local people.

The consultation events are scheduled to take place on Wednesday 20th March at the Guildhall and Thursday 21st March at the Alley Theatre in Strabane from 13:00 to 20:00.

Further information is available at www.derrystrabane.com/GI where you can view and provide feedback on the GI Plan.

LegenDerry Food Experience Event Hosts Food Strategy Launch

28 February 2019

The Walled City Brewery’s “LegenDerry Food Experience” showcase event last night was the perfect setting for Derry City and Strabane District Council to announce details of its ambitious plans to build on the city and district’s unique food offering in order to position Derry~Londonderry as the number one food destination on the island of Ireland by 2025.

The Local Food and Drink Strategy Action Plan for 2019-2025 was officially launched at a local food showcase event that saw over 70 guests including food stakeholders from across the island of Ireland gather to celebrate and promote the city’s food offering.

The Strategy, which is funded by the NICHE EU INTERREG Project,  aims to build on the City’s existing reputation as a stand out food destination within Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland having secured numerous awards, delivered international scale festivals and events, unique food experiences and award winning restaurants and producers.

The ambition is to grow the existing LegenDerry Food brand, establish a food and drink network with local businesses and further develop a strong food culture where local produce is prioritised by hospitality, retail and consumers. Key actions include plans to develop up to 50 new food and drink products, 20 new food and drink experiences as well as develop a full calendar of food events throughout the year.

Launching the Strategy, the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr John Boyle outlined details of its ambitious targets for growth that include doubling food and drink related visitor spend to £33m by 2025 in line with the Council’s Tourism Strategy.

He said: “The strategy highlights the unique selling points for development which include the Lough Foyle Irish Flat Oyster, Unique Food Heritage, A Cultural and Vibrant Food Scene and further positioning the Walled City as the gateway to the wider food experience.”

Details were unveiled of a number of aspirational proposals including development and promotion of the Lough Foyle Irish Flat Oyster and growing the local cultural and vibrant food scene as part of a wider regional food experience.

In addition to the Strategy being launched, guests were encouraged to sign up to be part of the newly established LegenDerry Food and Drink Network.  This is an informal network of businesses and organisations within the sector who will work in close collaboration to represent, promote and develop the local food & drink offering within the Derry City and Strabane District Council area. They will work in partnership with Council and the Strategic Food Group to support with the delivery of the Local Food and Drink Strategy.

It will also afford local businesses a range of opportunities to be part of best practice trips, gain access to tradeshows, and networking events as well as taking an active role in shaping the activity that will grow the city and region as the leading food destination on the island.

James and Louise Huey, owners of the Walled City Brewery said they were delighted to host ‘A LegenDerry Food Experience’ saying the event highlighted why uniquely positioning the city and region’s authentic food and drink products and interacting with customers can create an experience that will leave a lasting impression.

James said: “This event was the perfect opportunity to launch the strategy and provided us with a fantastic forum to showcase our produce.  I am really excited to play a part in the newly formed Food and drink network and look forward to working with Council and all those in the food sector to really drive the City forward as the number one Food Destination on the island of Ireland.”

Welcoming the commitment by Council to work with the sector to double visitor spend to £100m by 2025 and create up to 1000 additional jobs,

Mayor Boyle said: “The food and drink scene in Derry and Strabane is second to none and over the past number of years it has been part of an exciting and inspirational journey to successfully showcase our award winning produce, talented chefs, unique food experiences and award winning restaurants. The investment by a number of local artisan food and drink producers has successfully stimulated business and this has been key to our success. We hope that our continued collaborative approach to provide a unique food and drink experience will set us above the rest in terms of food tourism that will in turn encourage visitors to visit and stay longer.”

Jennifer O’Donnell Tourism Manager with Derry City and Strabane District Council explained that in devising the Strategy officers looked at other locations that are benefiting from food tourism including San Sebastian in Spain and Melbourne in Australia.

“Food Tourism is a significant area of growth, with visitors increasingly seeking out unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences. Food really connects people to a place and we want to continue to grow this element of our tourism offer. This strategy now provides a roadmap to do this.”

“We have a number of key propositions that include our Lough Foyle Irish flat oyster, a unique food heritage and a truly vibrant food scene which set us apart from other destinations. We believe this Strategy is ambitious, but achievable and the vision clearly sets out where we want to be positioned in the market place,” she concluded.

Concluding the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council said he was confident the Strategy would create a flourishing food and drink sector that will be successful in driving tourism growth both in visitor numbers and spend.

“This Food Strategy has the potential to showcase our wider destination offer that reflects our local heritage and unique culture.”

The Food and Drink Strategy is a Niche EU funded INTERREG