All posts by Philip McShane

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

Fishing Enthusiasts To Get ‘Reeled In’ At NW Angling Fair 2019

25 February 2019

‘Save the Dates’ as details of one of the top angling events in the North West have been announced today by Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr John Boyle.

The North West Angling Fair 2019 will take place along the banks of the River Derg in the spectacular setting of Castlederg Castle on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th April.

Back by popular demand, the angling fair is returning for a fourth consecutive year (the previous three being at Melvin Sports Complex in Strabane) and is once again set to attract some of the UK and Ireland’s top fly-dressers, casters and anglers.


Opening daily from 10am to 5pm, the fair promises to be another huge success and a great occasion for all of the family to enjoy.

Mayor Boyle said this year’s event is an excellent way of promoting the river and fishing tourism in the Castlderg area. “I’m delighted to see the NW Angling Fair taking place this year on the banks of the River Derg with the stunning backdrop of Castlederg Castle” he said.

“Council is very keen to support events which promote sport and showcase areas throughout the district – and we believe that this event has huge potential in terms of actively promoting the Castlederg area for Angling tourism.

“This year’s event is also a great way of getting people out and about and encouraging them to enjoy fishing and the River Derg.

“It’s also great that the Loughs Agency are partnering with us again this year – with a programme of activities to encourage new participants – particularly encouraging more people to take up fishing, young and not so young.   Indeed, staff will be on hand to provide assistance to anglers with their e-Licence system and answer questions on development, conservation and protection of the river and its fish.

“A host of celebrity fishing experts will also be making an appearance at this year’s NW Angling Fair – and a firm favourite of the programme will be the series of outdoor single and double handed casting demonstrations when spectators will have the opportunity to watch expert anglers practice their sport and get free advice.

“It’s also great to see local angling clubs taking part in this year’s event – which will include youth angling competitions and activities to encourage a new generation of anglers into the sport.”

Festival and Events Officer with Derry City and Strabane District Council Liz Cunningham added: “This year’s NW Angling Fair promises to be yet another amazing weekend of activities for angling enthusiasts and the whole family – which will build upon the huge success of previous years.

“Indeed, with three years’ experience of hosting the event– and following the positive feedback from those who have previously taken part – this has helped us build this year’s event into something even more special!

“As well as having top angling celebrities and experts in attendance, we will also have lots of demonstrations – including fly tying – and trade throughout the weekend.

“To top it all, the weekend’s activities – including beginner to advanced fly tying & casting lessons – will be free! The only thing we ask for is to see some big catches over the weekend!”

For further information on the NW Angling Fair 2019 and to apply for the free fly tying & casting lessons or contact Elizabeth Cunningham on 028 71 253253 ext. 6956.

Plenty Of Family Fun On The Menu In Strabane This St. Patrick’s Day

20 February 2019

Strabane will come alive with the sound of music, song and dance this St Patrick’s Day with a full programme of carnival celebration for all the family.

The St Patrick’s festivities will this year celebrate a multitude of cultures and traditions, with a packed line up of craft, animation and live trad music.

The theme for this year’s St Patrick’s Day Carnival Parade focuses on one of Ireland’s favourite fables – the tale of Tír na nÓg – the mythical land of everlasting youth and joy. The theme fits well with the Youth19 programme, which this year promotes youth culture and celebrates the young people across the city and district.

Launching the programme, the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor John Boyle said: “St Patrick’s Day in Strabane is always a real community effort with great support from local businesses and organisations. This year once again there will be a diverse and family friendly programme with events to appeal to all ages.

He said: “It’s a great day out and an opportunity to enjoy a wide array of cultural experiences and entertainment for all the family.”

The day’s events take place at a range of venues across the town, kicking off at 2pm with the main carnival parade. Hundreds of participants from local community, school and sporting groups will take part in the celebration leaving Dock Street and making its way along Railway Street, Main Street to Market Street, then on to Abercorn Square, Railway Road and returning to Dock Street.

Butcher Street Carpark will be a hive of activity with live music by the Wailin Banshees, arts and crafts, face painting, balloon modelling, story-telling, dance and even a festive farm. If you’re interested in local history and culture, there will also be the opportunity to brush up on your Irish language skills, and find out more about local folklore and genealogy.

From 2pm – 5pm Castle Street will be transformed into a multi-cultural hub celebrating traditions and entertainment from around the world. Go on a global adventure starting with some Bollywood glamour, then try your hand at Chinese Dragon dancing. Join in some Tai Chi before visiting the Russian, Polish, Spanish, Chinese and Indian Art workshops.

Be prepared to be enchanted as the Alley Theatre Courtyard becomes a spell-binding fantasy world for the little folk with pixie dwellings and fairy hideaways and magical stories. Within the theatre itself enjoy some fantastic live music followed by performance from the Knocks Drama Group later in the evening. And of course there will be plenty of music and entertainment at other venues throughout the town.

To find out more about the full programme of events go to

£1m Funding For Businesses In Rural Derry & Strabane

15 February 2019

A £1m windfall for small rural businesses in the Derry and Strabane District Council area has today, Friday 15th February 2019, been announced by the Derry and Strabane Rural Partnership.

This major boost to rural Small and Micro businesses is thanks to the latest and final funding call released by the Rural Business Investment Scheme.

The LEADER funding, delivered under the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014 –2020, offers local rural businesses the opportunity to secure funding for capital investment projects that create new jobs and enhance export potential as well as assisting with marketing collateral.

It has invested £1.5m to 34 rural businesses in the Derry and Strabane District Council area with the creation of 54 new jobs since it was launched in 2016.

The Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014-20 is part funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and the European Union. The LEADER Fund is administered by Derry City and Strabane District Council on behalf of Derry and Strabane Rural Partnership.

The Derry and Strabane Rural Partnership will be hosting a series of pre-application workshops, commencing on Wednesday 27th February, with attendance mandatory for any business intending to apply. Previous applicants will need to re-attend one of the workshops for this call.

Speaking about the latest round of funding, Councillor John Boyle, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, said: “The Rural Business Investment Scheme funding has proven to be tremendous success, delivering significant impact in our vast rural community. The Fund has helped 34 small rural businesses invest in their future by equipping them with the skills and infrastructure needed to take their business to the next level.

“This is the final funding call under the Rural Business Investment Scheme and we would encourage any local business, who is investment ready, to attend one of our four mandatory pre-application workshops and find out how the scheme might benefit them and their local community.

“The Partnership is particularly keen to encourage applications from areas that have submitted low numbers to date, in particular, from the Sperrin District Electoral Area.”

To book a place at one of the workshops and receive a copy of the Expression of Interest form please email or phone Derry City and Strabane District Council on 02871 253253 x 6917.

Further information also available at





Wednesday 27th February 2019 at 3pm Derg Valley Leisure Centre, Castlederg
Friday 1st March 2019 at 10am The Belfray Country Inn
Tuesday 5th March 2019 at 7pm Strabane Enterprise Agency
Thursday 7th March 2019 at 7pm White Horse Hotel

Applications Open For Youth 19 Arts Festival Funding: Derry-Strabane

15 February 2019

Young people aged 12-24 are being encouraged to avail of grant funding of up to £500 to host events in this summer’s Youth 19 Arts Festival.

The festival is a new initiative in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area to bring different types of talent together into one big celebration of arts and culture.

Young people are being urged to apply to The Youth 19 Arts Festival support fund to host any initiative that celebrates arts and culture including performances, exhibitions or discussion forums.

The festival will take place from June 26th – July 7th and the core audience of all activities will be the 12 – 24 age group.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle, urged local young people to take ownership of the initiative by considering hosting their own events.

“The Youth 19 Arts Festival will be one of the highlights of the Youth 19 programme – a year dedicated to celebrating the key contribution that our young people make to our community,” he said.

“We want the festival to be led by young people for young people so this is your chance to use your imagination and come up with events and performances that celebrate our vibrant local arts and culture.

“It might be an album launch, an event that shares skills, or a creative way to highlight an issue that affects young people, whatever your idea, with the help of grant aid we can help make it a reality this summer.”

To be eligible for funding you must be aged 12 – 24 and living within the Derry City and Strabane District Council area.

Organisations are eligible to apply but a young person must take the lead in the delivery of the project.

The total fund available is £15,000, applicants can apply for grants up to a maximum of £500 and a total of £5,000 will be dedicated to supporting applications from rural areas.

Additional support may be available to support access and inclusions provisions, details of which should be discussed in your budget breakdown.

Applications can be made by filling out an application form, registering to present your proposal in person or by audio or visual submission.

All proposals should give detail on the questions asked in the application form.

Individuals or organisations can submit more than one application but if successful funding will only be issued for one initiative.

If you are a young person with a disability and need support to apply to the Youth Festival Support Fund, please contact us.

The closing date for funding applications is Friday March 15th at 5pm, successful proposals will form part of a wider programme for the youth led festival, all applicants will be notified of the outcome by Thursday April 18th 2019.

Please forward all applications to or mail to Youth Arts Festival Support Fund, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Strand Road, Derry, BT48 7NN.

If you have an idea but need support with administration please contact us for advice.

If you are a young person with a disability and need support to apply to the Youth Festival Support Fund, please contact us.

For further information E Mail, Text 028 71 376 646 or call Youth Festival Support Fund Officer Gareth Stewart on 018 71 253 253 Extension 6964.

Belfast City Airport Launches Visitor Attraction Competition

25 January 2019

George Best Belfast City Airport has partnered with Tourism NI and all eleven Councils in the province to launch the search for Northern Ireland’s Best Small Visitor Attraction – with £30,000 of free marketing support and brand visibility at the airport on offer to the winner.

The competition is open to visitor attractions and experiences across Northern Ireland that have an annual footfall of less than 100,000. The prize will include £20,000 of branding on site at Belfast City Airport which welcomes approximately 2.6m passengers each year, and £10,000 of online support through the airport’s digital channels.

To take part in the competition, attractions should submit their entries via email to by Friday 1st March 2019, with the relevant Council then selecting a shortlist of three attractions to progress to the next stage of the competition.

The chosen attractions will then feature on the airport’s Facebook page, with the most popular from each council progressing to the final which will see a judging panel visit, experience and score each of the attractions.

Katy Best, Commercial Director at Belfast City Airport, commented:

“In 2017 we ran a hugely successful competition with Food NI to launch the search for Northern Ireland’s Best Food or Drink Product. County Armagh’s Long Meadow Cider won the title and benefited hugely from significant presence in the airport and on our digital channels.

“The smaller visitor attractions and experiences are hugely important to the overall tourism industry here in Northern Ireland and that is why they were chosen as the focus of this year’s campaign. The competition gives these attractions a chance to shine and to boost their visibility amongst a huge audience of potential local and overseas visitors.

“With 2.6m passengers using the airport each year, this is a perfect platform to promote these attractions across our extensive range of advertising formats that target a variety of demographics including both inbound and outbound passengers.

“We are really pleased to be working with Tourism NI and all eleven local Councils to raise the profile of some of Northern Ireland’s smaller and lesser known attractions and would encourage all establishments with a tourism offering and an annual footfall of less than 100,000 to consider entering.”

The £20,000 of free advertising on offer at the airport will be on a number of formats within the terminal, while the £10,000 of digital support will include activities such as email solus campaigns and social media take overs.

Tourism NI’s Chief Executive, John McGrillen, said:

“We are thrilled to have partnered with Belfast City Airport for what I’m sure will be a very successful initiative.

“This is a superb opportunity for the smaller attractions in Northern Ireland that most likely don’t have extensive marketing budgets.

“Our focus is on encouraging visitors to extend their stay in the region, and this competition should raise awareness of the huge choice of attractions and experiences visitors have when they arrive in Northern Ireland.

“£30,000 of advertising at Belfast City Airport will have a significant impact for the winning attraction and I would encourage all attractions with an annual footfall of less than 100,000 to apply.”

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle, said:

“Derry and Strabane is a location steeped in history, infused with culture and rich in areas of stunning natural beauty.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for some of our iconic landmarks and venues to reach new audiences, and to profile the region as an exciting and unique visitor destination with so much to offer international visitors.

“I look forward to seeing a diverse range of entries capturing the essence of our City and District.”

For more information on how to enter, terms and conditions and to download an entry form, please visit

Belfast City Airport can also be found on Facebook (George Best Belfast City Airport) and Twitter (@BelfastCity_Air).

Information Sessions For Community Tourism Providers: Derry-Strabane

18 January 2019

Information sessions for community-led tourism providers will be held in the Guildhall on Wednesday 23 January 2019

Two formal information sessions will take place in the Guildhall at 10.30am and 6pm on Wednesday 23 January. For tourism providers unable to attend the formal sessions, one-to-one informal sessions will also be provided on the day between 10:30am & 6pm.

The information sessions will provide details of a new development course – ‘Community-led tourism in societies affected by conflict’ – which will be run in collaboration with Ulster University and Urban Villages.

Linzi Simpson, Council’s Peace Tourism Project Officer said: “This development programme aims to help the project to pilot a ‘Peace Tourism’ experience suited to local, national and international visitor demand.

“Among the objectives of the project is allowing the DCSDC area to position itself as a place for community, local, regional and international field trips and residential and training/awareness experiences for the benefit of dialogue and peacebuilding.

“It also aims to provide a platform to tell the City and District’s story, in a similar manner to other historic destinations across the world where it has become an integral part of their tourism offering.

The project is part of the Shared Spaces and Services priority area of the PEACE IV Programme funded by SEUPB. It is also a highlight of Council’s Tourism Strategy 2018-2025 which aims to enhance the area’s existing profile as an exciting visitor destination and is open to all stakeholders in the tourism industry locally.

“Our information sessions in the Guildhall will therefore be aimed at local community-led tourism providers – as we intend to tailor / shape our programme to meet the needs of the various organisations, individuals or venues who wish to become involved.

“At the information sessions we will also provide details of a short Ulster University-accredited course we intend to establish which will include both face-to-face and web-based learning.

“The delivery model for the fully funded course will take place over two full days or four afternoons/evenings and will be agreed with the course leaders following input from local tourism providers.

“I would therefore encourage local tourism providers to attend the information sessions in the Guildhall.  Indeed, If anyone would like any further information about the sessions, the project, or their organisation would like to become involved please contact or telephone 028 71 253 253 Ext 6933.”

Promote Your Event To A Wider Audience

Strabane Visitor Information Centre can provide event and festival organisers with a platform for marketing local events which have the potential to attract visitors to the area or simply encourage them to stay longer. If you are running a local event (e.g. a festival , family fun day, cultural event, traditional music session, talks on local history & heritage, guided walks, or golf , angling or equestrian competition ) and are interested in promoting it to a wider audience contact Strabane Visitor Information Centre on 028 7138 4444

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