Teddy bears, fridges and even beds are among the many things that students bring with them to start university life according to the UK’s largest ferry operator P&O.

The company, which operates the shortest, fastest and most frequent crossings between Ireland and Scotland, and estimates it carries thousands of students on these routes each year, has also reported seeing guitars, surf boards, roller blades and even the odd golf club or two on board during the run up to freshers week.

Among the other items routinely transported on P&O sailings are bikes, TV’s and games consoles and according to the company one student even brought a much loved pet.

Tracy Robb, Marketing Manager for P&O Irish Sea, said: “With the huge array of books, electrical items and other worldly possessions needed at the start of university life travelling by ferry remains one of the most popular choices for transporting loved one’s and their luggage in the run up to first term.

“Starting university and leaving home for the first time can be a scary prospect for many and so having a few well chosen items that remind students of home often brings comfort and security in the first few months of term. P&O takes the hassle out of travelling and because there is no maximum luggage allowance or weight restrictions it means that often Teddy gets to go too!”

According to UCAS over 3,000 students make the journey from Northern Ireland to England and over 1,000 move to Scotland to start university life*.

Tracy continues: “P&O operates 20 sailings per day on its routes between Larne and Troon and Cairnryan, and four sailings per day between Dublin and Liverpool**, and with fares as low as £79 for a car and driver P&O offers parents and students a hassle free journey towards the first days of university life.”

*2009 Annual data sets

**Except Sunday and Monday.

For more information on all day trips or to book, visit

Borough’s first ever Big Busking Bonanza!

7 year old Liam Nachmias gets in some practice for Ballyclare Busking Bonanza with the Mayor of Newtownabbey, Alderman Paula Bradley.

Ballyclare will come alive with the sound of music on Saturday 11 September when Newtownabbey Borough Council and the Ballyclare Chamber of Trade will host the Borough’s first ever Big Busking Bonanza.

A wide range of talented performers, musicians and vocalists will take to the streets and with a line up to suit the tastes of both young and old, there will certainly be something for everyone to enjoy.

Speaking at the launch of the event, the Mayor of Newtownabbey Alderman Paula Bradley said;

“I’m delighted to be launching the Borough’s first ever Big Busking Bonanza. We’re hoping that everyone will come along to Ballyclare for this great fun event and enjoy the wealth of talent that will hit our streets.”

Niall McConkey, President of Ballyclare Chamber of Trade said;

“By working in partnership with the Council, local companies hope to deliver a successful Big Busking Bonanza which we hope will become an annual event to put Ballyclare firmly on the musical map and attract visitors to the town centre.”

The talented buskers will be competing for a £1500 prize fund, including Best Individual Act, Best Group Act, Best Street Performer, Best Junior Act and Best Overall Act.

For further information, contact Gillian Lewers on 028 9034 0079, see the Council’s website or follow the Big Busking Bonanza on Facebook.

Musicals versus Opera

The best musicals have three essential qualities – Brains (intelligence and style), Heart (genuine and believable emotion), and Courage (the guts to do something creative and exciting) and Songs For a New World has bucket loads.  On Saturday 11 September an exciting modern musical about life changing and earth shattering discovery opens at the Riverside Theatre, Coleraine.

In a new world in which today’s answers probably won’t apply tomorrow, everyone recognises struggle and the challenge of finding a way to go forward.  Those moments of discovery in a new set of circumstances that cannot be expressed with mere words – they must be sung with every fibre of your being.  This is what Songs For a New World is all about.

If you ever thought that epic struggle was only ever the preserve of grand opera think again!  The real irony is that grand opera was invented by Renaissance Italians who were trying to copy Greek drama, which they mistakenly believed was sung-through.  So not only are musicals not descended from opera as a poor relation, but opera is descended from the earliest musicals!

This modern musical, direct from Broadway by Jason Robert Brown, is entirely about the music, the challenging vocals and the emotions of the four characters.  Songs for a New World shows the struggle between Fear and Faith, and it asks the question, In the moment of profound discovery what do you do?

Songs for a New World is more than a show it is an experience of musical energy.  The music ranges through pop, gospel, jazz and classical in a non stop performance.  We defy anyone to just sit and let the music wash over them.  One of the most active parts of the event will be your brain making the connections, running through the consequences and perhaps relating them to your own lives; you have to be quick because the scenes won’t wait for you! said Musical Director Andrew Robinson from the new theatre company Just Tea & Friends.

Tickets £8, concession £6 from the Box Office or online at


At dawn on Saturday the 9th October two Limavady Rotarians intend to proceed on the journey of a life time.

They will be cycling from the West Coast of Ireland in Sligo to the East Coast of Northern Ireland – all inside 36 hours!

Brave Rotarians Peter Jack and Darren Mornin, this year’s Limavady President and President elect intend to be MAMILl i.e. middle aged men in lycra.  It will be frightening sight!

They are raising money for Rotary charities before and during the event and all donations will be gratefully received!

Darren in particular is honing himself to a new level of fitness – he does his exercises every morning, up down, up down –  then he races the other eyelid as well!

They hope to finish at about 6. 00 p.m. on Sunday the 10th and I am trying to work a way of trying to get from Newcastle, back to Limavady without having to sit down….

Sam McCrea (with cowboy hat), will drive the support bus for the 3 days needed to ensure they complete the cycle marathon.  The bus will be decked with buckets which will welcome coins being thrown at it …. sorry, try to aim for the buckets!


One of Northern Ireland’s longest-running and most popular midweek theme nights, Skool Disco at the Limelight, is set to close its doors for the final time on Thursday 9 September to make way for a new weekly club starting the following Thursday.

All good things must come to an end, just like those carefree school days which are said to be the best days of anybody’s life.

The Last Skool Disco in The Limelight will be something of a final graduation ceremony for all its loyal customers – anyone who came to the first night in 2002 as a ‘first-former’ would, by 2010 had hopefully finished their university degree and should be now working in the “real world”, if they can get a job that is!

The mix of music, which ranged from 70s and 80s cheesy pop and disco, to 90s old skool rave anthems, was provided by head boys Dave and Pat who will be playing all the classic Skool Disco tracks on the final outing.

No more conga lines, snaking throughout the club whenever Paul Simon’s Call Me Al is played, no more Rocky theme tune no more blur of glowsticks which accompanied Scooter’s Logical Song, no more getting down and dirty (quite literally!) on the dancefloor for Rock The Boat.

As Alice Cooper once said – Skool’s out – for ever!




DOORS 10PM-2AM, ADMISSION £4 (£3 in Uniform)

Our Thursday’s Showcase Narrowed down to final four.


Empire Saints, winners of the NI Regional Final

Guinness® & Co today announced the talented four bands who have been selected by a panel of music industry experts to move forward to the ‘Our Thursdays’ National Showcase in Lavery’s, Belfast on 9th September.

‘Our Thursdays’, this year’s addition to the Arthur’s Day celebrations, honouring the remarkable legacy of Arthur Guinness, gives emerging Irish acts the incredible opportunity to be part of the Arthur’s Day artist line up on 23rd September alongside amazing international artists including Snow Patrol.

At the Regional Showcase in Belfast last night, Empire Saints secured a place in the National Showcase on 9th September. They will be joined by Reko, Maud in Cahoots, and Dave Peyton who also secured their places at the Regional Showcases in Cork, Dublin and Galway last night.

The panel of judges involved in the selection of these lucky bands is comprised of music industry experts including members of Snow Patrol, Director of Talent at MTV Europe, Matt Cook and Editor of Hotpress Magazine, Niall Stokes.

Speaking about the four bands, Jonny Quinn from Snow Patrol said “The level of talent that we have seen from the Our Thursdays showcases has been incredible. It has made our job as judges extremely difficult. We look forward to playing alongside one of these guys on 23rd September.”

At the National showcase on 9th September, 3 of the bands will be selected to play official studio venues in Cork, Galway and St James’s Gate Brewery on Arthur’s Day alongside amazing international artists including home grown global phenomenon Snow Patrol and multi-platinum artist Paolo Nutini.

As well as the incredible opportunity to perform to a crowd of thousands on Arthur’s Day, the best three bands will also receive studio time, a digital release with Universal and will find themselves splashed all over the cover of Hot Press magazine in a special feature, with full details to be revealed at the National Showcase.

Our Thursdays events and Arthur’s Day celebrations are strictly over 18’s events.

Drink Responsibly. Visit

The GUINNESS and ARTHUR’S DAY words and associated logos are trade marks.


BUSHMILLS VILLAGE, IRELAND: A 28-year old lifeguard from Svishtov Bulgaria has won a global Bushmills Irish Whiskey® competition with a prize described as ‘the whiskey lover’s ultimate dream’.

Overall winner Ivan Ivanov

Ivan Ivanov was chosen from finalists from nine countries as the winner of the Make it at Bushmills challenge at a gala dinner this evening (Thursday) in the village of Bushmills on Ireland’s north coast. The historic area has a history of whiskey production stretching back more than 400 years.

He will now spend 30 days working alongside Bushmills’ Master Distiller Colum Egan with the aim of becoming the first ever person outside the distillery to create their own blend of one of the world’s best-loved Irish whiskeys. Their prize also includes a month’s luxury penthouse accommodation in Ireland and £5,000 spending money.

Make it at Bushmills has attracted interest from around the globe since its launch in the New York Stock Exchange on St Patrick’s day on March 17. The nine finalists from Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Northern Ireland, South Africa, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Bulgaria were chosen by public vote to represent their countries in this week’s two-day ‘Bushcamp’ finale, set by Bushmills’ Master Distiller, Colum Egan.

The contestants included a head sommelier from a French three-star Michelin restaurant, a former Wall Street broker as well as a drumming world record holder from Lisburn, Allister Brown, aged 33 years old.

Following a series of mental, physical and skills-based challenges, the performance of the individual contenders was assessed by a judging panel that included Irish rugby legend, Keith Wood, Foy Vance, one of Ireland’s most respected singer-songwriters and Joel Harrison, a regular contributor to a number of leading whiskey publications.

Ivan said: “Winning the public vote to represent Bulgaria in the final phase of the competition was a real honour. But to be the overall winner is just incredible – I still can’t believe I’ll spend a month making whiskey with the world’s best. It’s the whiskey lover’s ultimate dream.”

Colum Egan said: “Throughout the competition, Ivan has shown that he has the passion and personality to Make it at Bushmills. This is a fantastic opportunity for him to learn how great whiskey is made and I know he’ll grasp this opportunity with both hands.”

Follow Ivan’s progress at the Old Bushmills Distillery on

Drink Responsibly for the facts

‘Blooming marvellous menu’ to be served up at Botanic

Belfast’s picturesque Botanic Gardens will be the undoubted destination for gardeners and gastronomes alike next month.

The Taste Northern Ireland Garden Party, which is jointly organised by Belfast City Council and Tesco, takes place in the south Belfast park over the weekend of Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 September.

The finest food from the best local producers will tantalise and tease the taste buds and sate the appetite of even the most discerning foodie, while there also will be cookery demonstrations, live music and children’s entertainment.

Alongside the food and entertainment will be Belfast City Council’s Autumn Flower Show, the biggest in the Province.  Now in its 29th year, it will see displays of thousands of colourful prize blooms, alongside exhibits of monster-size vegetables and prize-winning fuchsias, bonsai, cacti, and other delights from local gardens, allotments, greenhouses, wine cellars and beehives.

Launching the event, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Pat Convery, commented:

“Over the past number of years, this event has proven to be one of the most popular events staged in the city, and it is an undoubted highlight of both the culinary and gardening calendars.  This year will have more local producers than ever before, and I am delighted that it has the added benefit of being free.”

Caoimhe Mannion, Marketing Manager with Tesco NI, said:

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Belfast City Council to host the Taste Northern Ireland Garden Party.  We are committed to supporting producers across Northern Ireland and this event, which celebrates the very best of the region’s food and drink, is testament to that.”

The event is also tipped to be the most environmentally friendly in the city this year, with all the food and drink served in recycled or biodegradable containers and ample recycling facilities available onsite.  Visitors are encouraged to bring their own bags and to use public transport or pedal power in getting to and from the event, cycle racks will be provided.  Belfast City Council staff will be on hand to give advice on recycling, home composting and other environmental issues.

The Taste Northern Ireland Garden Party takes place at Botanic Gardens, Belfast, on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 September.  Opening hours are 11am – 6pm (12.30pm – 6pm for the Autumn Flower Show) each day and admission is free.

Botanic Gardens will remain open for the duration of the event, however access will be controlled.

Further information is available by visiting, from the Belfast Welcome Centre in Donegall Place or by telephoning +44 (0)28 9024 6609.

Spotlight falls on Belfast’s music scene

The spotlight falls very brightly on Belfast’s thriving and creative music scene next month.

More than 100 gigs, featuring the very best in local talent, will be staged at some 30 venues across the city as part of the first ever Belfast Music Week, which runs from September 12-19.

Organised by Belfast City Council – with support from the European Regional Development Fund, through the Northern Ireland Sustainable Competitiveness Programme – Belfast Music Week will showcase both new and existing bands, songwriters and DJs, across all musical genres.

Among the week’s highlights will be:

  • Cashier No 9 (photo courtesy of Bradley Quinn Photography

    live performances by dozens of top local bands including LaFaro, Cashier No 9, Wonder Villains, More Than Conquerors, Farriers, Dutch Schultz, A Plastic Rose;

  • the best of Belfast’s songwriters, performing with live bands ‘In The Round’;
  • three album launches;
  • four record company showcase nights;
  • the launch of a CD called ‘Oh Yeah Contenders: New Music From N. Ireland’, comprising 10 exclusive recordings from upcoming acts, chosen by the votes of local media and industry figures;
  • the induction of The Undertones into Belfast’s very own music ‘Hall Of Fame’, followed by an intimate gig by the band themselves at the Oh Yeah music centre in Cathedral Quarter.

The week will culminate with the free ‘MTV Presents…’ concert, featuring Mark Ronson, at the Belfast Waterfront on Sunday, September 19.  MTV will also be broadcasting their flagship ‘MTV News’ programme from the city throughout the week.

Councillor Conor Maskey, chairman of Belfast City Council’s Development Committee, said: “Belfast is one of the great musical cities. Its music receives high international praise and our latest generation of musicians is playing a crucial role in revitalising the city.

“This is an art form that is defining the new mood of Belfast, and Belfast Music Week will profile Belfast’s reputation as the birthplace of exceptional music.”

Councillor Maskey’s comments were supported by local music guru, Stuart Bailie. He said: “It’s great to see how everyone has responded to the possibilities of Belfast Music Week. The venues, the bands and the industry people have come behind this quickly and enthusiastically.”

“It’s a chance to show how our city is alive with music and that we’re looking forward to sharing it with locals and visitors alike,” added the broadcaster, journalist and CEO of the Oh Yeah music centre.

David Neely, of CDC Leisure, said that Belfast Music Week could not be happening at a better time, especially in relation to the creative renaissance which the city is enjoying.

The Undertones“Not since the days of the Undertones, That Petrol Emotion and Stiff Little Fingers has the Northern Ireland music scene been so vibrant and exciting,” he commented.

“With the likes of Ash, Therapy? and Snow Patrol blazing a trail, today’s new pretenders to the throne – General Fiasco, Two Door Cinema Club, The Answer and And So I Watch You From Afar, to name but a few – make the live music scene something the ‘north’ can shout about.  Belfast Music Week will literally…rock!”

Andrew Ferris, managing director of Smalltown America Records, added:“I’ve been in the business for 20 years now and, to be honest, I think this is the best time for the local music scene. The bands are producing commercially viable music, but with a punk spirit. They’re not holding back, they’re not waiting for someone to come along with a cheque, they’re just going for it themselves, and that combination of talent and passion is getting them noticed.”

For more information on Belfast Music Week and for a full listing of gigs visit Info is also available at or you can download the free Belfast Music iPhone app.

Photo Exhibition : Through the Mill

Through the Mill, a series of thought-provoking images by local photographer David Cleland, captures a living history of aspects of Lisburn’s industrial past.

A two hundred year story ended in 2006 with the closure of Hilden Mill – ‘Through the Mill’, a final chapter, offers us a unique opportunity to see the mill as it is now and a chance to imagine something of the lives of generations of mill workers.

The images challenge us to consider our heritage – what has gone before, what will never return, what is our legacy, and what will become of an architectural and industrial landmark on our doorstep?

‘This series transcends location, with its images capturing urban decay, the natural world and the minutiae of our daily routine, challenging us to consider the supposed  silence of the past and our place in the present’.

DATE: Wed 13 Oct – Sat 23 Oct 2010


TIME: Mon – Fri, 9.30am – 10pm – Sat,10am – 5pm

Location : Island Arts Centre

Lisburn Civic Centre

The Island


BT28 4RL

For more information visit