10 years ago Pocket Billiards played their first gig in Giro’s, Belfast.

Today they are still going strong and will mark the occasion with a huge show in Belfast’s Mandela Hall on May 12th 2012.  Not only will this celebrate 10 years of Pocket Billiards’ madness, it will also be the launch of the band’s eagerly awaited second studio album ‘Last Chance to Dance’. There will be support from local acts Axis Of, Bomb City 7 and just announced on the bill Chewing on Tinfoil from Dublin.  Make no mistake – Pocket Billiards are planning one massive party, and it’s not one to be missed!  So get your dancin’ shoes on and get ready to celebrate 10 years of Belfast’s finest ska-punkers!

“…one of the country’s best acts.”
Alternative Ulster Magazine
“Their sound is huge…”
“…Your feet just can’t keep still”
Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival
“…recalling The Clash, The Pogues, Elvis Costello and Ian Dury, with a dash of American
punk and country funk to sweeten the mix…”
“…it’s as punk as they come, Clashing The Specials and Rage Against The Machine.”
BBC Across The Line
“Pocket Billiards know how to pick out the best bits.”
Rocksound Magazine

Pocket Billiards are a 9-piece band from Belfast that fuse ska, reggae and dub with punk rock
and heavy riffs, creating an energetic and powerful sound. The band have been performing
and touring for over 10 years and have played with some of the best ska and punk artists in
the world – The Specials, Bad Manners, The Selecter, The Slackers and The Undertones to
name but a few. Following the release of their debut studio album back in 2009 Pocket
Billiards have since attracted the attention of fans and critics from across all music genres –
you don’t have to be a fan of ska to like this band!
In 2011 Pocket Billiards were nominated for “Best Live Act” in the first ever Northern Ireland
Music Awards. They are well known for creating an infectious party atmosphere at their live
performances and can stir even the tamest of crowds up into a storm. 2012 promises to see
the band release their much anticipated second album and undertake a mammoth European
tour, as well as perform at a plethora of festivals and events.
Pocket Billiards continue to fly the flag for their local music scene and show no sig


THE biggest Countrysports Fair in Northern Ireland is back this May and promises to be even better than ever before with a staggering £1 million worth of investment set to be generated into the local economy.

: The Northern Ireland Countryside Festival was launched last night by (L-R) Alderman Dillon, Chair of Lisburn City Council Economic Development Committee, Festival Directors Derek Lutton and Bill Beckett and Eddie Rowan, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board’s Event Manager. £1 million worth of investment is set to be generated into the local economy by the two-day spectacular, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary and has launched a brand new website to mark the occasion. Taking place in Moira Demesne on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th May, 2012 the festival is expected to attract more than 18,000 visitors. For further information visit www.nicountryside.com

Rebranded from The National Countrysports Fair to The Northern Ireland Countryside Festival, the two-day spectacular, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary and has launched a brand new website to mark the occasion, will once again take place in Moira Demesne on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th May, 2012.

More than 18,000 visitors attended last year’s event and organisers expect, with new attractions and activities, that number to rise significantly this year resulting in a huge boost for the local area. With the various exhibitors and visitors travelling into the region over the weekend, 800 bed nights will be required while £100,000 will be spent in and around the festival venue.

Families will certainly enjoy all the fun of the fair as this year three great events – the National Countrysports Fair, the Tea on the Titanic Music Festival and the Finn McCool Strongman Festival – have been rolled into one giant festival.

Activities in the main ring this year include Phoenix Falconry Birds of Prey Display, Drakes of Hazard Sheepdog and Ducks Display and Gundog handling demonstrations. The Strongman Arena will include the Finn McCool Celtic Games and the Irish Novice Strongman Challenge while the Tea on the Titanic Festival allows the visitor to enjoy traditional music and dance from Hugo Duncan and band, The Bjorn Identity Abba Tribute Band and an Elvis Tribute act.
The eagerly anticipated festival has seen significant support and funding from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Lisburn City Council as it continues to establish itself as a key Northern Ireland event and generates tourism during #ni2012 supporting the ‘Our Time, Our Place’ campaign.

Festival Director, Bill Beckett said, “This year is going to be bigger and better at the Northern Ireland Countryside Festival, not only are we celebrating our 10th festival at Moira Demesne, we have rebranded and have launched our new website.

“The festival has continued to grow over the years and this year we wanted to enhance the visitor experience with the two additional events in what is a very historic and important year for Northern Ireland tourism,” he added.

Eddie Rowan, Northern Ireland Tourist Board’s Event Manager said, “We’re delighted to once again be supporting the Northern Ireland Countryside Festival. Each year it attracts crowds from across the country and with new attractions added to the 2012 event we’re sure it will appeal to an even wider audience and help increase attendances even more during this great year for tourism in Northern Ireland.”

Alderman Dillon, Chair of Lisburn City Council Economic Development Committee said, “Lisburn City Council is delighted to see the return of the festival for the tenth occasion to Moira Demesne and the first as the Northern Ireland Countryside Festival. This is a great event for the local area and with the estimated investment into the local economy, everyone should benefit from this.”

For further information and for ticket prices please visit the website www.nicountryside.com



Lilly-Rose Muldoon (aged 4) helps Eason launch its Eason Ulster Spelling Bee 2012. The competition which is aimed at encouraging child literacy across all nine counties and highlight that spelling is fun will kick off with the first county heat taking place on April 17. Winners from these “County Bees” will then be invited to take part in the provincial Spelling Bee competition later this year before the overall final in June, where the four provincial winners will battle it out to be crowned the “Eason Spelling Bee 2012”. Dozens of schools have entered but there’s still plenty of time to join in the fun and take part – to learn more and sign up go to www.easons.com





HAPPY DAYS, the Enniskillen International Beckett Festival, today announced tickets will be on sale from 10am Thursday 19 April for selected highlights for its inaugural Festival, 23 to 27 August 2012.

The programme will present a diverse mix of international theatre, music, art, comedy and conversation from world class Irish, UK and international artists and writers. The full HAPPY DAYS programme will be announced in June 2012. Tickets available from www.happy-days-enniskillen.com.

Early highlights include four projects that are part of the London 2012 Festival, the spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration running from 21 June until 9 September 2012 bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK.

The London 2012 Festival events are the UK and Irish Premiere of Robert Wilson directing and starring in Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape; Britain’s favourite living composer, Gavin Bryars with his Ensemble performing The Sinking of the Titanic, alongside the World Premiere of the HAPPY DAYS commission, The Beckett Songbook; Antony Gormley’s Godot Tree, unveiled for the first time in the Grand Yard at the National Trust’s Castle Coole; and film-maker Atom Egoyan, nominated for two Palme D’Or Awards and two Academy Awards, presenting his installation Steenbeckett (2002), a work from The Artangel Collection that is premiering in Ireland prior to its accession by the Tate.

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of Castle Coole being in the care of the National Trust, Antony Gormley’s Godot Tree will be in place for 60 days from 2 July and throughout the HAPPY DAYS festival.

Other highlights announced today include the Vienna Piano Trio performing some of Beckett’s favourite composers; Perrier Award-winner and Bafta-nominated comedian, Stuart Silver; Tenor Ian Bostridge singing Schubert’s Winterreise accompanied by pianist Julius Drake; and Lyr Williams performing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Castle Coole, built in 1789, the year of the French Revolution, will also be the venue for the closing recital of French song and opera arias by mezzo soprano Ruby Philogene MBE, accompanied by Julius Drake, in honour Beckett’s adopted homeland.

Writers and poets discussing their relationships with Beckett and the lasting influence of his work.

will include Edna O’Brien, Lady Antonia Fraser, and John Banville amongst others. Edna O’Brien will open the Festival’s programme on Thursday 23 August at the Ardhowen Theatre, with an in-conversation event with William Crawley.

HAPPY DAYS, based in Enniskillen at the heart of the beautiful Fermanagh Lakelands in Northern Ireland, is the world’s first annual Festival dedicated to Nobel Prize-winning writer, Samuel Beckett. The Festival will celebrate Beckett’s work and influences and present some of the many international artists, writers, musicians and performers he has inspired.

Samuel Beckett, like Oscar Wilde before him, spent his formative years at Portora Royal School in Enniskillen. This remarkable island town is the perfect centre for HAPPY DAYS, a major, new destination cultural Festival embracing the entire Fermanagh Lakelands experience.

Some of Northern Ireland’s most extraordinary landmarks will host HAPPY DAYS, including Enniskillen Castle, Castle Coole, Portora Royal School, Mount Lourdes School, Blakes of the Hollow, St Michael’s Church and St Macartin’s Cathedral.

HAPPY DAYS is funded by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Arts Council Northern Ireland, the London 2012 Festival and Fermanagh District Council.



£12.50 / Over 18s

“One of the purest, clearest talents I know  – a fabulous singer, bursting with raw Irish soul. Striking and original songs, and an effortlessly brilliant band. The whole Bronagh picture has come into focus.”  Brian Eno, APRIL 2012

Photo courtesy of Dara Munnis

To celebrate the release of her stunning self-titled second album, Meteor-nominated Derry singer and actress Bronagh Gallagher and her brilliant eight piece band have announced a week of shows in Ireland culminating in a show at The Limelight Belfast on Saturday 2nd June. Bronagh is a deeply soulful artist with a unique gift for singing and  storytelling, and has created a fascinating new world of songs and stories through her own personal experiences.  Tickets for the Belfast show go on sale this Friday at 9am from www.limelightbelfast.com, www.ticketmaster.ie and 22 outlets province wide.

In this highly anticipated second album, the listener is somewhat seduced by the songs the stories and their characters and we take flight on a journey from Ireland to Dorset England, Paris to Berlin and then onto California, we become submerged into magical nights unfolding wonderful stories in the ‘City of Angels’ finally leading us into the darkness and ganglands of Mexico City.

Following her Meteor-nominated debut album “PRECIOUS SOUL” (Mojo Magazine ***), Bronagh has again penned all her own material, collaborating on some of the music writing with her cousin Caolan McLaughlin, and the wonderful band of musicians that accompanied and guided Bronagh as she also took the helm as Producer on this record.

Bronagh brought together her favourite musicians and some close friends from rock n roll royalty in Ireland and London. They include the brilliant Conor Brady (Guitar), Graham Hopkins (Drums and percussion), Clare Kenny (Bass), Justin Carroll (Hammond Organ and Wurlitzer), Shelly and Jordan Bukspan and Paul Byrne (Backing Vocals), Michael Buckley and Ronan Dooney (Horns), and rehearsal and recording began in Optophonic Studios in Dublin, Ireland in February 2011.

A Titanic battle on the Lagan for NSPCC!

Gather your team for NSPCC Northern Ireland’s Viking Boat Races, and prepare for a Titanic battle on the River Lagan!

The hordes will hit Cutters Wharf, Stranmillis, at 12pm on Sunday 6 May for the annual event.

NSPCC community fundraising manager, Paul Montgomery, said: “Over the last 12 years, teams of 10 have invaded the Lagan in Viking long-boats to test their strength, speed and endurance, while making a difference for vulnerable children and young people in Northern Ireland.

“As we prepare to recruit adventurers for this expedition, sponsored by Cutters Wharf and Barefoot Wine, you are invited to take your place for a raucous day out marking Belfast’s Titanic year.”

Battle against the clock to be the winner of your category, with the two fastest teams going head-to-head for ultimate glory.

Paul continued: “We rely on public support to help us continue our work with some of the most vulnerable children in Northern Ireland. Together we can help shape a society where abuse doesn’t go unchallenged, where children are empowered to seek out help, and where every call for support can be answered.”

Team members must be aged 18 or over, and teams can be male, female or mixed (with no more than six men in a mixed team). The entry fee, to be raised through sponsorship, is £200 per team of 10, or alternatively raise £400 and receive a T Shirt and tuck into lots of delicious barbecued food and accompanying drinks as a reward for your exertions!

To find out more or enter a team, click here, contact NSPCC Northern Ireland on 028 9035 1135 or email northernirelandappeals@nspcc.org.uk.

To make a £4 donation to the NSPCC in your area text NIChild to 70744.


Are you interested in singing in one of the biggest choral events ever to take place in Northern Ireland? Would you like to become involved in the London 2012 Festival celebrations in Belfast this summer? Read on!

NEST is one of the major London 2012 Festival events taking place this summer in Belfast to celebrate the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The producers are currently recruiting singers for a large Community Choir, made up of people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to take part in a massive choral and musical event on 21st July 2012, at T13 warehouse, Titanic Quarter, Belfast. The community choir will perform alongside established choirs from around Northern Ireland and the National Youth Orchestra. The final choral event will be part of a large-scale visual arts exhibition created by the people of Northern Ireland themselves who have been donating and labeling personal objects since September 2011.

The music is being composed by award winning Northern Irish Composer, Brian Irvine, who will be working with the large community choir weekly each Saturday in Belfast from 2nd June (10am – 1pm) until the final event. He’s encouraging everyone to get involved in what he’s calling ‘The Big Sing’

Greatly anticipating the final event, Brian Irvine said:

‘ 400 + singers from all parts of Northern Ireland performing together with the 120 superb young musicians of the Ulster Youth Orchestra …now that’s what I call a band! We are looking for people who just really “want” to sing and in return we guarantee you some hard work, some great music, some new friends, a lot of fun and a big beautiful sound.’

If you are interested in joining the community choir or need more information please contact Project Manager Cathie McKimm on info@2012nest.com or by calling 07874 023528. Alternatively further information on NEST can be found on www.2012nest.com.

Frock Around The Clock for The Jubilee!

To mark 60 years of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s reign, North Down Borough Council are planning some special Diamond Jubilee events, taking place at The Town Hall and Bangor Town Centre over an extended weekend in June.

Jahnassa Aicken showcasing some fabulous vintage fashion, a taste of what will be available at The Diamond Jubilee Frock Around The Clock Vintage Fair which is taking place at The Town Hall, Bangor as part of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations on 3rd and 4th June.

As part of the vintage-themed celebrations, on June 3rd & 4th, in the beautiful surroundings Bangor’s Town Hall – a special Jubilee version of the popular Frock Around The Clock Vintage Fair will be taking place. Guaranteed to delight the vintage lover and the shopaholic alike, the fair will feature a fabulous line up of around 50 handpicked local vintage dealers and creative designers offering a huge array of vintage and handmade fashion, jewellery, furniture, homewares, collectables, gifts, sweet treats and much more. This vintage shopping extravaganza is the perfect place to find something truly unique and beautiful that you won’t find on the High Street. Recent recessionary times have brought vintage to the forefront of fashion and this event will be a pure vintage shopping experience and a fabulous celebration of timeless glamour, reminiscence and nostalgia.

Frock Around The Clock has been a favourite on the Belfast event calendar for a number of years, attracting visitors from all over Ireland, the UK and further afield. Commenting on the event, the Fair’s co-ordinator, Rebecca Moore of Decadence Events said:  “I am delighted to be bringing Frock Around The Clock to Bangor and working with North Down Borough Council at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Bangor is my hometown so I am very happy to have this chance to showcase Ireland’s longest running vintage fair in a town that means so much to me and to bring our fantastic vintage sellers and creative designers to a new and wider audience. We have been delighting vintage lovers from all over the country since 2008 but to be part of such a huge and nostalgic event as this is both fitting and very exciting.”

As well as the vintage fair, there will also be a Vintage Car display, a Kid’s Wonderland, live music from internationally renowned Jazz acts and the Ulster Orchestra, as well as events at The Museum, The Big Lunch and lots more.

So come down to Bangor this June 3rd and 4th and be part of the Queen’s Jubilee Celebrations!

For further information, please phone our Tourist Information Centre on: 028 9127 0069 or visit www.northdowntourism.com


National Trust launches campaign to get children outdoors with Elite Rangers

The National Trust has today launched a nationwide campaign to encourage sofa-bound children to take to the outdoors and enjoy classic adventures from skimming stones to building dens.

The charity’s ‘50 Things To Do Before You’re 11¾’ campaign provides a checklist for under-12s (and those who are young at heart) including everything from running around in the rain and bug hunting, to setting up a snail race, damming a stream, flying a kite and making a (delicious) mud pie.

To help bring to life these simple pleasures, the Trust has formed a group of Elite Rangers who will share their expert tips on enjoying outdoor adventures and their enthusiasm for encouraging children to play alfresco.

The five rangers, all Trust staff, come from across the UK and range in age from 29 to 49. They include a 6ft 3” tree climbing expert, who has scaled 50 metre-high trees, (a.k.a. Tree Man), Captain Skim who can skim a stone over 26 times and Midas the treasure hunter.  The other rangers are Den-Boy, an outdoor hideaway-building champion, and a minibeast expert (aka The Bug Catcher) who can name over 300 varieties of moth.

The fantastic five will be offering top tips on their chosen skill to the nation’s children over a Free Weekend (21 and 22 April) when the National Trust will open up over 200 of its houses and gardens for free over the weekend, as well as all the countryside spaces it cares for, which are always free access. Properties across Northern Ireland including Mount Stewart, The Argory and Florence Court will be free to the public to explore – just download your free entry voucher from the National Trust website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/freeweekend

The ‘50 Things To Do Before You’re 11¾’ initiative is in response to a report commissioned by the National Trust which reveals fewer than one in ten children regularly play in wild places; compared to almost half a generation ago, a third have never climbed a tree, one in ten can’t ride a bike, and three times as many are taken to hospital after falling out of bed, as from falling out of a tree.*

Kids can pick up a free 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11¾ scrapbook from participating properties – and start ticking off their outdoor adventures to do list. Plus, the fun can continue at home by visiting nationaltrust.org.uk/50things where children can fill in their completed activities and earn points towards their very own explorer badge.

National Trust Ranger for South Down properties in Northern Ireland, David Thompson, commented:

“Childhood experiences such as building a den, rolling down a hill, hunting bugs and pond dipping are an essential part of growing up. And to help children enjoy the simple pleasures of being outdoors we’ve compiled a list of some of the easiest and fun outdoor experiences we think all children should be able to do before their twelfth birthday.  50 things to do before you’re 11¾ will take you into the woods and onto water, up huge hills and down to the beach.”

Tony Berry, Visitor Experience Director of the National Trust, comments:

“Our Elite Rangers are a fantastic bunch, with bags of enthusiasm for the outdoors and what it can offer kids. We’re hoping that the nation’s children will embrace the 50 things and start having their very own outdoor adventures with their family, with our Free Weekend the perfect opportunity to get outside in the fresh air.”

McQuaid New Album and April 2012 Ireland/NI Tour

In conjunction with the recent 2012 release of her new album The Plum Tree and The Rose (currently charting at No. 3 on the Folk Radio Chart, No. 4 on the UK Roots Radio Airplay Chart and No. 5 on the Euro Americana chart), Sarah McQuaid sets out on tour across Ireland and Northern Ireland — see details of dates below.

Photo by Colm Henry (www.colmhenry.ie).

The Plum Tree and The Rose is the third album by this gifted and captivating performer whose warm, haunting alto is delicately cradled by her “sparkling guitar” (Sing Out!). She is both song crafter and song collector, equally at home with traditional Irish and Appalachian folk songs, Elizabethan ballads and 1930s jazz numbers.

Her musical output is a direct and unfolding reflection of her own eclectic background: Sarah was born in Spain, raised in Chicago, holds dual US and Irish citizenship, and currently lives in rural England. While the genre, era and geographical location of her songs may change, at their core is a musician who has soaked it all in – and, luckily for us, is able to eloquently express the stories she’s gathered.

Produced by Gerry O’Beirne (Midnight Well, Patrick Street, Sharon Shannon Band), engineered by Trevor Hutchinson (Waterboys, Lúnasa) and released on the Chicago-based Waterbug Records label, The Plum Tree and The Rose represents a departure from Sarah’s previous albums, which focused on her arrangements of traditional material, in that nine of its thirteen tracks are originals.

Although a thread of personal experience is woven into the material, Sarah truly shines as a teller of parables. Whether she’s recounting the life of 16th century businesswoman Bess of Hardwick or standing in a cathedral and pondering the immortality of the soul, the specific detail subtly manifests a universal truth. These are songs that linger in the listener’s imagination.

Tour Dates

Thurs 19 April. An Creagán, Creggan, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland BT79 9AF
Tel 028 80 761112 — Tickets £10 advance £12 door From 9.00 p.m. Doors 8:30 p.m.

Sat 21 April. Whelan’s, Wexford Street, Dublin 2, Ireland – Album Launch Concert
Tel 01 478 0766 — Tickets €13.00 – From 8.00 p.m.

Sarah will also be giving a guitar workshop at 2:30pm at Walton’s New School of Music, 69 South Great George’s Street, Dublin 2, Tel 01 478 1884 Tickets €20.00, http://www.newschool.ie

Sun 22 April. McCarthy’s Bar, Goat Street, Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland
Tel: 066 915 1205 — Tickets €10.00 — From 8.00 p.m.

Mon 23 April. The Village Arts Centre, The Square, Kilworth, Co. Cork, Ireland.
Tel: 025 32227 — Tickets €15.00 (€12.50 conc) — From 8:15 p.m. (Doors 8.00 p.m.)

Tue 24 April. The Local, 10 Grattan Square, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland
Tel: 058 41854 — From 9.30 p.m.

Wed 25 April. The Market House, Market Street, Monaghan Town, Ireland
Tel 047 38162 — Tickets €5.00 — From 8:30 p.m.

Thurs 26 April. Roots Fifty Six, The Fifty Six, Main Street, Arklow, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
Tel 087 640 4067 — Tickets €10.00 — From 8.30 p.m.

Fri 27 April. Crusoe’s Coffee Shop — First Floor, 29 Sea Road, Castlerock BT51 4TN
Tel 028 70 849618 — Tickets £40 includes dinner and wine — From 9pm (Doors 8pm)

Sat 28 April. New Music Club @ Moran’s Bar, 7 Parnell Street, Clonmel, Co Tipperary, Ireland
Tel 087 291 3484 — Tickets €5.00 – From 9.30 p.m.

Sun 29 April. The Blackbird, Main Street, Ballycotton, Co. Cork, Ireland
Tel 021 464 7884 — From 6:30 p.m. (Doors 6pm)