10 Exciting Things to do Next Week in NI!

The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) has put together a list of 10 exciting things to do in Northern Ireland next week (March 2 – 8).

  • Michael McGoldrick, John McCusker and John Doyle, Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich, Falls Road, Belfast, March 8. Three members of the BBC acclaimed Transatlantic Sessions will play here as part of a unique European tour. This is a rare chance to see three of the world’s finest musicians share a stage together.
  • Festival in a Day 2015, Belfast Waterfront, Belfast, March 8. With ‘must see’ bill-topping treats, fantastic workshops, fun free activities and more, Festival in a Day 2015 is packed with mini adventures for families with children to experience and enjoy… all crammed into one action-packed day!
  • Discover Fermanagh Open Weekend, various locations, Co Fermanagh, March 6-8. Take advantage of this FREE attraction packed weekend for free from March 6 – 8. Taking place over three days, visitors have the opportunity to visit a selection of stately homes, museums, historic castles and ancient sites.  Take a cruise on Lough Erne, explore the incredible Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark and join in on a cake decorating class at Orchard Acre Farm.
  • 11th United Airlines Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival, 9 Donegall Square North, Belfast, March 4-8. With more than 40 events and showcases and the Song Writing Convention, the annual event has become a well established part of the Belfast music scene. The event will feature award winning artists Jim Lauderdale, Bruce Cockburn, Andy Fairweather Low, James House and Max T Barnes alongside the cream of local talent Foy Vance, Cara Dillon, Peter McVeigh, and more.
  • Ballymoney Drama Festival, Ballymoney Town Hall Arts, Museum and Tourist Information, Ballymoney, Co Antrim, March 3-7. Featuring leading amateur drama groups from all over Ulster the Ballymoney Drama Festival will entertain guests to a selection of gripping dramas, poetic and comedic plays. The programme of plays includes ‘A Month in the Country’ by Brian Friel, ‘Frost/Nixon’ by Peter Morgan and ‘Metamorphosis’ by Steven Berkoff.
  • Apres Ski Party, The Jungle NI, Moneymore, Co Londonderry, March 7. To celebrate their 10th Birthday this year, The Jungle NI are hosting an Après-Ski party on Saturday 7th March. Visitors to the event will be treated to an Austrian style fully-stocked bar, providing the best elements of any Après-Ski party, from a great sound system, state of the art lights and lasers to a top DJ pumping out iconic dance tunes.
  • The Argory Open Day, 144 Derrycaw Road, Moy, Co Armagh, March 7. Enjoy free admission at a number of National Trust places on March 7 including the stunning Argory and its grounds. Visit other National Trust properties for a chance to meet staff and volunteers and learn about the amazing places the National Trust looks after.
  • Shared History Tour Centre, Banbridge District Council, Downshire Road, Co Down, March 4 – 7. This fun filled day has something for everyone, a fully guided tour of the Irish Military Museum by William Sullivan, founder and curator. Participants will be shown a replica of a WW1 trench and hear what it was like to be a soldier living there. They can ride in an army tank, a FV432 and watch expert’s fire weapons, and handle military equipment.
  • The Three Little Pigs, Alley Theatre, Railway Street, Strabane, Co Tyrone, March 5. The Three Little Pigs is a musical story telling performance that kids will love. Come along and experience this fantastic musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s dark and funny take on the traditional fairy tale but prepare for a few twists and turns along the way. This production offers a wonderful opportunity to experience live music in a fun and engaging way.
  • Royal Blood, Ulster Hall, Bedford Street, Belfast, until March 8. Enjoy the increasingly popular ‘Royal Blood’ who wrap the primal essence of ferocious rock ‘n’ roll power around a surprisingly innate ability to craft deft melodies and soaring hooks. The band is the result of a lineage that stretches from present day heroes, Queens of the Stone Age, to Led Zeppelin, and all the way back to early blues pioneers and are now in Belfast for your entertainment.

Jacqueline from whatsonni.com shares her pick of What’s On this weekend across NI


Explore the 40,000 year old world of the Ice Age, when Ireland was covered with snow, ice, and some unusual creatures at WWT Castle Espie this Saturday and Sunday.  See how the ice made valleys and shaped our scenery.  Take part in interactive activities, discover what’s hidden in our little icebergs and help build a giant mammoth sculpture with artist Jim Russell. Open from 11.00am to 4.00pm both days.


This Saturday at the Market Place Theatre Armagh, ‘Celtic Soul’ pay homage one of the truly great singer songwriters of all time, Mr. Van Morrison. Receiving critical acclaim from devout Van fans wherever they perform, you’ll hear the big hits like  ‘Jackie Wilson Said’, ‘Days Like This’, and of course ‘Brown Eyed Girl’.  You’ll also hear ‘Ballerina’, ‘Cyprus Avenue’, and ‘In The Garden’ among many others in a packed show.


Enniskillen Film Club present Ida this Wednesday 25th  at the Regal.   An astonishing work, both graceful and haunting, the film’s beautiful black-and-white imagery is so artfully composed that every frame belongs in an exhibition and winner of Best Film, London Film Festival 2013


This Friday 27th February Seo Linn perform live at the Glenavon House Hotel in Cookstown, supported by the Glackin family. Ticket are only £10. Doors open 8.15pm.


From the Great Wall of China to packed auditoriums in the Holy Land and more recently being the first Irish band to perform at the greatest music festival in the world, ‘Rock in Rio on front of an estimated audience of two hundred and forty thousand people, Dervish have come a long way in seventeen years. Formed in 1989 by a group of five musicians, Liam Kelly, Shane Mitchell, Martin McGinley, Brian McDonagh and Michael Holmes , they have gone on to become one of Ireland’s best loved traditional/folk groups. See Dervish perform this Friday evening at the Millennium Forum. Tickets £17.50.


On February 25th, 26th, 27th February, Larne Drama Circle will bring E. Nesbit’s “The Railway Children” to the stage of the McNeill Theatre, Larne at 7:30pm each evening. Tickets are available from Larne Visitor Information Centre on 028 2826 0088 and online at www.larnedramacircle.co.uk.


The Quirky Weddings Alternative Wedding Fair is back at the Waterfront Hall on Sunday March 1st 2015, from 12-5pm.  At Quirky Weddings they do things a little differently! They have handpicked an excellent line up of over 120 wedding vendors who are fun, friendly and very talented. There will be rockabilly hair, stylish stationery, vintage and unusual transport, jaw-droppingly-good cakes, cool venues, slick suits, non-cheesy bands and DJs, dress designers, bridal boutiques and so much more. Everything you could need for planning your wedding…but a little bit different. It all takes place in a laid back environment with the emphasis on asking questions and finding new ideas.

Ahoy Buccaneers and Pirate Fans – Have a Swashbuckling Easter in Bangor!

Want to be a pirate or a princess for the day? This Easter Monday, April 6, pirates will run amok in Bangor! If you would like to join in the fun and take part in the pirate-themed parade, then this is your opportunity to be part of it!

Ahoy Buccaneers and bike fans! Captain Jack Sparrow, John Shayegh meets Andy Perry of Trialstar at the McKee Clock to get ready for the Pirate Easter ‘Egg’ stravaganza Parade and Family Fun Day taking place on Easter Monday 6th April.

The spectacular parade will be taking place at 3pm on Easter Monday when over 200 children and young people from local youth and dance groups across North Down will take part in the spectacular Pirate Parade.  Look out for pirate ships, colourful bands, pirates, dancers and live music.  Led by The Mayor Ards and North Down, this is an extravaganza not to be missed!

The McKee Clock Arena, will play host to a special Moto Trial NI motorbike competition guaranteed to thrill and entertain young and old alike! The Pirates of Bangor marina have run aground and Ireland’s best trials riders will be competing over a challenging course of giant drift wood, treasure chests and even a ship wrecked Galleon in this specially designed, arena show to see who can win the treasure!!

Be prepared to be thrilled as these talented bikers showcase their amazing skills and perform some breath-taking stunts and manoeuvres! Starting at 11am, this spectacular show is not to be missed!

There are plenty of other activities happening around the Town too; Project 24 will be turned into “Pirate 24” for the day, a fun Treasure Island full of pirate-themed crafts, activities and music. Lots of fun for all the family!

And all of this coincides with the opening of the brand new pirate play park at Pickie Fun Park – check out the new park, take a ride on a swan, play in the play park or just have a coffee and relax in the café.

So come on down to Bangor with your family and friends this Easter for lots of family fun. If you would like to take part in the parade, please contact North Down Borough Council on: events@northdown.gov.uk. Help us make this the biggest Pirate Parade ever!

For further information check www.northdowntourism.com


Racist slogans, burning vehicles, and residents forced out of their homes this January. Last year’s annual Human Rights and Racial Equality Benchmarking Report from the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities highlighted 982 racist incidents in 2013-2014 compared with 750 the previous year, an increase of 31%, and in the same period a staggering 47% increase in racist crimes.

One pioneering theatre company, based in East Belfast, is tackling the subject head on with a dramatic production touring Northern Ireland from 11 March. Building on the success of last year’s Arrivals about new immigrants to Northern Ireland, Terra Nova Productions now turns the spotlight on the next generation in Arrivals2, offering audiences five new plays, with four professional intercultural actors, and music by Anthony Toner, all in one evening. This time, the focus is on Northern Irish people who just happen to have a parent who was born somewhere else in the world.

Terra Nova Productions is Northern Ireland’s only professional intercultural theatre company, set up by Indian-born Canadian Director, Andrea Montgomery.

“The Terra Nova intercultural mission is fundamental to tackling the issue of racism,” says Andrea. “Our ethos of working from the ground up, and involving everyone who doesn’t normally get onto the mainstream stage, ensures that. But make no mistake, we don’t create ‘issues theatre’. When you come to see Arrivals2 you’re coming to see great, intriguing, funny and moving stories that just happen to be intercultural.”

Inspired by Real People

Montgomery and Company Manager, Tom Finlay, and four trained intercultural facilitators have spent months working with people all across Northern Ireland. This fed into opportunities to join a three-day intercultural masterclass with the playwrights and professional actors that gave the Arrivals2 writers their creative stimulus.

“They wrote whatever inspired them,” says Montgomery. “It’s a wild mix.”

In Arrivals2, you will have the opportunity to experience a haunted house; a budding romance; the challenging first meeting between a long lost half-brother and sister; a funny and terrifying monologue set on the hills outside Belfast; and a drunken Halloween party where God might just be one of the party guests.

Poets James Meredith (Newtownabbey) and Deirdre Cartmill (Tyrone) who made such successful contributions to Arrivals last year have both written new pieces for Arrivals2. They are joined by award-winning actress Maggie Cronin who has appeared across our stages and screen, including 2011 Oscar-winning short film The Shore by Terry George and is now turning her hand to playwriting; emerging Belfast writer Fionnuala Kennedy, whose first play Hostel was successfully toured by Kabosh Theatre Company; and award-winning Armagh writer for stage and screen Daragh Carville (Language Roulette, This Other City, Middleton and Cherry Bomb).

The Four Actors

Director Andrea Montgomery has cast Northern Irish actress Louise Parker; mixed-race London actress Melissa Dean whose mother is from Ardoyne, emigrated from Belfast in the 1970s, and whose father is from the Caribbean; and second generation black British actors Robert Bertrand whose family is from St Lucia, and Nathanael Campbell whose family is from Jamaica.  Dean, Bertrand and Campbell fly in to start rehearsal on 22 February.

Gilly Campbell, Drama specialist at the Arts Council, said:

“With racism described as the ‘new sectarianism’ in Northern Ireland, it’s hugely important that there are productions like Arrivals2 that are taking on the big social issues and confronting the challenges raised by prejudice. This is art responding directly to the broader social context we find ourselves in today, exposing our preconceptions and bringing people and communities closer together in the most engaging and compelling of ways, through drama and storytelling.”

Northern Ireland tour

Arrivals2 can be enjoyed by audiences across Northern Ireland in March 2015, at the Crescent Arts Centre (11th-14th), Strand Arts Centre (15th), Riverside Theatre, Coleraine (18th), Strule Arts Centre, Omagh (19th), Playhouse, Derry/Londonderry (20th), Market Place Theatre, Armagh (21st), Down Arts Centre (22nd), Courtyard Theatre, Newtownabbey (25th), Old Courthouse, Antrim (26th), Ards Arts Centre (27th) and Island Arts Centre, Lisburn (28th).

For more information and booking details, visit www.terranovaproductions.net/arrivals2

Arrivals 2 is produced by Terra Nova Productions supported by Accidental Theatre and funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, OFMDFM, Community Relations Council, Community Arts Partnership’s PICAS programme, and the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland.

Jake the Snake Charmer celebrates St. Patrick’s Day @ Navan

Patrick coming to Armagh and the existence of Navan Fort go hand in hand and so it is only fitting that you chose the Navan Centre & Fort as one of your must see places this St. Patrick’s Day.

On Saturday 14th March, enjoy a very different celebration of St. Patrick as we dramatise why Patrick chose Armagh as the site of his first stone church.

In the Iron Age Dwelling relive how the young Patrick was placed in a slave collar and led to the sacred mound to begin life as a shepherd.

Make your very own snake mask before meeting with Our ‘Jake the snake charmer’.  He might help to clarify if Patrick really banish snakes from Ireland!

Shows at 11.00am, 1.00pm, & 3.00pm.  Admission just £6.50 per person and under 4’s are free.  Pre-booking is essential for all tickets, including complimentary places required for children under 4 years. Book tickets online at www.armagh.co.uk/patrick

For information please contact: Navan Centre & Fort, 81 Killylea Road, Armagh.  BT60 4LD.  Tel 028 3752 9644 or www.navan.com

Sarah Braves Beautiful Benone to Launch NICHS’s Run to Remember Sunset Run

Local TV presenter Sarah Travers braved the freezing conditions along with Northern Ireland Chest, Heart & Stroke’s Fundraising Director Kerry Anderson to call for runners (or walkers) to join them at NICHS’s Run to Remember at Benone 10km/5km on 14th March 2015.

Run to Remember Benone took place in September 2013 and attracted 120 participants and raised over £10,000.  NICHS are delighted to announce the run is back and it’s bigger and better than before, with local Celebrity Sarah Travers taking part in the 5k run.  Sarah would like to encourage as many as possible to take part on the day and fundraise for NICHS who have many services throughout the North Coast.
Sarah said  “Yesterday I was walking along Portstewart Beach and the weather was delightful, if a bit cold, and today we were faced with snow, sleet and stormy winds!  But it is all worth it to help launch such a worthy charities event, Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke Run to Remember at Benone.  Coming from the area I absolutely love what’s on offer here on the North Coast and Benone is one of those gems.  I am really looking forward to taking part on the day, even though I might walk a bit of it!  And the weather today must be a sign of a good day come on 14th March.  All you need to do is visit www.nichs.org.uk/benone and click the link to register then you will receive your fundraising pack and the event details.  I hope to see you all there!”

NICHS are looking for runners or walkers to either run to remember someone they’ve lost to a chest, heart or stroke illness or for a friend or family member who is living with one of these conditions every day.

Kerry Anderson, Direct or of Fundraising explains “Run to Remember at Benone  is about remembering the 20 people who die every day in Northern Ireland from chest, heart or stroke illnesses as well as these conditions.  The money you raise is used by us for the care and prevention of chest, heart and stroke illnesses in your local area.”

Kerry continued “We work with people who have these conditions and their families, offering crucial practical and emotional support at what can be one of the most difficult times of their lives. Our support groups provide an opportunity for people to come together and share experiences while benefitting from a structured programme of activities including rehabilitation, exercise and information about their conditions. We do health promotion work in schools, with the homeless and in the workplace. We fund research relating to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. And we campaign at Assembly level for the people who are affected by these conditions and their families. So thank-you so much for the money you are raising. It will really make a difference.”

To Register:


For further information on Run to Remember:

Tel: 028 9032 0184

Address: 21 Dublin Road, Belfast, BT2 7HB



Armagh City & District Council in partnership with the Craft & Design Collective invite you to apply for participation in Armagh Craft Fair 2015.

Now in its fifth year, ‘Armagh Craft Fair’ is getting bigger and better and this year the fair is on the move to a brand new location! Armagh Craft Fair will take place in the splendour of the historic Primates Palace, Palace Stables and Chapel within 300 acres of beautiful parkland in the heart of the historic city of Armagh on Saturday 23rd May. The Craft Fair offers fantastic opportunities for craft makers and designers to showcase their talents with more stalls more indoor and outdoor craft demonstrations and workshops.

This high quality event offers something for everyone from beautiful and affordable handmade craft from makers across Ireland, free craft demonstrations, free craft exhibitions, hands on workshops for children and adults, great food, musical and children’s entertainment and much more…. You may apply to take a stand as part of the Craft Fair, to provide a demonstration, to provide a workshop, OR ALL 3.

Further information and an application form can be downloaded from www.armagh.co.uk or www.marketplacearmagh.com

10 Exciting Things to do in NI Next Week

The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) has put together a list of 10 exciting things to do in Northern Ireland next week (February 23- March 1).

  • Open Night at Armagh Planetarium, College Hill, Armagh, Co Armagh, February 24. To experience the marvels of the Universe you should see them for yourself with your own eyes so Armagh Planetarium will be hosting a public telescope viewing session. Visitors will be fascinated by the views of the Moon, planets and deep sky objects through a high quality telescope.
  • Family Month at Titanic Belfast, Queen’s Road, Belfast until February 28. Get your thinking cap on during Family Month and make your way round the kid’s Explorer Trail through the Titanic Belfast Galleries, discovering a whole host of characters along the way. Plus there will be lots of other fun activities for all ages throughout the weekend.
  • Run Forest Run Winter Race Series, Castlewellan Forest Park & Peace Maze, County Down, February 28. Enjoy this running event with a difference. Born2run organise great races in great places and this one is no different as it will be taking place in Castlewellan Forest Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty.
  • Beoga, Duncairn Centre for Culture & Arts, Belfast, February 28. Enjoy an evening of bluesy riffs and raunchy New Orleans jamboree vibes. The result is traditional, with a huge sense of fun and adventure and it all works wonderfully well.
  • Neil Delamere -The Fresh Prince of Delamere, Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, February 27. Described by The Scotsman as “a master”, Delamere is renowned for his on-stage banter and quick-witted, well-observed yarns.  Previous tours and international appearances include the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival.
  • Isla Grant ‘From the Heart Tour’, The Alley Theatre, Strabane, Co Tyrone, February 28. Scotland’s most popular singer-songwriter Isla Grant makes a welcome return to Ireland for a traditional tour.  Her highly entertaining concert show features all her wonderful hit songs. Isla’s interaction with her audience is second to none and the atmosphere at her live shows is electric.
  • Bookends Tribute Show, Simon and Garfunkel – Through the Years, Down Arts Centre, 2-6 Irish Street, Downpatrick, Co Down, February 22. Bookends return following a sell out run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Receiving 4 stars from Broadway Baby the show sees Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel give their personal accounts of their rise to fame. Bookends perform as no other Simon & Garfunkel act can, with just a single guitar and two voices.
  • NI Science Festival, Innovation Centre, Queen’s Road, Belfast (and other locations), until March 1. Feed your curiosity and celebrate the wonders of science, technology, engineering and maths with over 70 exciting and fact filled events at the first Science Festival in Northern Ireland.
  • Cat The Musical, Courtyard Theatre, 585 Doagh Road, Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, February 23-28. Dave was in the original cast of CATS. On opening night he was sacked. He was not a happy pussy… After a sold out run at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, this brand new comedy about the greatest musical theatre star that never got to shine finally makes it to The Courtyard Theatre. Starring Gerard McCarthy.
  • Snowdrop Walks, Springhill, Moneymore, Magherafelt, Co Londonderry, until March 1. As winter melts away take a self-guided walk through Springhill’s glorious display of snowdrops and enjoy a delicious tea and scone in the Servants’ Hall Tea-Room. Snowdrop plants also available to buy.

Please note some of the events require pre-booking.

Jacqueline from whatsonni.com shares her pick of what’s on this weekend across NI


Join Krafty Kids every Saturday until the end of March at Ards Arts Centre for some  hands-on, fun filled, art packed class for Saturday morning creative adventures such a  Pirates of the High Seas, Cowboys and Indians adventures and more.  Try a different adventure each week! Suitable for 5 – 11 years


Ecology Sunday Salute to Spring takes place this Sunday  22nd February from 11.00am – 3.00pm.  Enjoy this free event at the Navan Fort Centre celebrating the arrival of Spring looking at flowers, plants, insects, bird calls and much more. Take a ‘plant identification’ walk and even get to plant your own seeds and bulbs. This is a FREE, drop in event.


Gluten Free Ireland and The Westville Hotel are hosting a Gluten Free Food event in the hotel on Saturday, 21st February.  Come along and sample some of the delicious gluten free foods currently on the market from leading Coeliac friendly manufacturers.  There will also be gluten free lagers to try and lots of foods to buy.


Movie Magic returns to the Strule Arts Centre this Saturday 21st February with How to Train Your Dragon 2! It’s been five years since Hiccup and Toothless successfully united dragons and Vikings on the island of Berk.  While Astrid, Snotlout and the rest of the gang are challenging each other to dragon races (the island’s new favourite contact sport), the now inseparable pair journey through the skies, charting unmapped territories and exploring new worlds.  Screenings at 11.30am and 1.30pm.


Animation Antics at An Carn Maghera, is a 6 week workshop for 8+ in animation production from making models to making movies.  An exciting opportunity to take part in a project showcasing what YOU can do with the new skills on offer – learn how to make models, animate in digital and stop-motion techniques, timelapse and photosphering!  They will look at the editing process and special effects used in film production.  All materials and equipment provided – just turn up and make some magic!  Booking essential. Classes begin this Saturday 21st February.


Newtownabbey Youth Theatre in association with Mr Hullabaloo presents Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr. at Theatre at the Mill from 17th to 22nd February. Celebrate with Theatre at the Mill in this 5th Anniversary production and sing along to some of the shows hit songs including ‘Part of Your World, ‘She’s in Love’, and the Oscar-winning ‘Under the Sea.


God of Carnage at the Mac, “A comedy of manners, without the manners,” is brand new show by Prime Cut Productions and the MAC.  What happens when two sets of parents meet up to deal with the unruly behaviour of their children?  A calm and rational debate between grown-ups about the need to teach kids how to behave properly? Or a hysterical night of name-calling, tantrums and tears before bedtime?  Boys will be boys, but adults are usually worse – much worse. Runs until Saturday 21st February.


One of Northern Ireland’s emerging chefs has been appointed by the new owners to head up the kitchens at Ardtara Country House….with buffalo meat top of his menu.

Eddie Attwell, 28, twice a Roux scholarship finalist, and who once worked in the kitchens at L’Enclume, a Michelin two-star restaurant in the English Lake District, was recruited by Browns Restaurant Group which has taken over the award winning 19th century manor on the edge of the Sperrin Mountains.

Co-owner & Head Chef of The Browns Group, Ian Orr said: “He has been on my radar for some time, probably since his first scholarship in 2012.  He is innovative, exciting and passionate and just the sort of chef we need to maintain the Browns level of food and service at Ardtara”.

Ardtara, just outside the village of Upperlands, formerly the home of the Clark family, the world famous linen makers, is one of Northern Ireland finest rural accommodation and dining establishments and the choice of Attwell as head chef will be central to its future development with his new menu an important feature.

Attwell, originally from Craigavon, spent almost eight years in England after he left catering college.  It was during his time at L’Enclume where he learned to grow herbs and forage. Dan Cox, executive chef at Claridges in London was one of his mentors and with eight acres of adjoining land, Ardtara’s chef wasted no time finding wild vegetables, including three types of mushrooms.

And he has already come up with his first meat speciality – prime cuts of water buffalo from a herd reared on a farm two miles from Magherafelt.  Milk from the animals will also be used to make butter and cheese.

He said: “This is an unbelievable opportunity for me to make a major statement as a chef.  Ardtara is the first place which I can really call home. I’m the person in charge.  The buck stops with me and I’m out to make a serious impression.”

“I will be drawing heavily on local produce. I think I’ll be the first chef anywhere in Ireland who will be serving water buffalo.  That should make for

interesting times and the fact that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in my career growing and foraging will be an enormous benefit.  There is plenty of mushrooms in the grounds at Ardtara and I plan to have my own garden to grow the herbs.

“It’s all about natural cooking and creating the right flavours.  I’ve even been down to the shores of Strangford Lough to find a few varieties of sea herbs.”

Attwell who moved to his new job after a year at the Schoolhouse Restaurant, near Comber, Co Down added: “This is a massive challenge for me, it really is. Ian is a brilliant chef in his own right. He has placed his faith in me and I’m determined not to let him down.”

Orr who worked as a chef with the late Robbie Millar at Shanks near Bangor, and also at the River Café in London where Jamie Oliver first started, launched his restaurant business six years ago with co-owner Marcus Roulston.  There are two Browns restaurants in Londonderry/Derry and one in Letterkenny and the purchase of their new premises in the Mid Ulster countryside represents another big investment.

Managing director Roulston said: “The purchase of Ardtara is part of the group’s long term strategy. It’s an establishment with a long and distinguished history, representing all that is good in first class accommodation and fine dining and having Eddie in charge of the kitchen is massively important for us. He is such an exciting young chef.”

The buffalo meat is coming from a herd reared by Michael O’Brien, a former beef farmer who decided four years ago to switch from cattle and develop a new commercial enterprise.

“Friends and neighbours agreed to take part in tasting sessions and the response has been 99.9% positive,” he said. “They loved it, especially the burgers which are low on fat and full of protein.”

Food critic Joris Minne said Orr had been instrumental in raising the North West culinary reputation in the last three years and his choice of Attwell to take charge of the kitchen will be key, he claimed.

He added:  His arrival at Ardtara has already prompted glowing reviews from some of Belfast’s and Dublin’s most respected food bloggers. Ardtara represents the core of Ulster traditions and culture and Attwell’s cooking relies on the best local produce available. This means game, fish, beef, pork and poultry to rival anything in Ireland.”

Over the past 20 years, Ardtara Country House has hosted ‘romantic couples’, ‘golfing heroes’, ‘Nobel prize winners’, ‘Olympic  champions’, ‘Hollywood celebrities’, as well as thousands of loyal locals while garnering kudos from discerning reviewers such as:

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER  (“One of the five best hotels in the country”),

The AA (“Most Romantic Hotel of the Year”),

CONDE NAST TRAVELER (“Offers superb fare and sublimely comfortable rooms each with a glowing fireplace”).

Ardtara has been a member of the prestigious ~Ireland’s Blue Book~ since 2004 (a collection of Irish Country House Hotels, Manor Houses, Castles and Restaurants);