Frighteningly Funny Comedy tops the bill this October in Cookstown

Seann Walsh tops the bill at this year’s exciting Cookstown Comedy Festival, in its new diary slot of 5th – 7th October in a line–up which also includes Andrew Maxwell, and May McFettridge in a brand new comedy drama, ‘Dirty Dusting’.

The ‘Lie-in King’ Seann Walsh takes to the Burnavon stage on Saturday 7th October for the first time with a brand new show. Described by The Guardian as “unquestionably the best observational comic of his generation”, however dishevelled he may be, the Foster’s Comedy Award nominee is also one of the best comics in the country. With a keen observational mind, Seann can spot the absurdity in everything and convert it to perfectly delivered stand-up comedy.

You might have seen Seann on TV, but he’s something else live – pacing the stage, working the room and reducing crowds to hysterics. Even if he’d probably rather be at home watching Sky Sports News. Team captain of Channel 4 and E4’s Virtually Famous and regular on ITV’s Play to the Whistle. As seen on BBC1’s Live at the Apollo, ITV’s Jonathan Ross Show and Tonight at The London Palladium, ITV 2’s Celebrity Juice, Channel 4’s 8 Out Of 10 Cats and Alan Carr: Chatty Man, Comedy Central’s Russell Howards Stand Up Central, he’s one headliner not to miss. Tickets are £16.

Renowned for his cutting edge comedy and intrepid social commentary, Andrew Maxwell is also the recognisable voice of MTV’s hit show ‘Ex on the Beach’, which is now in its sixth series. As seen on Live at the Apollo (BBC One), Have I Got News For You (BBC One), Celebrity Juice (ITV2) and Mock The Week (BBC Two). He is also the voice of Get Your Tats Out: Kavos Inc (Channel 5).

Throughout his career, Andrew has had many sell-out shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and has also performed at The Amnesty / Channel Four’s Secret Policeman’s Ball (alongside Eddie Izzard, Chevy Chase and Dylan Moran), Glastonbury, Kilkenny’s Cat Laughs, The HBO US Comedy & Arts Festival in Las Vegas (alongside Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock), and several appearances at the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival. Tickets for Andrew’s gig on Friday 6th October are £16.

When three cleaners, Olive, Gladys and Elsie, are threatened with redundancy they feel that their lives are coming to an end until a chance wrong number gives them a new business start-up idea – why not run a telephone sex line? They’ve got motive, opportunity and a lifetime of experience – some more than others, mind you.

Provided Elsie can teach the other two a few new tricks there’s no reason why they can’t get rich quick providing they can keep their operation a secret from their bosses… and their husbands…and their children…and their grandchildren.

A searing indictment of ageism in the 21st Century heavily disguised as a hysterical, laugh-out-loud, heart-warming comedy, ‘Dirty Dusting’ starring May McFettridge is on Thursday 5th October, and tickets (limited availability) are £19.50.

All shows start at 8pm and tickets can be purchased at the Burnavon Box Office, Burn Road, Cookstown; by telephone on 028 8676 9949 or online at


The SSE Arena, Belfast: Friday 25th May 2018   Tickets go on-sale Thursday 5th October at 9am


Using State of the Art Technology, Game of Thrones® Composer Ramin Djawadi Will Take Fans Of The Acclaimed, Emmy® Award-Winning HBO® Show Through The Seven Kingdoms Spanning Seven Seasons In A New, Immersive Experience.

Ramin Djawadi will lead an Orchestra, Choir and Soloists To Hit 45 Cities Throughout Europe and North America, including Belfast.

THE NEW YORK TIMES – “A symphonic spectacular.”

LOS ANGELES (September 26, 2017) – The critically acclaimed Game of Thrones® Live Concert Experience Featuring Ramin Djawadi will bring the world of Westeros to The SSE Arena, Belfast on Friday 25th May giving fans the opportunity to watch in wonder as famed composer Ramin Djawadi leads an orchestra and choir performing music from all seven seasons of the iconic, Emmy® Award-winning HBO series. Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience Featuring Ramin Djawadi will include new music and footage from Season 7, as well a new custom stage design and mesmerizing visuals courtesy of state of the art video technology.

“Bringing the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience to audiences earlier this year was a dream come true, dating back to an idea hatched over three years ago,” said Djawadi. “The scale and spectacle of the production brought the world of Westeros to life in a truly immersive fashion, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share the experience with fans not only in North America again, but also to cross the narrow sea for the first time and bring the show to Europe.”

The inaugural run of the Game of Thrones® Live Concert Experience Featuring Ramin Djawadi kicked off in North American in February of 2017 after being conceived by Djawadi three years ago. The show was praised by fans and critics alike as a must-see spectacle for fans of the television series. The Guardian described the show as “Westeros brought to dazzling life.” Mashable called it “an epic musical journey,” while the New York Times praised it as “a symphonic spectacular.”

As rich as the stories, intrigue and world of Game of Thrones®, Ramin’s celebrated music for the show has resonated with fans from the very beginning, as the meticulously constructed songs underscored the emotional weight of key moments between beloved characters, lent scale to massive battle sequences and brought to life songs referenced in George R.R. Martin’s books.  Ramin’s relentlessly popular title track alone has become an instantly recognizable pop culture phenomenon in its own right.

“Building upon the incredible response we received from the first tour earlier this year, Game of Thrones fans are in for a treat when the updated version of the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience makes its debut in Europe and then returns to North America next year,” said Jeff Peters, Vice President of Licensing and Retail at HBO. “The Game of Thrones fan base reaches all corners of the globe, so we are excited a wider international audience will now be able to experience Ramin’s extraordinary talent.”

The tour, produced and promoted exclusively by Live Nation in partnership with HBO Global Licensing, will continue to use innovative music tour production and video technology that will recreate the various realms found throughout Westeros and Essos as well as showcase footage from the show in addition to new imagery created exclusively for the upcoming 45 tour dates. Beginning its journey on May 8th in Madrid, the tour will visit 20 European cities throughout May and June. The North American leg will kick off 25 tour dates on September 5th in Vancouver and conclude on October 14th in Toronto.

Ramin Djawadi’s previous credits include the Grammy®-nominated score for Marvel’s 2008 blockbuster, Iron Man. Other film credits include Pacific RimClash Of The Titans and Warcraft.  In addition to Game Of Thrones®, Ramin also garnered Emmy® Award nominations for other television projects including the hit HBO® series WestworldFlash Forward (ABC) and Prison Break (FOX).  Among Ramin’s upcoming projects is the highly anticipated new film The Mountain Between Us, due for release in October.

Based on the bestselling fantasy book series by George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones® is an epic story of treachery and nobility set on the continent of Westeros, where summers and winters can last years, and only the lust for power is eternal.  The Emmy®- and Golden Globe Award-winning series has captured the imagination of fans globally, making it one of the most popular shows on television.

Belfast tickets go on sale Thursday 5th October via:

The SSE Arena, Belfast Box Office: Tel. 02890 739074
Book On Line:

Ticketmaster: In person: From 100 Ticketmaster Outlets Nationwide
By Telephone (24 Hour):   0844 277 44 55 (ROL: 0818 719300)
Book On Line:


Nights On Broadway

You can no longer see the Bee Gees, but you can see ‘Nights On Broadway’ at Theatre at The Mill on Friday 6 October and still experience a concert of the incredible music written by the brothers Gibb.

‘Nights On Broadway’ presents a tribute to the Bee Gees through their catalogue of hits over four decades from the 60s to the 90s.  The full live band blend the classic hits, acoustic medleys and dance floor fillers which define the show.

Known also as ‘The Irish Bee Gees’, all the performers are from Ireland with the exception of their new UK Musical Director, J Black. This live concert experience prides itself on music, in particular vocal authenticity, while the accompanying costume changes compliment the show to give audiences a truly original feeling.

Whether you favor the golden era of the 60s, the dance floor hits of the 70s, the comeback hits of the 80s & 90s or the string of hits they wrote for various artists along the way, this show has something to entertain everyone from the novice to the most discerning fan.

Tickets from Box Office T: 028 9034 0202 or online at



Jacqueline shares her pick of what’s on this week across NI


Bring the family to Exploris Aquarium this Sunday 1st October to celebrate World Animal Day.  Enjoy all the animal based fun on offer and learn all about the underwater and reptilian friends though discovery pool demos, seal and otter feedings plus lots more fun animal based activities throughout the day. Let the little ones dive into the soft play zone and then relax after a fun filled day in The Craken cafe and restaurant.


The Assistant’s Revenge is a detective story for children and adults, a murder mystery with a magical twist. This Saturday 30th September at the Market Place Studio Theatre with an unreserved, tiered seating layout.


This Saturday at Cathedral Hall Enniskillen, enjoy a screening of one of the most iconic children’s films, The Railway Children, which all the family will enjoy.  Part of Fermanagh Film Club’s weekend to commemorate the closure of rail services in Fermanagh. Screening at 11.00am. Admission is free.


The Light for Life Event at Loughmacrory Lough in aid of Care for Cancer takes place this Friday 29th September.   Come and celebrate the lives who have passed from or are currently living with cancer.  The twilight walk around the lough starts at 8.00pm with registration from 7.00pm. Lights for all participants, with music and refreshments.  This is a family friendly event – everyone welcome including dog walkers.


The Guildhall Derry City Wedding Fayre, in association with Perfect Bliss Wedding Shows takes place this Sunday October 1st from 2pm until 5pm with mini fashion shows throughout the day along with a grand prize draw.


Celebrate World Animal Day this Sunday at Carnfunnock Park.  Join Debbie Doolittle as she introduces some of Northern Ireland’s most magical mammals. With special guest appearances from Mrs. Fox and her friends, spend the afternoon with Debbie as she teaches all about these mammals and how you can help them. 2.00pm to 4.30pm.  £2.75 per adult, £2.25 per child/concession. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear.  Booking is advisable. All children must be accompanied by an adult.   Contact: Carnfunnock Country Park on 028 2826 2471.


Monster Manor is back at W5!  And it’s even spookier than last year! The singing pumpkins, dancing skeletons, floating ghosts, witches and monsters have been joined by some new phantom friends this year. Some new rooms have been uncovered in the mansion where new scares await! It may be really spooky and a little bit eerie, but Monster Manor is a whole lot of fun. This Autumn, are you and your family brave enough to discover what lurks within MONSTER MANOR?  Weekends from 30th September, daily from 28th October – 5th November.

For more details on these events and to add your events free go to Follow us on twitter @whatsonNI and on facebook at for news, competitions and what’s on near you.

Jam-packed schedule of events planned for 5th City of Derry International Choir Festival, 25-29 October

The City of Derry International Choir Festival has launched the full programme of events for its fifth edition, due to take place from 25-29 October.

City of Derry International Choir Festival Launch
The Mayor of Derry, Councillor Maoliosa McHugh, Donal Doherty, Artistic Director of the Festival, and Derry-born singer Laura Sheerin who performed at the launch of the 5th City of Derry International Choir Festival in St Columb’s Hall.
Mandatory Credit ©Lorcan Doherty

The city will welcome over 50 choirs to take part in concerts, competitions, workshops and community performances across the 5-day festival, with singers traveling from Denmark, Estonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and throughout Ireland and the UK to take part in the jam-packed schedule of events.

Music lovers will be treated to concerts by award-winning choir and one of the world’s leading vocal ensembles, Tenebrae, Swedish a cappella quintet The Real Group and the young “atmosfolk” duo Saint Sister, currently taking the Irish and international music scene by storm with their mix of vocal harmonies, synth and electro-acoustic harp.

The festival will feature an evening gala concert with the newly-formed 2017 Festival Chorus, a choir made up of more than 100 singers from many of the local choirs in the city and conducted by Artistic Director of the festival, Dónal Doherty. This brand new ensemble will give a performance of the hugely popular Rutter Gloria and will be joined by award-winning local chamber choir Codetta and the Ulster University Chamber Choir, accompanied by renowned organist Catherine Ennis, in the stunning surroundings of the Guildhall.

Participating choirs will compete in more than 10 categories of competition throughout the festival, including school, equal voice, mixed voice, youth choir, popular, jazz, gospel and sacred music and the highlight of the festival will see seven international competitors battle it out to win the prestigious ‘Oak Tree of Derry’ trophy and a cash prize of £2,000 in the International Competition.

In addition to its impressive evening concert series, the festival will host a number of pop-up performances on its Choral Trail in venues including Foyleside Shopping Centre, The Craft Village, City Hotel, Ollie’s of Ebrington, the Railway Station, Foyle Hospice, Altnagelvin Hospital, Ardnashee School and more on Friday 27, Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 October. A number of churches will also host visiting choirs for Sunday service on the morning of Sunday 29 October in the festival’s Sacred Trail.

An exciting new development as part of the fifth edition of the festival will see the launch of a series of conducting masterclasses in partnership with the Ulster University School of Creative Arts and Technologies. Each session will be led by a member of the festival’s international panel of adjudicators with the Chamber Choir of the Ulster University as the resident choir. Sessions will include discussion on choral training, conducting technique, score preparation, repertoire selection and choir management. Applications are now open for participants via

As well as conducting masterclasses, the festival will host 3 Big Sing workshops in St. Columb’s Hall for primary schools, post-primary schools and an open session for all (Saturday 28 October). These entertaining and fun workshops explore the building blocks of successful choral singing and are led by inspiring performers from the festival programme.

Fiona Crosbie, Festival Manager, says, “We are very excited to be announcing such a fantastic programme of events for this year’s festival. We have a brilliant line-up of participating choirs who will feature in venues across the city from 25 – 29 October so there’s a chance for everyone to experience the music-making on offer and join in the celebration of singing!”

Tickets are now on sale for all festival events and can be purchased at the Millennium Forum. For all festival details please visit


The SSE Arena, Belfast: Friday 4th to Sunday 6th May

Live show will transport fans straight into the world of Fast & Furious recreating the most awe-inspiring moments from the movies along with new stunts and story

  • Fast & Furious Live brings audiences closer than ever before to this extension of Universal Pictures’ record-breaking film franchise
  • World premiere on 19 January 2018 at London’s O2 arena will kick off global tour starting in Europe
  • Arena tour to make additional stops in 23 cities in 14 countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and UK


Tickets will go on sale Friday 29th September at 9am via:

The SSE Arena, Belfast Box Office: Tel. 02890 739074
Book On Line:

Ticketmaster: In person: From 100 Ticketmaster Outlets Nationwide
By Telephone (24 Hour):   0844 277 44 55 (ROL: 0818 719300)
Book On Line:


London: 21 September 2017 – Universal Brand Development, Fast Live Productions, MCD Productions and tour producers Live Nation Entertainment today announced that Fast & Furious Live will premiere in London at the world famous O2 Arena on 19 January 2018 before heading to The SSE Arena, Belfast as part of the first leg of the global arena tour. The action and excitement from one of the most popular and enduring film series of all-time will come to life in this ground-breaking live-arena tour.

Creative director and executive producer, Fast & Furious Live, Rowland French said: “It’s been years in the making, and we are beyond excited to finally show fellow fans what we have been creating in order to bring Fast & Furious Live to the global stage. With this mix of extraordinary stunts, special effects, cutting-edge 3D-projection mapping – as well as drivers pushing their own limits — every performance will create an unforgettable experience for the live audience. Twenty-three cities across 14 countries is just the beginning for Fast & Furious Live.”

The adrenaline-fueled, two-hour show is set to be the most spectacular live arena production ever produced, featuring precision performance driving and newly created physics-defying stunts. Using favourite cars and locations that criss-cross the globe along with key scenes from the film series – created via state-of-the-art 3D projection mapping – fans will be transported straight into this immersive extension of the Fast & Furious movies.

Fast & Furious Live will allow audiences worldwide to experience the extreme action sequences from the franchise through an authentic live experience,” said Vince Klaseus, President, Universal Brand Development. “With this live show, we are redefining fan access and bringing audiences closer than ever to their favourite movie moments.”

Audiences will feel the heat from flaming exhausts and marvel at vehicular acrobatics as scene after scene unfolds enhanced by the most advanced digital projection technology imaginable. Featuring several original cars from the films, as well as exact replicas of fan favourites — from Dom’s legendary Dodge Charger to the flip car from Fast & Furious 6, Fast & Furious Live will evoke some of the boldest moments from the franchise.

Thousands of the world’s best stunt performers and drivers applied for the opportunity to join the production and, following extensive auditions, have been whittled down to the ultimate elite team who have started a rigorous 4-month training camp in preparation for the world tour. They will be joined by some of the world’s leading parkour athletes resulting in a truly global cast who will be performing incredible stunts and never-before-seen live action. The cast includes stunt drivers Chris Burns and Jonathon Irwin – both from Northern Ireland.

Executive President Touring International Music, Live Nation, Phil Bowdery said: “As the world’s largest live-entertainment company, we have been part of many incredible shows, but we are especially thrilled to be working on Fast & Furious Live, which will offer fans a spectacle on an unprecedented scale.”

The European tour will debut with a ‘super-charged’ world premiere at London’s O2 arena on 19 January 2018 before heading across the continent to the biggest and best arenas including The SSE Arena in Belfast as well as massive shows in Belgium, Italy, Austria, Germany, Netherlands, France, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark.

Fast & Furious Live tickets will go on sale Friday 29th September at 9am via:

The SSE Arena, Belfast Box Office: Tel. 02890 739074
Book On Line:

Ticketmaster: In person: From 100 Ticketmaster Outlets Nationwide
By Telephone (24 Hour):   0844 277 44 55 (ROL: 0818 719300)
Book On Line:


Presale information:

VIP Packages available at:

Further details can be found at

Belfast Gears Up for Ciclovia Belfast this Sunday!

It’s set to be ‘wheely good fun’ as Ciclovia Belfast gears up to create a traffic free cycle route in the heart of Belfast City for the third time.

The fun, free event is open to everyone, of all ages and abilities on Sunday 24th September 0930 – 12:30pm. There is no need to register.  Simply turn up and enjoy the traffic free cycle!

There will be lots of sporting and creative activities at the two hubs located at Botanic Gardens and Belfast City Hall as well as along the route itself; which runs from Botanic Avenue, Shaftesbury Square, Dublin Road, Bedford Street and Donegall Square West.  Route activity includes; music from Ulster Orchestra, buskers, circus entertainment, athletics, hip hop dancers, bling your bike, BMX demos, a 40 foot haulage truck to educate drivers and cyclists on road safety – plus much more!

Spanish for cycle freeway, Ciclovia Belfast features the closing of a section of streets to allow cyclists, of all ages and abilities, to cycle a traffic-free route. Ciclovia is an international phenomenon with many cities across the globe, including New York and Paris, staging their own version.

The aim of Ciclovia Belfast is to promote community cohesion as well as physical and mental well-being and this year the Ciclovia Belfast team hope to see increased participant numbers.

To help participants get ready for Ciclovia Belfast a range of bike shops in the Greater Belfast area are offering free bikes checks – see website for details. If you want to take part but don’t have a bike – don’t worry you can hire a bike from one of the Belfast Bikes docks located along the Ciclovia Route.

Johnny Davis from Pioneer Group, Ciclovia Belfast event organisers, commented:

“When we piloted Ciclovia Belfast in 2015 we knew from participant feedback that there was a huge appetite for this event. Over the past two years we have seen cyclists of all ages and abilities take to the Belfast streets. We have had young first time cyclists with stabilisers to families on tandems and it has been a joy to watch.  With the help of key partners including Belfast City Council, Public Health Agency and Department For Infrastructure our aim is to make this year’s Ciclovia Belfast the biggest and best yet but we can only do this with the help of the participants.  We hope that lots of people will join us on the cycle freeway on Sunday 24th September and help us make ensure that Ciclovia Belfast 2017 becomes a regular fixture on the city’s event calendar.”


So get on your bike, get your friends on their bikes and cycle traffic-free in the heart of Belfast on Sunday 24th September 0930 – 12:30pm.  Also, there will be an official cycle along the Ciclovia Route with the Lord Mayor of Belfast at 10am at College Park East (McClay Library) entrance to Botanic Gardens.
Make sure you follow Ciclovia Belfast on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @CicloviaBelfast #CicloviaBelfast and We need you to help spread the word and help make this the biggest and best Ciclovia Belfast yet.



Ritchie Remo Rolls into Town

Join one of Ireland’s leading entertainers as he keeps you amused in an evening of songs and craic at Theatre at The Mill on Thursday 21 September.

Ritchie Remo is fast becoming one of the most sought after singers on the Irish country circuit.

With songs such as ‘Hit The Diff’, ‘Honey I’m Good’ and his current single ‘Galway Girls’, there is sure to be something for all the family.

Ritchie and his band roll into Theatre at The Mill, Newtownabbey for part five of the #CountryBoy tour.

This tour also includes a visually spectacular lighting show and as always there will be a surprise or two. Come along and see the show that everyone is talking about.

Tickets are available from Box Office T: 028 9034 0202 or online at


10 things to do in Northern Ireland next week

Discover NorthernIreland has stacks of fun things to do across NI, from family days out to gigs and cultural events. Here are 10 exciting things taking place this week (25 September -1 October)

  1. Locally Produced Beer Cider & Spirit Festival, Newcastle, 30 September. Set in the picturesque Slieve Donard Resort and Spa, this event highlights the best local beer, cider and spirit Northern Ireland has to offer. Local produce will also be available to sample and purchase at the festival. Tickets are £14 and includes three drink tokens and a souvenir glass.
  2. Raising Steam, Cathedral Hall, Enniskillen, 30 September. Headhunters Railway Museum commemorates the 60th Anniversary of the closure of railway services in Fermanagh and bordering counties with events for all the family, including several vintage steam traction engines raising steam once again and a screening of the iconic film, The Railway Children.
  3. The Home Key, Seamus Heaney HomePlace, Derry~Londonderry, 29 September. A special performance from Lisa Hannigan, who is celebrated for her unmistakeable vocals. Her latest album, At Swim, which takes a turn into darker more reflective territory, features an inspired acapella version of Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘Anahorish’ taken from his early collections.
  4. Guitar Night – Thomas Leeb, Belfast, 28 September. The Crescent Arts Centre is delighted to present the first ever Belfast Guitar Night, which will feature the amazing Thomas Leeb. Leeb is a skilled guitar player, with his first solo performance at aged fifteen, he is now a frequent performer at concerts and festivals in Asia, America and Europe.
  5. Murder Mystery Evenings, Cookstown, 29-30 September. Lissan House sets the scene in 1943, when war rages abroad but at the ‘Big House’ the enemy lurks within. There has been a murder but who dunnit? What has ice-cream got to do with it? Fatal attraction, fun and forensics. Come dressed to kill in 1940’s style service or civvies. Tickets include a glass of bubbly on arrival and a hot buffet supper. Book early to avoid disappointment on 028 8676 3312.
  6. Mister Maker, Belfast, 30 September–1 October. CBeebies’ Mister Maker is coming back to the Grand Opera House by popular demand in his smash hit live theatre tour. With a fabulous supporting cast and art at its heart, this fantastic live show encourages Mini Makers and grown-ups to sing, dance and make some noise.
  7. The Unholy Gospel Band, Downpatrick, 29 September. The Unholy Gospel Band is a first in Northern Ireland with its authentic American gospel music delivered live and straight from the soul. Featuring songs by Mahalia Jackson, The Staple Singers, James Brown and many more. See them perform at the Down Arts Centre from 8pm.
  8. The Australian Pink Floyd Show, Belfast, 26 September. The Australian Pink Floyd Show returns to the SSE Arena with a new set of Pink Floyd songs – ‘The Best Side of the Moon’ incorporating a full performance of what many would call the most iconic rock album of all time.
  9. Country comes to the Forum, Derry~Londonderry, 26 September. Millennium Forum Theatre and Conference Centre hosts ‘Country Comes to the Forum.’ A night of entertainment with great country acts, fun and laughter with all proceeds going to a local charity.
  10. Strabane Market, Strabane, 29 September. On the last Friday of every month from April – December, the Alley Theatre will welcome the very best of artisan traders, offering visitors a friendly shopping experience with a wide selection of speciality foods and handmade crafted products.

For more information on these events or to plan a short break in Northern Ireland, visit


Over 700 jobs to be created as work begins on £30m motorsport centre of excellence

PREPARATORY work has now begun on an international motorsport centre of excellence that is set to deliver huge economic benefits and put Northern Ireland on the global racing map.

An estimated 700 jobs will be created in the 18-month construction phase of the £30m Lake Torrent development which will transform 163 acres of former clay pits in Coalisland, County Tyrone, into a world-class motorsport complex with a championship racetrack and motorsport training centre for Northern Ireland.

Up to 80 part-time and temporary positions will also be required to provide ancillary services such as security, engineering, promotions, marketing, etc with significant spin-off benefits for local retailers, transport and accommodation providers.

Approximately 25 full-time jobs will be created on completion to run and maintain the track on a daily basis with an additional 50 staff required on race days.

Earlier this month, Mid Ulster District Council granted planning permission for the first phase of work which includes the race circuit, pits, medical centre, restaurant, hospitality suites, six business units and a crèche, as well as a new public ring road to bypass the town and facilitate easy access in and out of the Lake Torrent centre.

This first phase is due to be completed in early 2019 but the potential for further jobs within the overall complex is also huge with plans for the second phase of works submitted to build a further 90 retail and business units, and a range of community and leisure facilities including a hotel, cinema, theatre and more food outlets.

Talks are also ongoing to develop an apprenticeship programme that will offer specialist skills training on-site across a range of engineering disciplines including welding, fitting and the building and servicing of motorcars and bikes.

Lake Torrent is the brainchild of Manna Developments founder and motor-racing enthusiast David Henderson, who lives in Islandmagee, County Antrim, but whose roots are in County Tyrone.

Speaking today about the development for the first time, Mr Henderson said:  “This is an historic day for the town of Coalisland, the county of Tyrone and for the whole of Northern Ireland as we finally start preparatory work on Lake Torrent, a dream of mine that has been 15 years in the making but is now a reality.

“I would like to offer my thanks for the incredible support of the local community, and in particular to local MP Francie Molloy, without whom we would not be standing here today, and Mid Ulster District Council for listening to and considering our proposals which admittedly must have seemed very ambitious to all concerned,” he added.

“Together our vision is to regenerate Coalisland and the surrounding areas through the creation of an internationally recognised motorsport arena which will become a venue for regional, national and international competitions, aiming ultimately to host events like Super Bike and Saloon Car Championships, attracting up to 30,000 spectators per event.

“At the same time, we will be providing the local community with new opportunities through business, engineering, leisure, increased tourism, job creation, research and development.  So we are filled with a sense of pride to stand here today, cutting the first sods on a project that will drive change and transform lives in the area. 

“Motor racing in Northern Ireland started 90 years ago and is still going strong.  The development of Lake Torrent will extend that into the next 90 years and beyond, providing sustainable local employment both for skilled and unskilled workers into the future,” said Mr Henderson.

MP for Mid Ulster Francie Molloy (Sinn Féin) said:  “This is a great project.  When David first approached me about a site I said I have the ideal place… the clay pits in Coalisland.  He outlined his proposal of a safe motor racing track and all of the associated elements within the centre, and we discussed job creation and skills training for the area.

“Aside from the economic benefits in the construction of Lake Torrent, to have an on-site hotel and thousands of visitors to spread around the hinterland is just magic.  It’s just what we needed and David has the vision and passion to deliver it.”

Welcoming the work starting on site, Councillor Kim Ashton (DUP), Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, said:  “With the beginning of this project comes substantial investment and employment, the rejuvenation of an unused site, and the development of a centre of excellence for motorsport which will attract significant visitor numbers.  I am delighted to see work start and wish Lake Torrent well at this milestone in the project’s development.”

The Lake Torrent site is located within a two-hour drive of most of Northern Ireland and is within easy reach of the M1 Motorway, just a 40-minute drive from Belfast, providing direct access to two International airports and sea ports.

British motorsport design firm Driven International Ltd has been appointed as the race track designer, working alongside a number of local companies including Contract Ground Services (CGS), Clarman Architects, McWilliams & Co Quantity Surveyors, and Maneely & Co Estate Agents.

The track is expected to be an FIA and FIM approved 3.6km (2.2 mile) undulating course, offering 12 turns and a mix of technical and high speed sequences, accompanied by supporting facilities such as pit garages, spectator and hospitality areas.

We would like to thank our team of designers including Driven International and Clarman Architects,” said David Henderson.  “Working with them to refine our plans over the last few months has been a great experience.  

“We set out to invest in the local community and to leave a legacy for the future generations in Coalisland.  Our focus has always been on the creation of jobs in the local area on a short- and long-term basis.  Lake Torrent provides a massive opportunity for young entrepreneurs and small businesses to come to Coalisland and bring in new technology, ideas, and investment into the region, providing opportunities for tourism and businesses to flourish,” he concluded.