Level Up for Young Entrepreneur Success At Belfast Conference

The inaugural conference from the Young Entrepreneurs Network Northern Ireland (YENNI) will take place on Friday, January 31st at Riddel Hall, Belfast, bringing together inspiring speakers and aiming to help drive development of young people’s businesses. 

Entitled ‘Level Up!’ the YENNI conference will see the voluntary organisation take the next stage in its support for 18-30-year-olds interested in business, entrepreneurship, leadership and professional development. 

Pictured ahead of the Young Entrepreneurs Network NI (YENNI) conference on Friday, January 31st at Riddel Hall, Belfast are (from left) sponsor Aaron Furphy (Mourne Management Systems), Katie Matthews (founder, YENNI), Robert McConnell (Get Print) and Chiho Tang (Oranga Creative).

YENNI founder, Katie Matthews, was FSB NI Young Entrepreneur 2018 and was included in the NI 40 Under 40 List last year. “I set up YENNI to support other young entrepreneurs and professionals who have a wealth of potential, but perhaps not the means to pursue their dreams and explore their capabilities,” she said. 

“Our inaugural conference will support the vision to provide a safe space, platform and hub for sharing ideas, connecting, supporting, developing and mentoring the amazingly talented young people of Northern Ireland. I’m delighted that so many inspiring speakers have agreed to take part.” 

Keynote speakers will include FSB Chair, Tina McKenzie, CEO of Grafton Recruitment, Claire Stewart, Chartered Accountant and NI Young Leader of the Year 2019, and Dave Linton, founder of Madlug CIC and the UK’s Entrepreneur for Good 2019. 

“What all of the speakers have shown is determination to succeed, and the desire to take businesses to the next level,” said Katie. 

“Together with the other speakers, leaders and ‘Masterclass’ workshops this is an excellent opportunity to not only learn, but to take the next step in your own development and your business’ growth. 

“Level UP! Aims to educate, evolve, empower and elevate everyone involved. It will bring together like-minded, driven young people who are current or future entrepreneurs, leaders, professionals, leaders, innovators and disruptors for what I am sure will be a day that will change many people’s lives and outlooks.” 

Sponsors for the event include GetPrint, along with Grafton Recruitment, O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors, The Mind Tribe UK, Mourne Management Systems, Ruthless Media, Oranga and Excalibur Press.

The conference will last from 9:30 to 4:30, with tickets priced at £15 via Eventbrite – just search Level Up!

Get Inspired To Blog At Free Event In Omagh Library

Omagh Library will host an inspirational event on Wednesday, January 29th to help aspirational bloggers get ready to share life, experiences, and expertise as well as learning more about managing health and wellbeing.

The event by TrainingMatchmaker.com for Libraries NI is designed to encourage potential bloggers to get started, receive hints, tips and tricks towards success – and share the enjoyment of being a blogger.

The Tyrone Blogging Inspiration event will see transformational speaker, Deborah King talk about her own journey into blogging, as well as a panel of experts who will help you get online to tell your own story.

As part of the Libraries NI ‘New Year New You’ campaign the theme of the January event is health and wellness both online and offline.

Chartered Marketer Christine Watson of TrainingMatchmaker.com, said the event is for both existing bloggers and those that want to dabble for the first time.

She said: “Health literacy and digital skills are now necessary life skills and these continue to grow in importance as more and more everyday activities and sources of information and inspiration move online. 

“Most of us know when we are mentally and physically well, but sometimes we need a little extra support to keep well and guidance in terms of being aware of when we need to take more action.

“The Blogging Inspiration events aim to provide library users with the opportunity to stay informed, tap into the expertise of others ‘on the day’, to encourage socialising with peers on an ongoing basis, and to inspire audiences with real life stories and examples.”

The panel chosen for Omagh library are active local bloggers that specialise in health and wellbeing as their core subject.

Speaker Deborah King began her blogging journey after attending a Get Blogging course by Libraries NI in 2018 and has since spoken at a Get Blogging for Wellness showcase.

“I am thrilled to have been asked to speak again at yet another great #GetBloggingNI session,” she said. “I have just moved to the Tyrone area in the last year and I’m delighted that the Blogging Inspiration Sessions are happening in Omagh.”

After attending her first #GetBloggingNI event Deborah wanted to start her blog right away.

“The start of the library course by Training Matchmaker coincided with me attending a speaking and writing conference in Orlando, Florida. I figured I would talk about my adventures in Orlando but I got writers block and I realised that I had to tell my story and talk about how I got to where I am first.”

She was soon on her way to blogging, publishing her first blog on November 27th, 2018.

“The words that flowed out of my mind, through my pen and onto the page turned out to be a list of things I remember doing which showed the journey I had taken from being someone with depression to now being someone who felt empowered and in control of their life.

“If  one of my blogs helps even one person in any way than that is what I call a successful blog.

“For anyone who is even remotely considering blogging, especially in relation to Health and Wellbeing, I would urge them to do so.” 

Julie Reid, Libraries NI Service Development Manager, added: “Libraries NI is all about promoting an inclusive society, introducing people to new experiences, ideas and reliable information. Libraries give people the opportunity to access a range of free services, health resources and events which can help improve a person’s health and wellbeing.

“The shift to online services, in particular, has changed the way in which we live, work and socialise. It is hoped attendees will come away from the workshop equipped with the knowledge and confidence to engage with the 5 steps to Wellbeing in their daily lives both online and offline.”

The host for the event is Tina Calder, of Content Club and Excalibur Press.

The 90-minute free event runs from 6pm and can be booked through Eventbrite at trainingmatchmaker.eventbrite.com 


Northern Ireland boasts a wonderful collection of places to stay including beautiful B&Bs, luxurious spa hotels and great value self-catering properties. Discover NI has selected the best offers of the week to help you plan a short break.

  • Time well spent at Belmore Court and Motel, Enniskillen from £100

Spend quality time together experiencing Fermanagh’s natural beauty, its many attractions which are packed with history and character; enjoying delicious local food all while making memories to last a life time. Book for minimum of two nights with this offer and save up to £25 per night plus free breakfast. Book seven days prior to arrival to avail of discounts. PREPAY Terms & Conditions apply. To book call 028 6632 6633. Offer available until 29th March (subject to availability).

  • Wonderful winter at the Everglades Hotel, Derry~Londonderry from £45 per person sharing

It may be cold outside but you are always guaranteed a warm welcome in the Everglades Hotel. What better way to relax than by sipping your complimentary cocktail by the roaring fire. This wonderful winter offer includes luxurious overnight accommodation, complimentary cocktail upon arrival, full Irish breakfast, complimentary customer car parking and a Hastings Hotel Duck. To book call 028 7132 1066. Offer available until 29th February (subject to availability).

  • Two night winter escape at the Mellon Country Inn Hotel, Omagh from £176

Escape and indulge in a guilt-free getaway at the Mellon Country Inn Hotel in Omagh. Located in the heart of the Sperrin Mountain region, the hotel is surrounded by plenty of walking trails nearby just waiting to be discovered. This offer includes two nights with bed and breakfast for two people plus afternoon tea for two adults on a day of your choice. To book call 028 8166 1224. Offer available until 29th February (subject to availability).

In the mood for romance at the Market Place Theatre, Armagh

Start your romantic Valentines weekend on Thursday 13 February, with the Viennese Strauss Gala at Armagh’s Market Place Theatre, as they recreate the nostalgia and romance of the Viennese Festive season.

This show introduces the audience to a bygone age of glamorous soirees and Strauss waltzes, and comprises highlights from some of the great operettas of Strauss, Kalman and Lehar, including ‘Die Fledermaus’, ‘The Merry Widow’, and many more.

This fascinating show is performed by soloists from major British Opera companies, such as Opera Welsh National opera, D’Oyle Carte and Scottish Opera, and will feature internationally renowned soprano Megan Llewelyn whose recent roles include Mother Abbess in ‘The Sound of Music’ and Carlotta in the West End production of ‘The Phantom Of The Opera’.

The film screening of the classic ‘When Harry Met Sally’, is the perfect entertainment for Friday’s Valentines night. Starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan we follow a blossoming friendship and Harry’s determination not to destroy it. But when a night of weakness ends in panic, can the pair admit they might just be the perfect match for each other? Admission will include a glass of prosecco.

Then on Saturday 15 February, enjoy the perfect Valentine’s night out with our annual and hugely popular ‘In the Mood’ with The PM Big Band’. They bring a classic mix of vocals and instrumentals from The Great American Song Book including selections from Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Frank Sinatra and other legends from the ageless and ever-popular genre. Adding a little spice, the band will flavour the evening with big band versions of some modern classics ensuring an evening of music to appeal to everyone. 

Tickets for all events can be purchased by contacting the Box Office on [028] 3752 1821, or online at www.marketplacearmagh.com

Keep up-to-date with the latest news at the Market Place Theatre, follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/marketplacearmagh) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/mptarmagh) where you will find all the latest information, special offers and video previews.

Applications now open for the eighth City of Derry International Choir Festival, 21 – 25 October 2020

The City of Derry International Choir Festival has opened applications for participation in the 8th edition of the autumn festival, due to take place from Wednesday 21 October until Sunday 25 October 2020.

City of Derry International Choir Festival 2019 National Youth Choir Competition

Last year’s event (October 2019) was an outstanding success that saw 80 choirs participating in 69 events in 30 venues across the Derry and Strabane region, with audiences of over 15,500 throughout festival week. The festival brought over 2,800 bed-nights to the city, during off-peak season, resulting in ‘House Full’ signs in many of the local hotels, and visitor spend was estimated at over £250k while attending the annual event.

Organisers have already begun planning for 2020 and look forward to welcoming guest performers and choirs from around the world to take part in five days of wonderful choral singing comprising concerts, workshops, choral and sacred trails, competitions and conducting masterclasses.

In addition to the usual format, the festival will introduce two new elements to the 2020 event. Primary schools from across the Northwest will be invited to take part in a BIG SING with a difference, when 1,000 voices will come together for a very special day of workshopping and performing of a brand-new, specially-commissioned piece of music by Belfast composer Brian Irvine. Another new feature of the festival will see the winners of all national competitions go head-to-head in a sing-off to be crowned National Choir of the Festival.

As always, one of the highlights of the festival will be the International Competition, in which selected choirs will compete for the prestigious ‘Oak Tree of Derry’ trophy, as well as a cash prize of £2,000. The quality and range of international choirs participating in this competition is growing each year, and expressions of interest are already in from exciting choirs in Europe and Asia so early applications are recommended to avoid disappointment.

Dónal Doherty, Artistic Director of the festival, says “Festival 2020 is already shaping up to be very exciting, with a strong emphasis on events that will demonstrate the power of music to improve the quality of life for all. This will be a transformative event for the whole city.” Details of how to apply and other festival information is available at www.derrychoirfest.com.

10 things to do in Northern Ireland

Here are ten exciting things taking place 27 Jan – 2 February 2020.

1.       Molson-Coors-Race-Meeting Molson Coors Race Meeting Lisburn, 28 January. See January out in style at their first fixture of 202. Enjoy top quality National Hunt Racing with the very best of Jockeys, Trainers and Horses on display. Plus with Free Admission courtesy of sponsors, it really is a day not to be missed

2.       star-tracker-star-gazing-evening Star Tracker Evenings Armagh, 28 January. Join Armagh Observatory and Planetarium for an evening of Star Tracking. Enjoy a Digital Theatre show chosen by their Director Professor Michael Burton and weather permitting be fascinated by the views of the Night Sky through their 12 inch telescope. They will also have an astronomy talk at 7pm and fulldome show at 8pm.

3.       TRAD Belfast, 31 January – 1 February. Critically acclaimed, sell out hit TRAD from LIVIN’ DRED Theatre Company comes to Lyric Theatre Studio, Belfast on 31st January and 1st February 2020. TRAD is a poignant, absurd and hilarious tale of a 100-year-old Irishman… and his father. TRAD is a story of rural Ireland and its communities, of rural pride and the often complex relationships between father and son.

4.       SimplyE-Exhibition SimplyE Exhibition Armagh, 2 – 31 January. Craftswirl @ Armagh Visitor Information Centre are delighted to showcase a beautiful exhibition by SimplyE for their January exhibition. SimplyE is a maker, designer and a weaver of bespoke leather and weave products for use within the home and fashion industry which are all individually hand woven from her design studio in County Armagh.

5.       Belfast-Gin-School Belfast Gin School Belfast, 25 January – 28 March. Through experiential learning, with master distiller, Ian, you will have the opportunity to see gin being distilled, learn about flavour combinations and make your own. Each participant will receive a goodie bag containing their own miniature bottle of gin to serve with their tonic of choice at home. A great afternoon with gin and cupcakes, what’s not to love?

6.       Lost-Childhood-Exhibition Lost Childhood Exhibition Derry~Londonderry, 2 December 2019 – 31 January 2020. This December, take a trip to the award-winning Museum of Free Derry to see one of their most poignant and affective exhibitions yet, ‘Lost Childhood Exhibition’.

7.       Paranormal-Investigation Paranormal Investigation Belfast, 18 January – 31 March. On this four hour investigation you will be taken to the most active areas in the Gaol and will be given the chance to use equipment as used by experts while conducting your very own ghost hunt. The areas you will visit will include the reception, the condemned man’s cell, execution chamber, the tunnel and the flogging room.

8.       Walled-City-400 Walled City 400 Derry~Londonderry, 18 February 2019 to 31 March 2020. Last year marked the 400th anniversary of the completion of the Derry Walls. Built from 1613-1619, the Walls are the largest ancient monument in Northern Ireland, the only remaining Walled City in Ireland and one of the finest examples of Walled Cities in Europe.

9.       Life-Cycles-by-Lorna-Smyth Life Cycle by Lorna Smyth Enniskillen, 2 December 2019 – 18 April 2020. This showcase of new works, curated by renowned artist Lorna Smyth, encompasses the four seasons in one year. Lorna’s art emphasises the world around us, highlights her love of nature and captures a sense of belonging regardless of the place name.

10.   Philanthropy-Past-and-Present-Tour Philanthropy Past and Present, Tour of Clifton House Belfast, 10 January – 28 February. Clifton House is an impressive Georgian building, set in tranquil landscaped gardens in the heart of Belfast. Opened in 1774 by Belfast Charitable Society, the building was used as a nursing home and hospital for older people, now transformed into a unique event venue and visitor attraction. The January and February tours explore the city’s oldest working building, set up by philanthropic merchants as the Belfast Poor House. Hear stories of its work and those who sought refuge in its walls.

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

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


Portico Ards presents WRETCHES: Revolutions, Rights & Wrongs – from the early days of women’s suffrage to the present. A unique, original musical work commemorating 100 years since women in Belfast gained the right to vote, featuring choir, string quartet, poetry & more. Saturday 1st February.


St. Coleman’s Church Carrickfergus is the venue for Death at Deadwood Murder Mystery this Saturday. Set in the Wild West, you will meet Black Bill Hoyt, Belle Starr, Sheriff Hank Ketchum and Glory of the Morning who are all suspects in a dreadful crime which has been committed. Test your sleuthing skills while having lots of fun!


Join the National Trust at the Argory Moy this Saturday for their popular Snowdrops Walk. See the Wonderful displays of snowdrops planted over the years by estate staff and volunteers.  Enjoy this spectacle at your leisure with a self-guided walk then relax in the coffee shop for a warm drink or tasty bite.  Snowdrops will also be available to buy.


This Saturday morning the Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstewart will screen one of the most acclaimed anime films ever made, Princess Mononoke.  Internationally award-winning, this Japanese epic anime film is written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli.


This Saturday, World Wetlands Day,  join RSPB NI staff on a bus tour with a difference.   Setting off from Enniskillen, get a flavour of the area’s natural heritage and history. As you make your way up around Upper Lough Erne, stopping at viewing points along the way, see wintering birds including whooper swans, teals, mallards and kingfishers.


Jake O’Kane’s new show, ‘Walking The Line’, sees NI’s most popular comic once again cast his caustic eye over the events of the last year.  As always, nothing and no-one are beyond attack as Jake continues his sixth year of sell-out tours. See him live on stage at the Alley Theatre Strabane this Saturday evening.


Back by popular demand! The Frock Around the Clock Bohemian Bazaar is an event for free spirits which brings a modern approach to a holistic lifestyle together with a contemporary marketplace of artisan crafts and vintage.  Belfast Castle, Sunday 2nd February.  Admission costs only £1.50 for adults and children under 15 go free. 

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

Evolve Exhibition opens at the Market Place Theatre, Armagh

‘Evolve’ is a new art exhibition on display in Armagh’s Market Place Theatre, created in a variety of mediums by the service users and staff of the Southern Health and Social Care Trust. The artworks suggest how works of art and people evolve over time.

The Arts Care Artists-in-Residence in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, Jill McKeown, Eddie Rafferty and Gwen Stevenson, facilitate participants to create artwork for themselves and to enhance their environments.

This work is a testimony to the impact art has on staff, service users, family and visitors to the Southern Health and Care Trust. The exhibition will run from Saturday 25 January – Saturday 29 February.

To keep up-to-date with the latest news at the Market Place Theatre, you can follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/marketplacearmagh) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/mptarmagh) where you will find all the latest information, special offers and video previews.

Playful Museums Festival at Museum at The Mill

Let your little ones unleash their creativity this February as part of the Playful Museum Festival 2020. 

This programme of weekly interactive and educational events for children aged from 3 months to 5 years will take place each Saturday during February at Museum at The Mill, Mossley Mill.

These playful sessions have been chosen specially to encourage social development skills in young children as well as creativity, imagination and enjoyment while learning in a relaxed museum environment.

Kicking of these five fantastic weeks of fun is Sensory story telling with Vicky McFarland and Tig the Dragon. These sensory sessions are active with no books, no sitting just lots of play, making them ideal for babies, tots and early years. The festival continues with Lego, Jo Jingles Music, Messy Play and Clay making workshops which are sure to enthral and delight your children.

For more details and bookings please visit antrimandnewtownabbey.gov.uk/museumplaydays or call Box Office T: 028 9034 0202


Under The Hawthorn Tree Returns To The MAC

The acclaimed production Under The Hawthorn Tree is returning to Belfast in a presentation by the award-winning children’s theatre company, Cahoots NI and the MAC, featuring a star-studded cast of exceptional performers including Frankie McCafferty and Julia Dearden.

Based on the internationally acclaimed book by award-winning author Marita Conlon-McKenna and published by The O’Brien Press, Under the Hawthorn Tree follows the journey of three brave siblings as they fight for survival during the Potato Famine in Ireland, 1845.

Running in Belfast from January 30th until February 9th before touring Ireland, there are already limited tickets for some shows.

The story is told alongside compelling music and song and is suitable for children from seven years and up.

It is the tale of three children, Eily, Michael and Peggy. When their father goes to find work and their mother leaves to find him, the trio, starving and faced with the workhouse, embark on a treacherous journey to find the great aunts they have heard of only in stories.

Directed by Paul Bosco Mc Eneaney of Cahoots NI this remarkable story of endurance, in a defining moment of Irish experience, is told like never before in the play by Charles Way, with a stirring live original score from Garth McConaghie.

Paul said that the response to Under the Hawthorn Tree has been phenomenal.

“We knew that this was a special show,” he said. “That we received such a great response the first time it was performed was overwhelming. That so many tickets have been sold ahead of this run is an outstanding tribute to Marita’s story, Charles’ adaptation and all involved in bringing it to the MAC.”

Frankie McCafferty, who plays Mr O’Driscoll, will be familiar to TV and film audiences with appearances including BBC One’s ‘Death and Nightingales’, ‘Ripper Street’ (S2), ‘Vikings’ and ‘Middletown’.

“Under The Hawthorn Tree is such a compelling piece,” he said. “The adaptation brings the story from the pages to the stage in a work that is sure to entertain and educate.”

With Frankie the cast includes Julia Dearden, Adam dDougal, Colette Lennon Dougal, Conor O’Donnell, Philippa O’Hara and Maeve Smith.

Julia has appeared extensively on stage, with TV credits including ‘After Life’, ‘The Fall’ and ‘Line of Duty’.

The three siblings are played by Adam Dougal (Michael), Maeve Smith (Eily), and Philippa O’Hara (Peggy). 

Author Marita Conlon-McKenna said the production of her award-winning book delighted her.

“Cahoots NI and Director Paul Mc Eneaney have done a marvellous job with this truly innovative production which combines music, song and story to help tell the story of The Great Irish Famine,” she said.

“The play surpassed all my hopes and expectations and I was overwhelmed by the reaction of kids, families and lovers of the book, to the show. The hard work and effort of the cast and crew have resulted in a very memorable stage production which I promise is different from anything else most of us have seen.”

This dramatisation of Under The Hawthorn Tree is based on the book Under The Hawthorn Tree © text 1990 Marita Conlon-McKenna, published by The O’Brien Press, Dublin.

Under The Hawthorn Tree runs at The MAC from January 30 – February 9 before touring Ireland.

Tickets are available from themaclive.com or for more information go to cahootsni.com