FANS of Line of Duty might be missing the action from Superintendent Hastings, Detective Inspector Arnott and DI Fleming, but now we’re sucking diesel, as Hastings Hotels and McComb’s Coach Travel have created the very first tour of filming locations from the hit TV series.

Press Eye – Belfast – Northern Ireland – Monday 14th June 2021 Photo by Stephen Hamiltonn / Press Eye JESUS, MARY & JOSEPH & THE WEE DONKEY, A LINE OF DUTY EXPERIENCE IS LAUNCHED… Caroline McComb from McCombs Coach Travel is joined by Cáelán McVeigh from the Grand Central Hotel to launch the new Line of Duty Experience. Fans of the hit TV show might be missing the action from Superintendent Hastings, Detective Inspector Arnott and DI Fleming, but now we’re sucking diesel, as Hastings Hotels and McComb’s Coach Travel have created the very first tour of filming locations.

The Line of Duty Experience, begins with lunch in the Grand Café in the Grand Central Hotel, before an action packed guided tour onboard a luxurious coach, taking in some of the most recognisable filming locations and finishing the afternoon with an AC12 cocktail or Wee Donkey mocktail in the Observatory, Ireland’s tallest cocktail bar. Guests will also receive the Hastings’ Line of Duty duck which has been designed with some of Northern Ireland’s best-known sayings.  

Julie Hastings, like the battle, Marketing Director of Hastings Hotels said: “Given our namesake with everyone’s favourite Superintendent, we had to be the first to launch a Line of Duty Experience. We are delighted to team up with McComb’s Coach Travel to create this unique tour which takes in some of the most exciting filming locations across Belfast City Centre, a light lunch and finishing off with Line of Duty inspired cocktails in the Observatory. And while you may not float up the Lagan in a bubble, you will certainly enjoy the best views of Belfast and beyond.”

The tour starts at Belfast’s Grand Central Hotel in Bedford Street which is located beside the Invest NI building – the setting for AC-12 HQ. There will be various stops across the City Centre including ‘Pelbury House’ the headquarters of the Central Police force which provided the backdrop of Ted Hastings famous peaked-cap adjustments; ‘Kingsgate Printing Services’, the building used as a front for members of the OCG (Organised Crime Gang); the Lorry Park where Kate shot Ryan Pilkington before doing a runner with Jo Davidson in Series 6 and of course the iconic Subway location, the favourite meeting point for Steve and Kate to have their secret rendezvous, and perhaps the most striking spot to get that LOD selfie! 

There’ll be the chance to visit the sites of some of the most memorable car chases including the crash from Series 6 when DC Chloe and DI Arnott had been transporting Jimmy Lakewell from prison to AC-12 HQ to interrogate him when the police convoy was attacked by the OCG as well as the bridge where DI Fleming dramatically fired an assault riffle at a fleeing four-wheel drive, killing her dodgy partner and crime gang mole, Dot Cotton.

Other filming locations on the tour include Brentiss Prison which viewers watched prisoners being escorted to, including Detective Superintendent Jo Davidson after her arrest; Tresco Storage, the company used in Series 3 by Danny Waldron to store the decapitated head of Linus Murphy which was later discovered by Steve; and who could forget the incident in the opening episode of Series 6 that first made viewers suspect that DCI Davidson was a bent copper, when enroute to raid the address of a suspect in the murder of Gail Vella Hickies, she redirected the convoy to Hickey’s Bookmakers for what she ‘suspected’ was an armed robbery.

The Line of Duty Experience takes place 3rd, 17th & 31st July; 14th & 28th August and 11th & 25th September and is £49pp. To book go to or call 028 9086 6162.  

Stena Line adds temporary ferry service between Belfast and Holyhead

Leading ferry company Stena Line has confirmed details that it will be operating a new temporary weekend service between Belfast and Holyhead, starting on Fri 25th June.  The extra capacity on the new route from Belfast will be available until Sunday 18 July.

Stena Estrid, one of Stena Line’s newest ships, will provide the service which will accommodate a mix of freight and leisure traffic, with an estimated crossing time of approximately 8 hours.

Stena Line is currently experiencing very high demand on its Belfast routes to Cairnryan and Liverpool so the addition of the temporary service will provide much needed additional capacity to and from Northern Ireland. 

Furthermore, with present travel restrictions between Britain and Ireland in place, this new route will provide an additional travel option for people who might be considering ferry travel for the first time or who wish to visit Britain, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Lead in fares on the new service start at £130 for a car and driver with sailings departing Holyhead at 23:30hrs (Friday and Saturday nights) and departing Belfast at 09:30hrs (Saturday and Sunday mornings).

Paul Grant, Stena Line Trade Director (Irish Sea), said: “We are delighted to be able to announce details of our new temporary service between Belfast and Holyhead.  The much-anticipated summer rebound for travel is beginning and we are hugely encouraged by current  booking trends.  The current travel restrictions between Britain and Ireland have created a lot of pent-up travel demand so hopefully the addition of this new route will help provide another option for people visiting friends, relatives or taking a break as well as being an attractive option for our freight customers.”

Stena Line is the largest ferry operator on the Irish Sea, with the biggest fleet offering the widest choice of routes including, combined passenger and freight services from Belfast to Cairnryan and Liverpool, Dublin to Holyhead, and Rosslare to Fishguard as well as a freight only route from Belfast to Heysham, a total of up to 238 weekly sailing options between Britain and Ireland. Stena Line also offers a direct service from Rosslare to Cherbourg with 12 crossings per week.

Brett Eldredge, 3rd May 2022 : Ulster Hall Belfast

Country superstar Brett Eldredge has announced UK tour dates, which includes a show at the Ulster Hall, Belfast on Tuesday 3 May 2022.

Tickets are on sale this Friday, 18 June at: and

Award-winning, platinum selling country music star Brett Eldredge is returning to the UK for a run of headline dates including Glasgow, Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester, London and the Ulster Hall, Belfast.

The Good DayTour will feature songs from his critically acclaimed recent album Sunday Drive, as well as fan favorites from his previous albums, which include #1 smash songs like Don’t Ya, Beat of the Music, Wanna Be That Song, Love Someone and more.

Eldredge is playing outdoor festivals and a 21-date US city tour this year before the UK and Europe dates in 2022.

“We’re gonna show the world what it feels like to be alive again, and I’m gonna kiss that stage when I walk on it every night because there’s nothing like it and I’ll never let it go,” said Eldredge “See you on the road!”


New Business Venture Provides Mood Boost after Mental Health Battles

Lifestyle changes bring lockdown business success

When a difficult time in her life left Jessica Thompson struggling with mental health problems, she thought she would never be able to recover, but now she is at the helm of a new company, Benergy with her partner Ben Cochrane.

The nutritious snack company aims to bring foods to boost physical health and mental health, promoting better lifestyle and positivity.

 It all started when Jessica and Ben’s plans to hike across the Himalayas were scuppered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“When we first met, Ben’s health and wellbeing weren’t good and neither were mine,” she explained. “He had a dreadful diet, even though he was working as a chef. 

 “From my own perspective, my weight was fluctuating drastically over the years and it was only when Ben started to look at the internal processes, as well as the external ones, such as his diet and lifestyle, that I realised that I also needed to change the way I was living. 

 “We looked at a lot of different lifestyle changes but realised very quickly that our diet and lifestyle was the first thing that needed to change. As lockdown went on, we increasingly realised that those who were eating a clean diet were so much more active. We took a really close look at how we were living and eating.”

The link between diet and mental health is one that the couple realised was more crucial than many realise.

“Your mental health is not something to be taken lightly,” said Jessica. “Neglecting your mind can have a disastrous impact on every aspect of your life and on those of others in your life as well.

 “It was only after I’d gone through a really bad period in my life that I realised that my mind and body were in a really bad place. I couldn’t understand why one day I’d feel great, and the next I’d feel terrible.”

 After meeting, 23-year-old chef Ben Cochrane, Jessica began to look at both herself and her choices and led her to monitor what was going on in her life.

 “When I met Ben, he was starting out on his own journey where he’d started looking at his lifestyle and his diet in particular.

 “Ben had spent two years in hospitality, working as a chef for some well-known restaurants. He was working four fourteen-hour shifts a week, plus an additional half day. Most weeks he was working between 60 and 70 hours a week. 

 “We started going out on walks and began eating healthily and I began to realise how much I was able to focus on my mind and how I was feeling. 

 “I’d love to say that I just changed my diet and everything was fine,” said Jessica, who was born in Belfast, but grew up in Australia, before moving back to the province, “but that was not the case.

“It was a long, long road out of the darkness. But I am so happy to say that my sad days are becoming few and far between and my mood is the best it has been in years. 

“I do still experience panic attacks from time to time, but that is to be expected. I’m only human, but I’m always trying: the healing process is a long one.”

Jessica, whose background is in digital marketing and technical SEO, first met Ben in 2018 and realises how much their lives have changed since that first, meeting.

Spurred on by the positive changes in their own lifestyles, the couple decided to pass their new-found knowledge on to others by creating a range of breakfast pots and snacks for those ‘on-the-go’ moments.

“We’re not simply a nutrition company,” Jessica continued. “We’re all about educating people about food – particularly food that will benefit people both physically and, most importantly, mentally, because that’s where good health really begins. 

“You don’t have to be an international sports star or be heading out to the gym every day to eat the right things and get the best out of your life. Good nutrition is for everyone and should be a very basic part of everyday life.

“Our products are all plant-based, gluten and dairy free, which is very unique as vegan is the world’s fastest growing food market in the world today. We don’t just want to cater for one dietary requirement, we want to combine them all. 

“Our snacks include protein balls, healthy doppelgangers of the favourite blondies, brownies and truffles, and our new breakfast pots that have proved to be our biggest hit yet in the trials with some of Northern Ireland’s big names in personal training.

“Put simply, we want to break down the stigma around food restrictions and to provide products that can be enjoyed by everyone. Nutrition is not just for those that are involved heavily in the gym; all you have to care about is your mind and you can go from there.

“There is such a gap in the nutrition market. Products, for example, that are marketed a lot of the time aren’t great for you yet use the words ‘skinny’ and ‘high protein’ and people will opt for them even though they’re packed with other nasties and will often leave people suffering in other areas.

“It is so important to let people know that many studies have found a correlation between a diet that’s high in refined sugars and impaired brain function. While it’s important to understand this, it’s just as important to understand the benefits.”

Jessica explained that the link between healthy eating and mental wellbeing is being backed up by the science.

“Research undertaken by MIND in people suffering from depression showed that after they ate a banana they felt better,” she said. “This is because bananas contain tryptophan: a type of protein that the body turns into serotonin, which makes you relax and generally feel happier through an elevated mood.” 

The Benergy range contains a great selection of breakfast pots to start the day off well, and a fabulous mix of treats to keep people going in between meals. 

“Mental health applies to both Ben and me in different ways,” Jessica explained. “I suffered tremendously with my mental health through negative experiences, while Ben’s mental health took a hit through poor nutrition a few years ago when he was blissfully unaware and travelling, not to mention working so many crazy hours. 

“Since we got together almost three years ago, we’ve made small, consistent changes and the results have been genuinely incredible, especially in the last year.

 “I believe that physical health is just as important as mental health, but I believe that they are linked in more ways than a lot of people are aware of.

“The pressure that weight – or a lack thereof – can put on the body’s ability to function is tremendously misunderstood. Every day, I am learning something new that leaves my jaw on the floor. I think that everything starts with the mind – your perceptions, your thoughts, your function – everything happens internally first. I think getting yourself in check internally leads to a better ability to look at your physical health and reassess your goals. 

“Good nutrition is the first step to your physical health.

“The benefits to your mental health are an added bonus.”

To find out more about Benergy Nutrition and their delicious range of healthy snacks head to

St John Ambulance 999 Defibrillator Fund Walk Underway

Janine Spence, Emma Norris, Grace Geary, Hannah Smyth, Samuel Bell, Daniel Maguire, Rachel Caines

Volunteers from St John Ambulance are walking and running 999km throughout June in a monumental feat, to raise funds to replace the organisation’s life-saving defibrillators.

With more than 150km already completed, volunteers from St John Ambulance Head Quarters Transport Division have dedicated yet more of their time and take on the challenge.

Interim Unit Manager Neil Fusco of St John Ambulance explained that their four emergency frontline ambulances and rapid response vehicle are all vital.

“These vehicles are all equipped to the same standard as the statutory ambulance service,” he said. 

“Sadly, their defibrillators are coming to the end of life and the division needs to buy new ones. Each defibrillator costs around £1,500 and five are needed.”

With the walk underway Neil said it is an extreme challenge.

“Trust us, after chatting to some of the volunteers we can concur that their challenge to walk 999km is no easy feat to achieve,” he said. 

“That is more than 620 miles, but all are willing, even if there may be some blisters to treat.”

St John Ambulance Head Quarters Transport Division based in Carryduff is a well-recognised sight at events like the Ulster Rugby and out and about supporting the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

“During the Covid crisis the St John volunteers stepped forward to assist in many ways including responding to calls for Emergency Ambulance Control and transporting Covid positive patients, explained Neil. 

“Since the pandemic began the division has assisted NIAS on over 162 shifts, attending to 427 patients, covering 10,799 miles, over 1,082 hours.”

To help keep each vehicle at the standard required they will need to replace the equipment.

“Any donation, no matter how small, will help the unit to buy these new life-saving defibrillators,” he said. 

“Every donation, no matter how small, is greatly appreciated.”

If you’d like to know more or donate, please visit the division’s fundraising page at

For more information on the vital work that St John Ambulance undertakes visit


Causeway Coast Dog Rescue, a local dog rescue charity has been experiencing a huge change to both fundraising and an increase in enquiries to rehome dogs since lockdown started in 2020. No longer able to fundraise in their usual way, local businesswoman Thelma Smyton decided to run a competition to fundraise for her two favourite charities, one of which was the CCDR in Coleraine the other was Coleraine Cats Protection.

Local businesswoman Thelma Smyton seen here donating a cheque for £800 to the Chair of Causeway Coast Dog Rescue Ltd, Margaret Dimsdale-Bobby after completing a competition to raise funds for two local charities.  Thelma was concerned that over lockdown so many charities were unable to fundraise, so she sourced prizes from local businesses and ran a competition to raise a staggering amount of money.

Seen here donating a cheque for the princely sum of £800.00 to the Chair of the CCDR charity, Maggie Dimsdale-Bobby, Thelma came in, to volunteer during a closed day to customers and discuss what had been achieved by everyone involved. Thelma and her colleague Tina McDaid, a local artist collected a staggering number of prizes which were kindly donated by local individuals and businesses on the north coast.  “we are both passionate about animals and always want to help out where we can. Since Covid-19 hit our community, so many people have forgotten about the animals and the charity’s work to support those animals which is why we both wanted to do our bit”.

Thelma continued, “We had an amazing response, I couldn’t believe how everyone wanted to donate and support the charities which included Paul Thompson solicitors; The Belfry Deli; Ls Gels; Wood turning Wizadry; McCloskey Hardware; TC Grooming; Pets at the Port; Asda, Sainsburys; Moods Hairdressing; Bob & Berts Limavady; Kawasaki; Martin Cole; Gordons Chemist and so many more, twenty-two in total! So, I would like to say Thank you to them all”.

“Both Tina and I were overwhelmed at the response”.  

Tina kindly donated the main prize which was a personalised portrait of whatever the winner requested as a commission.

Accepting the cheque, Chair Mrs Dimsdale-Bobby said, “I would like to thank Thelma and Tina for their support and to everyone who donated, on behalf of the charity I thank you for your kindness.  “The requests for help from our local community, received by the charity is increasing on a weekly basis and as we haven’t been able to fundraise, this donation is gratefully received. 

“The charity continues to provide a valuable service to those in Coleraine and surrounding areas and we are all looking forward to developing our relationships. Our charity shop is open again to the public and encourage shoppers to come along to the Diamond Centre in Coleraine as we are located on the ground floor, as we are raising funds to help as many dogs as possible.”

For more information on the charity and dogs for rehoming, please follow on facebook, twitter or Instagram @causewaycoastdogrescue and thank you for your support.

Kann O&M £250,000 Investment Plan For Solar Farm Panel Cleaning

Department of Agriculture back innovative product

Kann O&M plans a three-year £250,000 investment after they received grant aid of £19,425 from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs that was used to assist with the purchase of the leading solar panel cleaning system on the market today.

The Sunbrush system is used to wash large-scale solar farms to improve their performance, and it is the only one of its type across Ireland and Northern Ireland.

David Woodend of Kann O&M said that there was a need for the system as the number of solar farms across Northern Ireland was growing as the government and private sector strive to meet reduced carbon output goals.

“At present solar farm operators in NI have limited options when it comes to cleaning their sites and have to bring contractors from mainland UK or resort to manual cleaning which is a long, labour intensive process with variable results,” he explained. 

“Dirty panels as a result of ineffective or no cleaning at all results in reduced electricity output from the farm.

“The Sunbrush system can clean up to 20,000 solar panels across a 30-acre site in a day.”

Samuel Knox of Kann O&M, said the team has long experience in solar technology, having been involved in the construction of several solar farms, as well as dealing with connecting to the NIE grid.

“Building and managing a solar farm is a big undertaking,” he added. “Both David and I are used to dealing with the challenges that are required and investing in the Sunbrush system is the next step.

“Ultimately the grant aid from the department will mean that we can continue Kann O&M growth. That includes plans for a £250,000 investment across the next three years, leading to six new jobs.”

Minister for Agriculture, Edwin Poots said: “Kann O&M Ltd received financial support totalling £19,425 under the NI Rural Development Programme. This investment services an industry which is making a positive contribution to our environment and the mechanised service will improve productivity and efficiency for both Kann O&M Ltd and the solar farms. I wish them every success for the future.”

Kann O&M provides services in the renewable energy sector, with David and Samuel’s experience in solar starting with work on the first large-scale solar farm in Northern Ireland in 2016. The company also provides land management services to the solar sector which aim to improve biodiversity and provide additional environmental benefits to the local area.  

“While we are both electricians we are also both farmers and live in rural backgrounds,” said David. “That means that we understand that while solar farms are a key part of the zero carbon future, we want them to have as little impact as possible, and even enhance the wildflower and native species growth.

The world’s most beloved tenor Andrea Bocelli has announced a return to The SSE Arena, Belfast

Tickets on sale this Friday at 10am via

(London, Monday 7 June 2021) The world’s most beloved tenor, Andrea Bocelli, has announced a welcome return to the UK and Ireland in September and October 2022.  Bocelli will be visiting Liverpool, Glasgow, Belfast, Birmingham and Sheffield and will also be performing rescheduled show dates in Dublin and at The O2 London.

Musically gifted from birth, Andrea Bocelli is one of the most celebrated singers in modern history,performing at major international events including the Olympic Games and the World Cup, as well as his own sell-out arena shows around the world. He has a Golden Globe, seven Classical BRITs and seven World Music Awards under his belt, plus a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His 2018 album release, Si, reached No.1 in both the US and UK charts.

Despite the global pandemic in 2020, Bocelli was able to create new music – his album Believe contains an uplifting personal collection of songs celebrating the power of music to soothe the soul – as well as reaching new audiences around the world through online streams. The Italian multi-instrumentalist performed live in his home nation from the iconic venues of Teatro Regio di Parma and Duomo Cathedral in Milan, the latter with over 3 million concurrent online viewers, making it the largest simultaneous audience for a classical livestream in YouTube history.

With a decorated career spanning more than a quarter of a century, having amassed millions of fans around the world with his emotive and instantly recognisable voice, Bocelli has collaborated with a host of A-list stars including Luciano Pavarotti, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera, Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Céline Dion, Alison Krauss, Tony Bennett and many more.

Ultimately, Bocelli understands that all music is good for the soul in a way that taps into the most subtle nuances of humanity, irrespective of individual belief: “Good music brings with it a powerful message of peace and fellowship, teaching us about beauty, and helping us to open our hearts and minds.”

Andrea Bocelli Foundation is proud to partner with PLUS1 ensuring that for every ticket sold, £1 will support “ABF Educational Projects” in Haiti, empowering children from the most vulnerable areas of the Country, offering them the opportunity to express their true

Marie Heaney Launches Seamus Heaney HomePlace ‘Open Ground’

A New Visitor Experience Bringing The Nobel Laureate’s Literature Into The Landscape

Marie Heaney, together with the Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Cathal Mallaghan, has officially launched a new outdoor visitor experience which for the first time brings Seamus Heaney’s literature into the landscape of South Derry which so inspired him.

Seamus Heaney HomePlace ‘Open Ground’ is a series of 5 locations, all of which held a significance for the poet, from the Strand at Lough Beg to the banks of the Moyola River.

Seamus Heaney’s poetry is not only visible in each place where interpretation panels explain the literary connections, but also audible with the poet’s own voice heard via listening posts on site, as well as via a dedicated Open Ground App, with elements of augmented reality adding a new dimension to the experience.

Open Ground has been developed by Mid Ulster District Council which manages Seamus Heaney HomePlace, with funding from DAERA, and represents an overall investment of £750K.

The Strand at Lough Beg, a place of ‘special memories’ for Seamus Heaney, has been made accessible to visitors for the first time.

A newly constructed boardwalk leads to a woodland pathway which gently opens out into a clearing with uninterrupted views across Lough Beg to ‘Church Island and its soft outline of yew’.

A riverside walk along the Moyola River, where Seamus Heaney walked, fished and thought, is now also more accessible to visitors who can meander alongside those same river banks, retracing the steps of the poet who was ‘at home on the water in all sorts of ways’.

Sculpture is at the heart of the remaining three locations, with a tall, steel structure at the Eelworks in Toome, symbolising the twists and turns of eels as they swim, and reflecting the poet’s fascination with both the lifecycle of eels and the fishermen who trapped them.

An alleyway in Magherafelt is now home to the sculpted silhouettes of people walking towards the town’s bus station which featured in Heaney’s poetry, with the ‘agitated rooks’ from ‘Route 110’, the poem which takes its title from the number of a local bus, flying just above their heads.

The existing Turfman sculpture in Bellaghy has benefited from an extended and freshly landscaped seating area, creating a new space for visitors to contemplate both the art piece and lines from ‘Digging’, one of Seamus Heaney’s most well-known poems.

Speaking at the launch, Chair of the Council, Councillor Cathal Mallaghan, said:

“This is a truly unique development which brings Seamus Heaney’s poetry alive in the places which were so much a part of his formative years and had such an influence on the body of work which brought him literature’s highest accolade – the Nobel Prize.

“If you read Seamus Heaney’s speech from the day on which he became a Nobel Laureate, you will be left in no doubt about his roots being in South Derry and their significance on his journey from his home in the ‘traditional thatched farmstead’ to the stage on Stockholm.

“I consider it an honour to be launching Open Ground and to celebrate further the man, his work and his deep connections to this area”.

Chris Heaney, speaking on behalf of the Heaney family, said:

“The names of the locations that make up this particular open ground – Bellaghy, Magherafelt, Toome, Moyola, Lough Beg – are familiar to people from this locale but they have also become familiar to readers of my father’s poetry throughout the world. The development of five sites linked to different poems was a great idea from the start and there is something special and genuinely powerful hearing the poems read in their own “home places”.

Director of Rural Affairs at DAERA, Paul Donnelly said:

“Tourism has the potential to create jobs and opportunities for our rural communities and economy and I am delighted that we have invested £471k from our Rural Tourism Scheme into the Heaney Open Ground Experience. This project will highlight the literacy significance of the sites in the life story of Seamus Heaney and in doing so will hopefully attract more people to visit the area and stay longer.” 

This project was part funded under Priority 6 (LEADER) of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and the European Union, with contributions also via DAERA’s Environmental Challenge Fund, Department for Infrastructure and the Lough Neagh Partnership.

For further information visit

Live music returns to Ireland courtesy of Stendhal Festival

The first live outdoor concert in Northern Ireland in 15 months took place this past Saturday, June 5th, at Ballymully Cottage Farm, Limavady, home of Stendhal Festival.

250 invited guests enjoyed sets from ROE, No Oil Paintings, Ports and Jealous Of The Birds, as they observed social distancing guidelines set by the gig organisers.

The social distancing rules saw people watch the gigs from tables and individual audience pens in bubbles of four to six people.

A one-way system, hand sanitizing stations, toilet cleaning, signage and social distancing marshals also added to the safety protocols and ensured that the event could take pace as safely and as socially distantly as possible, without taking away from the atmosphere of the event.

Stendhal Festival Director Ross Parkhill said that it was a huge thrill to be able to host live music at the farm again and that the event went off exactly to plan with no major issues what so ever.

“It was absolutely brilliant,” said Ross. “We’ve missed this so much so to be able to put on a gig again means the world to absolutely everyone involved with Stendhal.”

He added: “We are used to doing much bigger gigs but this one really felt special. It felt like a real release and you could feel that throughout the audience, the performers and the staff here. It felt like hope realised.”

Ross added: “In terms of the numbers, we could have had more people but along with getting a gig on stage this was also about getting a trial run of our social distancing procedures before we welcome larger crowds in July and August. Safety of our visitors is always our number one priority at any edition of Stendhal but it will be our number one, two and three priorities this year.

“We are really pleased with how everything went in that sense, everyone who we spoke to at the end said they felt safe, felt that the covid measures were easy to follow and more importantly, said that it gave them a bit of confidence venturing back into crowds as we hopefully are seeing the back end of this terrible pandemic.”

The Northern Ireland Executive announced on May 20th that outdoor events for up to 500 people, including concerts could take place from May 24th and Ross said that once that announcement was made, Stendhal simply had to act.

“When we read that outdoor concerts for 500 people were back on the agenda we sort of had to do a double take to see if we had read it correctly. Then we emailed the Executive office and the Department for Communities to clarify and validate that the press release was correct and when that came back in the affirmative we knew we had to act right away.”

Naomi Hamilton of Jealous of the Birds was one of the performers on the night and following her first live performance to an audience since March 2020 she said it was a night of high emotion.

“What a joy,” she said of getting back to performing live. “ The show was an absolute joy and a testament to the fact that outdoor music and festivals can run safely and smoothly in this time of covid recovery.

“People need the arts and music now more than ever and being able to share that together between artists and audience was pretty stellar.”

Roisin Donald (aka ROE) was also playing her first ever gig with a full band, a direction her live performance was just about to take before the pandemic put the brakes on everything.

“It was the best feeling in the world to be back on a stage in front of an actual crowd again,” she said. “Everyone was in amazing spirits and it felt so right to be there. This is something that N.I. really needed and I think the crew did an incredible job of making everyone feel safe and welcome.”

With this successful trial run under their belts, the team at Stendhal are now preparing for their 10th anniversary events this July and August and Ross said that he hopes that the overall total of 500 people currently allowed to gather for concerts will have increased by then.

“We are hoping that we can have 2500 people here in July and 5000 here in August. The pilot events in England and around Europe have shown that events of that size can take place safely without social distancing, so what we are planning will be even safer. We need guidance on the overall ‘outdoors summer’ and our place within that as soon as possible. We are good to go, we will do whatever it takes to safely deliver some much needed festivity for artists and audiences this summer.”

Very limited numbers of tickets remain for Stendhal’s July and August Anniversary events. For more information visit