Experience Fairy Trail Magic at Galgorm Castle Estate This Summer

With more than 15,000 visitors a year the Galgorm Castle Fairy Trail is going from strength to strength.

Since opening in 2017, the Fairy Trail has been enchanting visitors of all ages, and families can now book to take their children around the magical experience from its base, the magical Toadstool Cottage.

Special events are held throughout the year at Easter, Halloween, Christmas and over the summer holidays.

“We have families and school groups at our seasonal events that are based on an interactive outdoor experience,” said Stacey Mellon of the Galgorm Castle Fairy Trail. “When the children arrive, they are given a special trail map with a range of interactive clues and puzzles to solve through the spectacular woodland trail in the heart of the Galgorm Castle Estate.

“They can complete it at their own pace whilst observing social distancing and discover some of the unique places through the forest.”

From a Wizard School to a Troll Swamp, every addition has been painstakingly designed by local craftsmen to enchant children.

“All the features have been specially created and many hand-carved,” said Stacey. “There are fairy houses, little fairy doors, gates and tunnels, and even a fairy library and the ever-popular Wizard School

“All the stops along the trail have a different theme and name to keep it interesting and stimulating for our visitors, and there are some lovely surprises as they explore.”

Taking up to two hours to complete, the trail is an integral part of the historic Galgorm Castle Estate near Ballymena, which boasts a café as well as the Galgorm Resort’s Castle Kitchen + Bar restaurant.

In October, the forest is turned into a magical Halloween wonderland.

“At the Halloween events we introduce a wide range of live characters to the trail, to really bring the experience to life.  Stacey explained. “Large as life fairies, zombies, mummies and other characters, created to entertain rather than frighten the younger children.

“At the Christmas event, a troop of elves lead our fairy-seeking visitors into the forest, where they encounter festive characters along the trail and at the end Santa is waiting to meet them.”

All the special event guided tours can be booked in advance with set booking times, for up to 40 people.

School and other groups can also book, with additional activities available, including crafts.

The Galgorm Castle Fairy Trail is open to visitors all year, seven days a week from 10am to 7pm (peak season) and 10am to 4pm (off peak) and maps available to collect on arrival.  The trail can cater for up to 60 people every 30 minutes.

Seasonal trails and special events vary in times and run over specific dates on a ticket only basis due to demand.

Booking for the Galgorm Castle Fairy Trail, and for special events is via galgormcastlefairytrail.co.uk.

Embrace A Unique Art Experience On Picturesque Farm On The Causeway Coastal Route

Perched just a couple of hundred yards from The Gobbins Cliffs, Audrey Kyle offers a unique art workshop, helping people learn the skills of painting as well as connecting with nature.

Folklore and the landscape of the Islandmagee peninsula, shaped by the sea, offers a stunning backdrop to learn art away from the daily hustle and bustle of modern life.

Audrey Kyle Art operates on a simple premise – learning a new skill in a tranquil setting.

It is a concept Audrey developed after re-discovering her affinity for painting.

“I had been working in the corporate world in HR, but eight years ago I took a change in direction and haven’t looked back,” she explained. “I began painting, started to get commissions and my new career started from there”

Audrey opened the Gobbins Studios to showcase her own work, but has since opened the studios for classes.

This Saturday August 1 from 12pm – 4pm, Audrey will be hosting an open studio where she will be displaying some brand new pieces that incorporate organic materials.

“What is offered is quite different to what other art classes offer,” she said. “As well as learning the skills of watercolours it is very much aimed at creating a relaxing, mindful experience.”

It also helps that the studio is part of a working farm with a livery stable and a flock of 50 Suffolk ewes.

“Where we are situated means we have a stunning landscape and an active farm,” Audrey said.

“There are so many aspects that can be drawn upon. And, as it changes through the seasons it offers many different inspirations.

“For example, in the summertime we do watercolour workshops and experience days where the people that visit can go for a walk through the meadow and through the woodland, we collect wild grasses and wildflowers and then they come back to the studio and paint them.”

Most classes last for three hours and can accommodate up to six people. However, there are also special summer sessions.

“In summer I host experience days, which last for five hours including lunch, and woodland and cliff top walk along with the watercolour practice.

“This enables the folklore to be incorporated to build experiences of the folklore of Ireland and really embrace the spirit of this remarkable area.”

Art Fans are welcome to join Audrey Saturday August 1 at The Gobbins Studio from 12 pm- 4 pm to view some of the artist’s latest work.You can find out more and book classes at audreykyleart.com or contact Audrey directly on 07712464966

Businesses Need To Seize Opportunities Created By Brexit

Dr Adam Hunniford, founder of PiP Chemicals inside PiP Chemicals in Newtownards, Co Down Photo by: Francine Montgomery / Excalibur Press For more information contact Tina Calder, Excalibur Press, 07305354209, tina@excaliburpress.co.uk Keywords: chemicals, biocides, hand sanitiser, automotive, adam hunniford, pip chemicals

Ards businessman, Dr Adam Hunniford is urging Northern Ireland businesses to seize the opportunities created by the contentious Brexit NI Protocol.

Dr Hunniford, of PiP Chemicals said that whilst the issue remains politically divisive businesses can use the unique position of Northern Ireland to boost existing trade with the EU and develop new contracts.

“The Irish Sea Border means that for EU companies buying from Great Britain, they cease to be simple distributors who can rely on their suppliers meeting the regulatory requirements” he said.

“Rather, they become importers who must ensure these are all met – themselves – and shoulder the responsibility should there be failings.

“The same is not the case for EU buying from Northern Ireland, as Northern Ireland is in both the EU and GB regulatory systems. So a PiP Chemicals competitor in GB trying to sell to an EU company causes the EU company a set of issues they never had before that do not exist when buying from PiP.

“In real terms what that means is that if you get your supplies through GB the EU can ask about regulations, compliance and any relevant duties.”

Dr Hunniford said that this has created the circumstances that can be capitalised on.

“The opportunities lie in the EU market for Northern Ireland companies,” he explained. 

“At the moment Northern Ireland is still operating in the EU system, comply with the rules and customers in Ireland remain a distributor and which means any compliance issues remain with the Northern Ireland company.”

He explained that already the Irish Health and Services Agency is clamping down on GB companies trading to the Republic of Ireland leading to many no longer supplying south of the border.

The Co Down businessman said that now was the time to promote Northern Ireland’s position.

“We should be shouting loud that we are still part of the EU, you can buy from us, there are no delays or regulatory hurdles,” he explained. 

“It may be politically sensitive, but the reality is that we are now in direct competition with Britain.

“We are separate but we can offer something that GB cannot and so we should be saying ‘buy from Britain, have difficulties, buy from us, they will be fewer’.”

Dr Hunniford acknowledged that this will not be a popular strategy for many.

He said: “The broader government, of course, won’t like that companies like ours are attempting to take this strategy and it may not go down well with the public at all if Northern Ireland companies started stealing business from other regions of Britain, but that’s what has been created, whether we like it or not.”

He also explained the Brexit situation has been taking place within the context of the global pandemic, meaning most have been trying to cope with unprecedented pressures.

“Shipping containers are in the wrong place, and it will take some time to resolve this,” he said. 

“Add into that is there are fewer haulage drivers across the UK.  A lot of the lorry drivers were often Eastern European, and they have gone home, and that means there are fewer lorries coming and going.

“Hauliers will not be able to supply services at the same level, as the paperwork and lack of full containers going back and forth to GB is hitting their bottom line and that leads to increasing prices.”

However, whilst there are opportunities to be had, Dr Hunniford also warned there are inflationary pressures building.

“It is imperative that companies look to the current unique position of Northern Ireland to look to EU solutions, including transport and seeking new markets,” he said. 

“PiP Chemicals have tried to mitigate the issues by having more stock and supplies, but that has extra storage costs. Had we not had to do that we may have been able to hire extra staff.

“Every company is facing cash flow problems, and that too will lead to price increases.”

PiP Chemicals, based in Newtownards, specialises in designing, formulating and manufacturing products for the automotive business and wider industrial uses. It sells directly to the automotive trade

New Comedy Arts Festival for Portaferry

What do you call a cluster of great nights out in Portaferry? Portico Comedy Arts Festival! 

Just a few weeks after winning an Arts and Business Award for being a “stand-out arts organisation”, the Portico of Ards has more good news: a brand new festival for Portaferry with every event designed to make people laugh. 

With funding from Ards and North Down Borough Council and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Portico Comedy Arts Festival takes place across two weekends, 17-25 September 2021, with all events happening in the stunning grade A-listed architecture of the Portico of Ards in Portaferry.

The festival launches with The Pirates of Penzance on Friday 17 Sept. Dive straight into the Comedy Arts Festival by the sea with this fabulous production of this Gilbert and Sullivan favourite. Opera Anywhere has been thrilling audiences everywhere with this energetic and hilarious show. 

Sat 18 Sept brings NI comedy sensation Paddy Raff accompanied by BT9’s most famous export, his alter-ego Nigel. This show is a mix of brand new material from the sold out SSE Arena show ‘Me, Myself & Nigel’ along with some songs & stories from last year’s nine-time-sellout ‘Paddy & Nigel Act Their Postcodes’ show. 

A family show from The Scott Brothers Duo on Sun 19 Sept provides the perfect introduction to classical music for all ages. The brothers perform a fun-filled concert of duos for piano and organ featuring thrilling music with captivating animations on the big screen. With gorgeous original animation and scores, this is a charming afternoon treat.

On Thurs 23 Sept, ‘Our Jimmy’ is back by popular demand. David Hull Promotions presents comedian William Caulfield’s latest show featuring the beloved Ulster characters first created by the late James Young. What have Derek, Lily O’Condriac, Emily Beattie, Willie Simpson, Billy Hulk, the wee Schoolboy, the shipyard worker and Orange Lil all been up to? Come and find out!

Neil Delamere, star of BBC’s The Blame Game, Fighting Talk and the Newsquiz, hits the road again with his riotous new stand-up show, Liminal, on Fri 24 Sept. Expect an evening perhaps best described as Schrodinger’s chat as our wisecracking comedic hero struggles to figure out this strange new world. 

The festival concludes on Sat 25 Sept withThe Iconettes and their band The Hitzvilles. Featuring hit songs from The Ronettes, The Supremes, Martha and The Vandellas, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross and much more, this exciting musical homage pays tribute to the best ‘girl groups’ and ‘divas’ of the 60s and 70s. A fabulous night out guaranteed!

Wendy Smith, Tourism Manager for Ards and North Down Borough Council said, “Ards and North Down Borough Council are delighted to support such a vibrant and imaginative programme set in such wonderful surroundings. I would encourage everyone to get their tickets early!”

Portico’s manager Dr Verity Peet said, “If you don’t need a laugh after the last year then well done you. Everyone else, we’ve got you covered!”

To find out more about the festival or Portico please visit PorticoArds.com

Slemish Market Supper Club Hosts Exclusive Summer Fine Dining Experience

Slemish Market Supper Club Photo by Kaja Choma / Excalibur Press on behalf of the Storify My Business programme for Mid & East Antrim Council. More info contact Tina Calder, Excalibur Press, 07305354209, tina@excaliburpress.co.uk

The popular Slemish Market Supper Club is set to offer food fans a new experience next month as their exclusive dining experience returns for another six-course event featuring well known chef Rob Curley.

Based in the beautiful surroundings of the greater Ballymena area, the unique pop up dining experience, Slemish Market Supper Club, creates an array of bespoke meals using only the finest local produce. 

Hosted by the award-winning chef, Rob Curley, Slemish Market Supper Club runs across a number of venues across the greater Ballymena area in County Antrim. 

At each fine dining experience, Rob will be on hand to allow you to learn more about each dish by explaining the ingredients, where they are sourced and the inspiration behind the creation of the distinctive cuisines.

“I love surprising people by taking a humble ingredient and turning it into something extraordinary,” said Rob.

The delectable dishes consist of six courses that will include a drink, a wee bite, a starter, a fish course, a meat course and a dessert. 

“We want our diners to have more than a meal,” explained Rob, adding: “We want them to understand what is on their doorstep, what they too can prepare and have a great time as well as great food.” 

Each event differs from the rest, as the ingredients used are done so when the produce is at its finest, making each experience special. Not just that, the menu is a surprise which Rob reveals on the night.

Offering the best summer creations, the next pop up event is due to take place on Saturday August 7 at Incredible Edibles Community Gardens in Cloughmills, Co. Antrim. The unique event not only offers the finest of cuisines but creates an intimate setting allowing you to meet new people and learn top tips from an award-winning chef. 

“It Is a delight for me to showcase what we have on our doorstep,” said Rob. “And when our diners experience the freshness it can be a revelation.”

Northern Ireland is renowned for its quality food and hospitality, and with Slemish Market Supper Club, they combine these two elements to create innovative and unforgettable experiences.

Tickets for the Slemish Market Supper Club at Incredible Edibles Community Gardens are £60 and can be booked at slemishmarketsupperclub.com 

To find out more or book a place, ​​phone Rob Curley on 07547804975, go to their Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter 

Digitally Enabled Change, Data and Storytelling: the Way Forward for Tourism in Northern Ireland

Tourism NI’s head of digital explains plans for recovery

Digital development, increasing use of data and a vision of transformation for how the tourism industry gears up for the post-pandemic recovery are some of the priorities for Tourism NI as it prepares to revive Northern Ireland’s world-leading tourism status.

The recent Tourism Recovery Action Plan, launched by Tourism NI and DfE, has identified the need to support with adopting digital technologies to improve business processes and productivity, bolster online presence and revolutionise access to digital marketing platforms.  

Tourism NI’s Chief Digital Officer Dave Vincent explained that the work the organisation had been doing prior to Covid-19, as well as since the outbreak of the pandemic, will enable the Tourism Recovery Plan to be effective.

However, Mr Vincent was clear that digital tools, data sets and transformational plans needed to be considered as part of all tourism business planning, large and small, over the next 18 months.

“We have been doing a lot of work to improve how we support the sector,” he said. 

“But what we provide has to be seen as a business outcome as opposed to a digital outcome. 

“In the coming months and years we want people to think of it as their digital strategy, not just about their digital transformation.”

This doesn’t diminish the need for creating and distributing good, compelling content on websites and social media. What Tourism NI is doing is supporting businesses through the development of the organisation’s web portal.

When the pandemic struck, a Covid-19 Business Support Hub was established on TourismNI.com to provide support to the tourism community. The ability to create the hub is part of the vision to provide more support through the site.

“Part of our development is through the use of a destination management platform. It has a host of features such as listings, offers and partnerships” explained Mr Vincent, adding: “It’s in 900 destinations around the world, and we are using it for the Discover NI site and we have provided access to all 11 council regions.

“Visit Causeway, Visit Mourne, Visit Derry, Visit Lisburn and Castlereagh are already live and more will come, meaning visitors can see the same quality and content. They will be able to look at what is in each area and book, plan and make their time here better.

“It will mean we have the first real, collaborative platform which is certainly the direction of travel we at Tourism NI want to take.”

One challenge facing everyone in the industry is the ability to gather quality data on visitors.
Tourism NI is working to further develop its own data hub and dashboard of information which will enable the sharing of data.

“We are developing a dashboard that will be on the Tourism NI site and we aim to have as much data as possible for the industry” Mr Vincent said.

“This includes questionnaires completed at airports, sensors recording activity at places like the Mournes and Derry Walls, and a range of other data that can be shared.

“We’ve got the sensors, they tell a story about where people are. We have also acquired credit card data, so we can tell what our key markets are spending, where in the destination they are spending and what they are spending on.

“I’ve got telecoms data, and we’re also collecting review data in real-time so I can look back on the visitor experience.”

The Chief Digital Officer explained with the aggregated datasets the service to individual businesses becomes such that they are able to look at content, see the direction they may want to go in and use it as a service platform.

“The aim is for businesses to register and get access to a range of tools. They will also get access to application forms, they can see the status of claims, grants, mentoring,” he said. 

“It also means when the business has content we can share with a distribution platform, at the push of a button, have the content out on Visit GB, Trip Advisor, Booking.com, and many more. That will be even more powerful when people share their information.”

Part of what is enabling Tourism NI to action these plans is that they were in development for a period of time.

“When the lockdown happened we were ready as an organisation,” said Mr Vincent. 

“Our Cloud-based services were ready to support the industry and we had the platforms ready.

“From a digital perspective, there is no difference to those we work with if we are in the office one day and working from home the next.”

He added that Tourism NI’s lead role on working groups demonstrated the value of the organisation.

“All of a sudden we had the industry talking to Tourism NI and representing the industry in surveys, getting us feedback and responding and showing the value we have,” the Chief Digital Officer said. 

“Some in the industry might have thought we just sit in our offices and not understand what we do, but the journey through Covid-19 showed many what we can do with engagement and partnership.

“It showed it wasn’t just about grants, but we add value to the sector as a whole.

“Before there were aspects of what we do that were the only encounter businesses had, such as inspections and certifications.

“It has been quite transformational in terms of how we are perceived and understanding what we can do.”

Part of that has been the number of programmes Tourism NI has been able to deliver.

“From a business plan perspective there are many schemes we implemented last year,” he said. 

“We were able to tackle website development turnaround, as part of my role in influencing the direction of grants.

“Quite a lot of companies received investment in a website audit, with content and videography, so we are capitalising on that for both sides.

“This means businesses can engage in digital storytelling and their videos, website, and social media work together to explain what they do. Marry that with the Destination Management Platform and the business can work better, and we at Tourism NI have more tools to attract visitors. Our work with Tourism Ireland, also, is about making the online space one which funnels people to choose a visit to the island of Ireland.””

Mr Vincent said he understood the difficulties many businesses are having, and whilst there are many resilient in the uncertainty, others are struggling, and need to tackle some of the basics of working in the sector.

However, he is keen to support those, as the next period can help change attitudes.

“What the lockdown has done is accelerate some of the thinking around the digital-first customer experience and journey” he explained, adding: “This all works towards creating a very attractive proposition for potential visitors”. 

For more information on how Tourism NI can support businesses visit: tourismni.com/contact-us/covid-19-business-support-helpline

Twitter: @NITouristBoard

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/northern-ireland-tourist-board 

The Designerie In Bushmills Joins Forces With Ulster University

Graduates to exhibit as part of exiting creative team in Makers House 

Ulster University graduates from Belfast School of Art are set to showcase their work in Makers House at The Designerie in Bushmills. 

This partnership feels like a natural evolution for The Designerie.  A social enterprise, which is operated by Enterprise Causeway, it’s committed to supporting small businesses in the arts and creative sector.  

All involved are delighted to welcome the creative talent that Belfast School of Art have nurtured and help them grow in their business journey and the team at The Designerie and Makers House will now support them as they showcase their work on the beautiful North Coast. 

The first graduates to show their work will be Bethan McDonnell and Gillian Brownlow, their textile and fashion designs will be a welcome addition to the already diverse offer in Makers House and they join the established team of Linen Lane, Laura McIlveen Photography, Susan Francesca Hunter, Fee McToal Design and of course Taylor Yates. 

Jayne Taggart, Chief Executive of Enterprise Causeway said the partnership with Ulster University was another step in the journey of The Designerie’s creative space.

“The collaboration with Ulster University is hugely exciting and brings yet another cohort of creatives –this time with a focus on up and coming talent,” she explained. “This fits so perfectly with our purpose”.

The collaboration reflects Ulster University’s commitment to student and graduate employability and the growth of support initiatives for further developing enterprise and self-employment as viable career options.

Jackie Smyth, Ulster University Careers Consultant said, “The development of the residency programme for graduates is reflective of the changing economic landscape that many of our graduates will enter and this is a great example of the support programmes now in place for those seeking self-employment opportunities”.

Louise O’Boyle, Head of School – Belfast School of Art, has championed this collaboration due to the significant impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the creative sector, she said “our graduates will really benefit from this additional support and will thrive in this creative environment.

“The Designerie is a beautiful space and has such really lovely, interesting products in it,” she said. “For the graduates to be able to speak to the buying public in a very different type of workplace will be invaluable for them.” 

Louise is looking forward to the mentorship Enterprise Causeway will provide the team in terms of business acumen / support and with the retail environment Makers House provides and the skills of the creatives and team on site “You couldn’t have asked for a better launch pad” for our graduates. 

Leeanne Irwin, Business Manager at The Designerie said the collaboration is something all involved are really excited about. 

“The graduates will gain valuable experience from the established team in Makers House from product development to making your pieces commercially viable,” she explained. “This will include merchandising and engaging with customers. It will help them showcase their products to a wide range of customers and ensure they are able to grow their business.  All in the supportive environment of The Designerie where the team are always on hand for advice.”

This will be great news for The Designerie’s customers, the new addition of creatives to Makers House will give more options in terms of products and of course they’ll be able to meet the people behind the products and talk to them about their creative journey. 

The Chief Executive of Enterprise Causeway, Ms Taggart said this was the next step in the evolution of The Designerie, with the £4m investment in regenerating The Old Court House to a new state of the art creative space, on the horizon it’s very exciting times for all concerned. 

The Designerie has established itself as a destination for the customer looking for something special and unique and the Ulster University graduates will get to be part of this incredible journey. 

To find out more about Enterprise Causeway and The Designerie visit: enterprisecauseway.co.uk, thedesignerie.co.uk/

5 Cathedral Quarter Hotels Perfect For a City Centre Staycation in Belfast

If you’re thinking of a staycation this year Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter has everything you need to have the perfect experience, from Instagrammable murals to delicious local dishes.

With a thriving nightlife, a whole host of arts and culture events and venues and some of the city’s best restaurants you won’t be stuck for something to do.

Here are 5 Hotels in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter that are perfect for your city centre staycation:

1. Ramada by Wyndham

For those looking to be situated in the heart of Cathedral Quarter, a stay at the Ramada by Wyndham is the perfect choice.

Located just a stone’s throw away from the Belfast Cathedral, known locally as St Anne’s Cathedral, and within walking distance of renowned local bars and restaurants in Commercial Court and the famous Hill Street, the Ramada by Wyndham is ideal for those looking to be at the heart of the action.

To book your stay, go to wyndhamhotels.com or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

2. Malmaison

Inspired by the Titanic, this boutique hotel situated near Custom House Square combines a sleek and contemporary style with luxury.

For the weary shopper, or for those looking to enjoy a night out on the town, Malmaison promises a taste of luxury at an affordable price. Their own Chez Mal brasserie even serves up fresh, locally sourced dishes alongside a refreshing cocktail.

To book, go to malmaison.com, or follow them on Facebook.

3. Premier Inn Cathedral Quarter

For those seeking comfort on a budget, the Premier Inn located on Alfred Street puts you right in the heart of Cathedral Quarter.

The local bars and restaurants that make Cathedral Quarter come to life are just on your doorstep. Located just a five-minute walk from Victoria Square and the other highstreet shops that make up Belfast City Centre, the Premier Inn is the ideal spot for staycationers.

To book your stay, go to premierinn.com or follow them on Facebook.

4. The Merchant Hotel

The Merchant Hotel promises five-star luxury in the heart of Cathedral Quarter. The impressive Grade A listed building contains a luxurious spa, a rooftop gym with panoramic views of the city centre, and a jazz bar for people to sit back and relax after a long day exploring all that Belfast has to offer.

The Art Deco inspired rooms with bespoke furnishings offer guests a lavish stay at one of Belfast’s most famous hotels.

To book your stay, go to themerchanthotel.com, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

5. AC Hotel by Marriott

Sitting on the banks of the River Lagan, AC Hotels by Marriott offers guests a sophisticated haven within walking distance of the very best Belfast has to offer.

The AC Hotel by Marriott has thoughtfully considered each amenity to ensure guests are treated to an effortless relaxation experience. From glass enclosed double showers, to 49-inch smart TVs, to the delectable dishes served up at Novelli, led by multi-Michelin-starred chef, Jean Christophe Novelli, The AC Hotel by Marriott has something for everyone.

To book your stay, go to marriott.co.uk, or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.

To find out more about what’s happening in Belfast Cathedral Quarter head to the Destination CQ website at cathedralquarterbelfast.com

By Jessica Lawrence, Excalibur Press


From Monday 26 July until Saturday 4 September, The Market Place Theatre in Armagh will play host to a photographic exhibition by Michael Bradley, Colin Robins and Joonas Aitonurmi, entitled ‘Road Bowling in Armagh & Cork’. Part of The John Hewitt International Summer School, which is renowned for featuring local art and artists, the exhibition in the Theatre’s Main Gallery will be free to attend.

Road bowling, or ‘throwing the bullet’ is primarily associated with the Counties of Armagh and Cork. It is somewhat idiosyncratic as a pursuit, disputed as to its origins and in some ways seemingly a legacy of a previous era, involving nothing more than participants taking turns at throwing an iron and steel ball as far down a country road as possible. Yet healthy numbers continue to spectate and to stroll alongside the players whilst many frequently wager not insignificant amounts on the prospective winners.

The photographs in this exhibition show people and environments from these two regions, featuring both players and spectators of the sport. Photographs are by Michael Bradley, Cork, and Colin Robin, assisted by Joonas Aitonurmi in Armagh. Joonas Aitonurmi is a Helsinki journalist and writer, and Colin Robins is a Cornwall based photographer and lecturer at the University of Plymouth. Two recent collaborations resulted in exhibitions held in Helsinki at the Alexsanteri Institute, Finnish Centre for Russian and Eastern European Studies, and at Tiedekulma’s Crazy World conference.

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.


Armagh Observatory and Planetarium is delighted to announce it is reopening post lockdown and excited to showcase the visitor experience upgrades and latest facility additions to families this summer.

These state-of-the-art developments include a brand-new theatre experience, an inclusive and immersive sensory room and an interactive exhibition area.

Funded by the Department for Communities, the Planetarium now boasts the world’s most advanced Planetarium system, Digistar 7, created by digital projection specialists Evans and Sutherland. It’s ultra-high-resolution videos transports guests anywhere in the Solar System and beyond! The latest technology allows visitors of all ages to immerse themselves in a 360-degree dome experience where shows are played on the roof, using its new projection equipment. A truly out of this world experience that should not be missed.

The cleverly designed interactive exhibition area allows little ones to explore outer space and broaden their curiosity for the intergalactic phenomena.

Other additions include enhanced changing facilities to assist those with additional needs, as well as a modern sensory room that provides an enjoyable and calming multisensory experience for all our visitors, with features including bubble tubes and interactive exhibits. The new and improved shop and café upgrades add an extra ‘day-out’ feel to the visitor experience.

Sinead Mackle, Education and Outreach Manager at Armagh Observatory & Planetarium said: “We are over the moon to announce our reopening. The team and our suppliers have been working hard to get the Planetarium ready and we are really looking forward to welcoming visitors back. The new improvements will really amplify our visitor experience, creating long lasting memories and sparking a curiosity to learn more about space. With more people staying local this summer, we are anticipating a really busy season.

“The dome experience will also offer something unique for adults too, as we are screening shows featuring the music of either Pink Floyd or U2 on selected Friday evenings.”

Whilst visitor experiences have been closed due to lockdown, research continued.  Sinead adds, “Our astrophysicists and astronomers have been continuing their leading and valuable research, as well as student placements in place and study ongoing.”

Tickets for the dome shows are available to purchase online via www.armagh.space and pre booking is required. The Planetarium is open to the public Tuesday – Sunday.