The Belfast Girls are Back to Cause Havoc in Armagh!

After finding fame on Facebook back in 2016 with his character Big Bernie Greene, Michael Mulcahy has gained over 180k followers.

His comedic sketches see a whole host of his ingenious characters play out scenarios set to make anyone laugh, and his new show, Belfast Girls: On the Run is no exception.

Bernie finds herself in hot water with the police after flogging the latest weight loss pill to half of Belfast! So, Bernie, Betty and Michelle find themselves on the run! And what better place to hide than the local convent? Surely no one’s going to look for her there… right?

Grab your mates and your Blossom Hill and come and find out! You don’t wanna miss out on the craic!

Featuring all the Belfast GIRLS favourite characters Big Bernie Greene, Michelle, Shankill Joe and Ma and introducing brand new characters.  Packed with the songs from the Belfast GIRLS page this comedy play will have you dancing in the isles.

This show contains strong language and adult material. Recommended age 16+

‘Belfast Girls: On the Run’ will be on stage at Armagh’s Market Place Theatre on Wednesday 1st May at 8pm. Tickets are priced at £20

Tickets for all shows can be booked online at www.visitarmagh.com/marketplacetheatre or through the Box Office on 03300 561 025.

The National Theatre’s WAR HORSE comes to the Grand Opera House in 2025

THE NATIONAL THEATRE’S MULTI-AWARD-WINNING PRODUCTION OF WAR HORSE COMES TO THE GRAND OPERA HOUSE IN FEBRUARY 2025

The National Theatre’s global smash-hit production of War Horse, the unforgettable theatrical event based on Michael Morpurgo’s beloved novel, will embark on a major 18-month UK Tour and will take to the Grand Opera House stage for its Northern Ireland premiere in February 2025.

War Horse will run at the Grand Opera House for two weeks from Tuesday 4 February to Saturday 15 February 2025, and tickets go on sale today for Gold & Silver Friends, Wednesday 17 April 2024 for Bronze Friends, and general on sale is this Friday, 18 April 2024.

War Horse, adapted by Nick Stafford and originally directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, has become the most successful play in the history of the National Theatre, winning more than 25 major awards and has been seen by over 8.3 million people worldwide. This new tour is co-produced with Michael Harrison, Fiery Angel, and Playing Field.

War Horse tells the remarkable story of a young boy called Albert and his horse Joey, set against the backdrop of the First World War. This powerfully moving and imaginative drama is a show of phenomenal inventiveness, filled with stirring music and songs, featuring ground-breaking puppetry work by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, which brings breathing, galloping, charging horses to thrilling life on stage and has inspired a generation of theatre-makers since its premiere in 2007.

Director, Tom Morris said, “It is a huge privilege to be invited to revisit War Horse and to share this powerful story once more with audiences around the country. Michael Morpurgo’s brilliant idea, to explore the crushing violence of war through the experience of a horse, makes his story as powerful and resonant today as it has ever been. And in this time of increasing commercialism in theatre, it’s worth remembering that the production which carried War Horse to an international audience was a wild experiment, developed through workshops at the National Theatre Studio, the unique theatre laboratory where ground-breaking hits from Coram Boy and London Road to The Witches were devised. It has been an enormous thrill to return there in recent months to reunite Adrian Kohler’s magnificent puppets with designer Rae Smith, composer Adrian Sutton and other members of the original cast and creative team to start the process of bringing Joey back to the stage.”

Author, Michael Morpurgo said: “I am so delighted the National Theatre’s iconic production of War Horse is back! When Covid closed the show down in 2020 in Australia in the midst of its second World Tour, many thought, and I was amongst them, that we’d never see War Horse on stage again. Now it’s really happening – we will hear the music and songs, be amazed by its design and lighting, live Joey’s story again. War Horse is about the tragedy of war and about a horse and his boy, but it’s also so many other things – it’s about family and community, courage and loss, hope, and most importantly reconciliation.”

At the outbreak of World War One, Joey, young Albert’s beloved horse, is sold to the Cavalry and shipped to France. He’s soon caught up in enemy fire, and fate takes him on an extraordinary journey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in no man’s land. Albert, who remained on his parents’ Devon farm, cannot forget Joey. Though still not old enough to enlist he embarks on a treacherous mission to find him and bring him home.

This tour of War Horse marks 110 years since the start of the First World War and follows the 40th anniversary of the publication of Michael Morpurgo’s global best-selling novel, which has now sold over 35 million copies world-wide and in 37 different languages.

Executive Director of the National Theatre, Kate Varah said: “We are delighted that we are able to launch this major new UK tour of War Horse. This moving and spectacular production has captured the imagination of millions of audience members across the world since it was first performed on the Olivier stage in 2007 and we are deeply appreciative and excited, to be working with our co-producers to make this possible in the current landscape. We look forward to connecting with our partner venues with this much-loved story, that appeals to all ages and which beautifully showcases the magic of live performance.”

Creative development for the tour is being led by Tom Morris with revival director Katie Henry, featuring reimagined designs by Rae Smith and additional music by Adrian Sutton. Puppet design and fabrication is by Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler for Handspring Puppet Company, lighting design is by Rob Casey, movement and horse choreography is by Toby Sedgwick with puppet direction by Matthew Forbes. Animation and projection design is by Nicol Scott for 59 Productions, John Tams is songmaker and sound design is by Christopher Shutt. Casting is by Jill Green CDG and associate designer is Will Fricker. Casting is to be announced.

War Horse received its world premiere on 9 October 2007 at the National Theatre, where it played for two seasons before opening at the New London Theatre in March 2009. Since then, War Horse has been seen in 97 cities in 14 countries, including productions on Broadway, in Toronto and Berlin, with touring productions in the UK and Ireland, North America, the Netherlands and Belgium.

For more information visit WarHorseOnStage.com.

War Horse on tour is supported by Charles Stanley, the National Theatre’s Touring Partner.

North Down Museum Celebrates Transport Through the Ages at New Exhibition

North Down Museum recently opened a new exhibition ‘Trains, Boats and Planes,’ exploring and celebrating modes of transport through objects from the museum’s collection.

The museum’s collection possesses a wealth of paintings and artefacts relating to transport and the curated display is a celebration of the movement of people by rail, sea and sky.

Visitors can see an array of artistic interpretations of magnificent vehicles, from the Coronation Scot train to the de Havilland Rapide aircraft flying over Bangor, to tall ships and warships in Bangor Bay. Many of the items have been put on display especially for the exhibition, offering a unique opportunity to view them.

Highlights include paintings by Bangor-born artist Norman Whitla and original travel and tourism posters that were issued by British Railways to promote Bangor in the 1950s.

Speaking about the exhibition, North Down Museum’s Manager, Arlene Matthews said: “This exhibition highlights the huge impact that transport has made in shaping the history of our borough. Transportation has facilitated the growth of industry and opportunity in our towns and villages and continues to play an essential part of our daily lives.”

Trains, Boats and Planes is open in North Down Museum’s Long Gallery until Sunday 16 June. Admission is free.

For more information visit: www.andculture.org.uk

Hundreds Of NI Companies & Experts Set To Attend National Construction Summit In Dublin

Hundreds of construction companies and experts are set to travel to Dublin next week for the annual National Construction Summit at the Sport Ireland Campus, Blanchardstown.

Taking place on Thursday April 18, the event incorporates a comprehensive programme including a wide array of seminars and free workshops, the National Construction Summit, organised by Premier Publishing & Events, will also feature an extensive exhibition area, showcasing the latest products, services and technology for the construction, engineering, sustainable building, maintenance and architectural sectors.

Key Conference themes at the 2024 National Construction Summit include: Jobs, Skills, Training and Education; Infrastructural Investment; Public & Private Housing; Finance; Building Materials & Services Innovation; Foreign Direct Investment (FDI); Project Ireland 2040, the Housing For All Plan; Smart Design for Off-site Construction; Construction 4.0; Green Technology; and Sustainability.

Speakers at the conference will touch on a variety of subjects including discussing the fact that construction output in Ireland is forecast to grow by 3.2% in 2023 and 4.4% in 2024, according to Euroconstruct, an independent construction market forecasting network active in 19 European countries. Which is in contrast to output declines in construction across Europe.

Attendees will also hear about the Government’s housing policy for housing for all all to 2030. A multi-annual, multi-billion euro plan, it is designed to improve Ireland’s housing system and deliver more homes of all types for people with different housing needs. It has a built-in annual review mechanism to respond to progress made in implementing the plan, to challenges in implementation, and to changes in the external environment.

The conference will discuss the fact that housing supply has been increasing, and the continuing increase in house prices and rents indicate that demand for housing is still growing at a faster pace than supply.

The conference will also touch on the challenges being faced by the sector discussing how the construction sector is a vital component of the Irish economy providing the necessary infrastructure required to sustain Ireland’s economic growth and competitiveness and to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). According to a recent EY Economic Advisory report, the value of Irish construction output is projected to reach €35.2 billion in 2024.

Although the Irish construction industry is undergoing a steady recovery following subdued activity in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it faces significant challenges, such as rising materials costs, skills shortages and difficulties in planning and public sector procurement.

Innovation will also play a central role in the event with many speakers discussing the fact that in order to design and construct the sustainable buildings and infrastructure required by a growing population and to help businesses adapt to the challenges of the unfolding fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0), the construction industry throughout Ireland needs to rapidly adopt innovative technologies and techniques. However, there is concern that the industry is not evolving fast enough to meet these changing needs.

The National Construction Summit will host over 100 speakers across seven stages. Included in the day will be a series of panels on topics ranging from “Building a Resilient Workforce: Attracting and Retaining Skilled Construction Talent”, “Voices of the Irelands MMC Sector: Priorities and Perspectives for a Sustainable Future”, “How PPPs can help meet Ireland’s infrastructure challenges”, and “Is Ireland Destined to Become a Secondary Data Hosting Location?” 

Agendas for the event are now live at nationalconstructionsummit.ie/agenda and details on all speakers are available at nationalconstructionsummit.ie/speakers 

The National Construction Summit also includes a number of co-located events which include:

  • Project Controls Event
  • The Architecture, Design and Planning Expo
  • BIM & Digital Construction Show
  • The Data Centre and Critical Infrastructure Expo
  • Fit-out & Interior Live
  • Health & Safety
  • Lean Construction Show
  • Modern Methods of Construction
  • Modular & Offsite Construction Show
  • The Engineering Summit
  • The National Facility Management and Maintenance Show
  • Passive Construction & NZEB
  • Smart & Green Building Expo

 

Registration is free at nationalconstructionsummit.ie

Offers of the week from Discover Northern Ireland

Burrendale Hotel, Country Club and Spa, Newcastle, County Down

  • Welcome spring with two nights B&B nestled beneath the Mourne Mountains. Visit Newcastle, just a ten-minute walk away, and explore the miles of sandy beaches and boutique shops on offer. Relax and unwind with a two-course evening meal and full complimentary use of the Country Club, including the 12m indoor heated pool, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi. From £240 based on two people sharing. Visit com for more information.

Da Vinci’s Hotel, Derry~Londonderry, County Londonderry

  • Step into spring with a break in the Walled City. Enjoy an overnight stay in a spacious room and indulge in a sumptuous two-course evening meal at Caterina’s Bistro. Kickstart your break with a complimentary bottle of bubbly before you explore the heart of the city! Finish your break in comfort and style as you wake up to a full Irish Breakfast. From just £145 per couple. Visit com for more information.

Book in advance to avoid disappointment. Subject to availability.

For more information on what’s on or to plan a short break in Northern Ireland, visit discovernorthernireland.com.

10 things to do in Northern Ireland

Here are ten exciting things to do 15-21 April

 

  1. Ballymoney Spring Fair, Ballymoney, County Antrim, 19-20 April. Enjoy free family-friendly activities and lots of carnival colour at the Ballymoney Spring Fair. Look out for vintage cars, live music, dance displays and a showcase of the best artisan produce in the area. Animal lovers can visit the free petting farm at Seymour Street car park where attractions include a variety of interesting animals and creatures. Take the opportunity for a close encounter with a range of birds of prey with a fun falconry experience.

 

  1. The Cloughmore Experience, Rostrevor, County Down, 20 April. Prepare to marvel at the epic views of the Mourne Mountains and the fascinating insights of local adventurer and guide, Peter Rafferty, on a guided walk/hike through a visually stunning landscape. On this winding adventure that follows the Glen Stream, hear the sound of bubbling water while embracing the wonders of nature. Along the way, nibble on edible wild plants as you share the great outdoors with native birds and wildlife.

 

  1. Dusk Chorus, Belvoir Park Forest, Belfast, County Antrim, 20 April. Finish your busy day with the beautiful evensong of a variety of local birds! This is the perfect way to relax and unwind as you reconnect with nature and enjoy a twilight walk through the stunning Belvoir Park Forest. Make sure you bring a torch and wear warm clothes and good footwear.

 

  1. Dino Dig – Fossil Fun at Marble Arch Caves, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, 21 April. Have a roaring good time at this dinosaur-themed messy play event where children can explore the prehistoric world through a variety of messy activities and sensory experiences. From excavating fossils to creating volcanic eruptions, this event promises to ignite imaginations and spark curiosity. Get ready to stomp, squish and explore your way through the Jurassic period with these engaging and interactive messy play activities.

 

  1. Afternoon Tea in Montalto House, Ballynahinch, County Down, 21 April. Feel like a Georgian guest at Montalto House whilst enjoying an elegant traditional afternoon tea. Taste a selection of delicate finger sandwiches accompanied by freshly baked scones and a variety of handcrafted miniature pastries and sweet treats. Learn about the rich history of Montalto on a guided tour and explore the grandeur of the 18th century Georgian mansion along with its wonderful collection of original art and antiques.

 

  1. The Lost Boy – Street Scenes and Soldiers’ Tales, Derry~Londonderry, County Londonderry, 20 April. Northern Ireland Opera presents a staged performance of songs at The Playhouse, by Banbridge actor and musician, Conor Quinn. ‘The Lost Boy’ explores a young man’s journey into adulthood with themes of hope, loss of youth, and songs inspired by unrest and war. This spine-tingling, thought-provoking performance features work from both cabaret and musical theatre.

 

  1. Cranfield Alpaca Beach Treks, Kilkeel, County Down, throughout April. Meet a friendly alpaca and take them for a leisurely stroll down country lanes, enjoying the stunning views as you head down to a beautiful, golden beach. Join the alpacas for some unforgettable fun in the sand! This beach trek lasts roughly 90 minutes and includes light refreshments.

 

  1. Orchard/Cider Experience and Cooking Demo at Lough Meadow Farm, Portadown, County Armagh, 20 April. Enjoy a fully immersive orchard/cider experience in the company of the McKeever family. You’ll learn about the production process for their award-winning products including their Apple Cider Vinegar. Relax in their new glass fronted Bramley Barn and enjoy a hot cuppa and some freshly made granny’s traditional griddle soda bread accompanied by a selection of cheese and chutneys.

 

  1. Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, County Tyrone, throughout April. Journey back in time at the Ulster American Folk Park. Discover what life was like in rural Ulster and hop on board a full-scale emigrant ship and experience the cramped quarters many endured on their dangerous journey to America. Don’t miss the traditional craft demonstrations by the talented costumed guide!

 

  1. Scarva Summer Band Concerts, Scarva, County Down, 21 April. What better way to spend a peaceful afternoon than relishing the relaxing music set amongst the award winning floral displays and watching the world go by under a sunny Scarva sky. Visit the fabulously floral Scarva village and enjoy a varied programme of summer band concerts adjacent to the Victorian style band stand.

For more information on what’s on, or to plan a short break in Northern Ireland, visit discovernorthernireland.com.

Embrace Northern Ireland’s Giant Spirits

Four new locations added to the Northern Ireland Spirits Trail

Calling all spirit adventurers! The Northern Ireland Spirits Trail & Distillery Passport has been updated with four more distilleries and spirit-led experiences. 

Created by Tourism Northern Ireland, the NI Spirits Trail & Distillery Passport is a collection of 14 unique experiences, where tradition meets innovation, and every sip tells a story of people and place.

With the new additions, there has never been a better (or more exciting time) to visit.  Whether you are a spirit enthusiast or a curious explorer, Tourism Northern Ireland invites you to ignite your sense of adventure and discover what makes each of them so unique.

New highlights include a ‘double’ for Belfast, with the addition of Titanic Distillers, Belfast’s first working whiskey distillery in almost 90 years, which stands at the birthplace of the Titanic, and the captivating return of the iconic brand of McConnell’s, the city’s newest distillery located in the former Crumlin Road Gaol.

For those who want to create their own, one-of-a-kind spirit, make sure to check out the Earheart Gin School at the Walled City Brewery in Derry~Londonderry or discover why Two Stacks are emerging as one of the most innovative blenders of Irish Whiskey in County Down.

Whether it’s uncovering the secrets of small- batch distillation, indulging in a guided tour and tasting of award-winning spirits, or exploring the art of craft cocktail making, each stop promises an unforgettable experience.

NI Spirits Trail & Distillery Passport New Distilleries:

 

  • Step back in time at Titanic Distillers in Belfast, the city’s first working distillery in almost 90 years. Located at Thompson Dock where the Titanic once stood, it offers a fascinating glimpse into Belfast’s whiskey tradition and its recent revival. Now you can walk in the footsteps of the shipyard workers, the air thick with stories of former glory, and experience the new spirit of Belfast’s famous docklands.

 

  • McConnell’s Distillery, one of Ireland’s oldest whisky brands, it was born in Belfast in 1776. It has opened the doors of its new home in the landmark setting of the A-Wing of Crumlin Road Gaol. This state-of-the-art distillery and visitor experience hosts guided tours and cocktail masterclasses. Visit the tasting bar and retail offering or relax in its cosy café.

 

  • Discover the unique story of Two Stacks Irish Whiskey Bonders & Blenders in Newry. Home to ‘Dram in a Can’, a world first; learn about the true art of blending whiskey and enjoy exclusive access to Two Stacks’ ultra-rare casks, extracting and tasting the whiskey yourself.

 

  • Located at the end of the Peace Bridge, in Ebrington Square, the award-winning Walled City Brewery is housed in a historic military barracks. Their Earhart Gin School offers you the opportunity to craft your own gin. With your own miniature copper still, a wide array of botanicals to choose from, and expert guidance from the distillery team, you’ll embark on an unforgettable gin making adventure.

 

A key element of the Northern Ireland Spirits Trail is the Distillery Trail Passport. Visit each of the unique experiences, collect a stamp on your passport and receive a special souvenir when you have completed all fourteen locations.

 

Pick up you Distillery Trail Passport at any of the 14 distilleries or visit NI Spirits Trail | Distillery Passport to plan your next giant adventure.

 

Please drink responsibly. 

The Countdown is on to Ards International Guitar Festival!

The Ards International Guitar Festival arrives in Newtownards next week with a fantastic line-up celebrating local and international guitar talent. Featuring everything from classical to rock, the programme promises something for every musical taste. Hosted by Ards and North Down Borough Council, the festival runs from Wednesday 17 – Sunday 21 April.

Highlights on this year’s programme include the brilliant Martin Harley who has been making music and touring the world for almost 30 years. His down to earth sound explores roots, blues and slide guitar in a style The Guardian referred to as ‘spellbinding.’ Harley has released nine albums to date, four recorded on home soil and four across the Atlantic, in Texas and Nashville. Martin will take to the stage in The Queen’s Hall, Newtownards on Friday 19 April with support from Matt McGinn and Matt Curran.

One of the UK’s leading classical guitarists Manus Noble, will perform his show ‘A Bard’s Tale’ at Ards Arts Centre on Friday 19 April. Known for his unique sounds, original compositions and varied programmes, Noble has performed at some of the UK’s leading venues such as Wigmore Hall, King’s Hall and Royal Festival Hall. ‘A Bard’s Tale’ takes the audience on a journey across time and continent with music performed on guitar, Irish bouzouki, handspan, shruti box and voice.

The festival is delighted to welcome back previous Lifetime Achievement Award Winner (2017) Sarah McQuaid, whose chocolatey voice combines with her engaging personality, “subtle mastery onstage” (Huffington Post) and “brilliant musicianship” (fRoots). Performing on acoustic and electric guitars, piano and (occasionally) drum, McQuaid’s performances create a truly immersive experience. McQuaid will be appearing at Ards Arts Centre on Sunday 21 April, supported by Martha Greer.

Other highlights of this year’s programme include; the Comedy Classic Soundtracks with Paul McMordie and Bill Campbell, Tony Villiers and The Villains at The Ivy Bar and Pictures in Rock, an exhibition of curated photographs by music photographer Keery Irvine at Ards Arts Centre.

Speaking about the festival, Ards Guitar Festival Director, Emily Crawford commented:

We are tuning up for a fantastic few days of live guitar music in Ards next week. There’s real Blues vibe running through this year’s festival and an opportunity to hear international acts like Martin Harley and Sarah McQuaid right on your doorstep. We have something to appeal to every taste.”

For ticket details or to view the full programme please visit: www.ardsguitarfestival.co.uk  or alternatively call Ards Arts Centre on 028 9181 0803

BLUEGRASS OMAGH 2024: WHERE MUSIC MEETS ULSTER-AMERICAN HISTORY

– Thousands of people expected to descend on Ulster American Folk Park this May  –

Set against the backdrop of Ulster American Folk Park, Bluegrass Omagh is back, and this year’s festival promises an unforgettable weekend of music, culture and history.

Scheduled for the May Bank Holiday weekend 4th to 6th, Bluegrass Omagh honours the enduring legacy of Appalachian settlers who carried their songs and stories across the Atlantic. The vibrant music and culture they left behind is reflected in the event’s programme, with performances from some of the finest bluegrass acts in the world.

From bluegrass and old-time to Americana and country genres, taking to the stage on both dates this year is an impressive array of local and international talent. The line-up includes European bands such as Rookie Riot, American bands such as Nothin’ Fancy and local musicians and songwriters such as I Draw Slow and Pilgrim St.

Now in its 32nd year, Bluegrass Omagh has always aimed to unite thousands of fans from across the world, fostering cultural exchange and community spirit whilst also highlighting the historical significance of Ulster’s connection to America, which the  Ulster American Folk Park is known for.

With accolades from professional Bluegrass associations and a prestigious nomination by the International Bluegrass Music Association for “Bluegrass Event of the Year,” John-Paul Coyle, General Manager at Ulster American Folk Park, discusses why Bluegrass Omagh resonates with audiences far and wide.

He said: “Over the last three decades, this event has become one of the largest bluegrass events outside of North America, welcoming thousands of fans every year. This is because Bluegrass Omagh offers a one-of-a-kind music event for visitors from both home and afar to delve into history and discover the rich heritage connecting Ulster and America through world-class bluegrass music. It’s become a flagship event at the Ulster American Folk Park because we’re a unique location to put on such an event, creating an inclusive and lively atmosphere for everyone while celebrating the shared history and music traditions of the people who emigrated to the heartland of Appalachian America. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a big music fan, or simply seeking a unique cultural experience and something different for your bank holiday, there is something for everyone at Bluegrass Omagh and we hope to see an even bigger numbers join us for a weekend of fun this year.”

Chris Sexton, speaking on behalf of Nothin’ Fancy, expressed the band’s excitement about being part of the esteemed festival. He said: “It is a delight and an honour to be part of the Omagh festival lineup. We are stoked and ready to bring our music and entertainment to beautiful Northern Ireland, and this is a chance of a lifetime that we will certainly enjoy and remember for years to come.”

Since it began, the Bluegrass Omagh festival has become part of the fabric of Omagh that delivers for the local economy with domestic and international tourists enjoying the town’s hospitality offerings and other tourism hotspots in the region.

Speaking about the Bluegrass Festival, Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Thomas O’Reilly, said: “I am delighted to see the return of the Bluegrass Festival this year.  Over the three decades which the Festival has been taking place, it has evolved to be the biggest Bluegrass Festival outside of America.

“I believe the success of the Festival is due to the unique location of the Ulster American Folk Park and the eclectic mix of local talent and performers from across the Atlantic.

“We are fortunate to have the Ulster American Folk Park in our District as this award-winning attraction and the range of events it hosts are a welcome boost to the local economy, in particular the tourism and hospitality sector.

“I would like to commend National Museums NI and the staff at the Ulster American Folk Park for another excellent programme.  I would encourage everybody to attend to the Festival to enjoy the atmosphere and celebration of music, culture and community.”

Over the bank holiday weekend, festival-goers can also enjoy an array of entertainment alongside warm hospitality, delicious food and traditional craftwork.

As anticipation builds for the event, Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive at National Museums NI, emphasises the festival’s significance in bridging cultural connections. She said: “Ulster American Folk Park plays a pivotal role in exploring the narratives of Ulster emigration to America in the 18th and 19th centuries, serving as a gateway to understanding the successes endured by those who embarked on the journey across the Atlantic. Bluegrass Omagh stands as a testament to the importance of preserving and promoting cultural traditions through music and community engagement. We look forward to seeing our home-grown talent join their fellow international bluegrass bands come together to share their music.”

Festivities will kick off on May 3rd with a Friday Night Opening Concert at the Strule Arts Centre in Omagh, and finish with a bluegrass-themed Family Day at the Ulster American Folk Park on May 6th.

Festival attendees can access the event via Translink services, with return buses available from Belfast and Derry~Londonderry.

For more information about Bluegrass Omagh and to purchase tickets, visit ulsteramericanfolkpark.org/whats-on/bluegrass-omagh-2024

Green Lane Museum re-opens for new season

Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens, Councillor Steven Callaghan has re-opened Green Lane Museum in the heart of the Roe Valley Country Park, offering visitors the opportunity to explore 19th and 20th century history relating to rural life in the Roe Valley.

There will be temporary exhibitions and craft demonstrations taking place at selected times throughout the spring and summer seasons.

The facility, which is free to visit, is now open every weekend and Bank Holiday between early April and the end of September.

After a period of closure, the museum reopened in April 2023 with the help of the Roe Vally Ancestral Research volunteers.

Since its reopening last year, the museum has welcomed over 4,000 visitors from across the UK, Republic of Ireland and further afield.

It is open to the public on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 11am until 3.30pm.

However, ‘Walk and Talk’ tours can be arranged for schools and other groups outside of these hours via a member of Roe Valley Ancestral Researchers.

Opening the museum, Cllr Callaghan said: “I just want to thank our generous volunteers for sacrificing their time and effort to help the public appreciate all that we have here.

“The Museum closed during COVID, but the collection, which is owned by Council, was looked after by Museum Services throughout this time and the building was maintained by DAERA.”

Cllr Callaghan also praised the team of “dedicated council staff” who look after the collection and maintain its accreditation.

“They have supported the Roe Valley Ancestral Researchers in enabling them to open to the public so thanks them also,” he said.

“The museum has been an important part of our Borough, keeping the memories of the past alive and allowing the younger generations to learn about the old ways of life.”

There are number of events coming up at the museum, including visitor portraits on the early May bank holiday and traditional home skills and dressing up on the late May bank Holiday.

For more information on upcoming events, email museums@causewaycoastandglens.gov.uk  or follow us on Facebook @CausewayCoastandGlensMuseumServices