Galgorm Resort & Spa, Northern Ireland’s globally-recognised luxury hotel and wellness destination, played host last weekend to one of the world’s most prestigious hospitality award ceremonies, the World Luxury Spa & Restaurant Awards 2018.

Attracting over 200 guests including VIP’s, luxury spa & restaurant owners from 42 different countries and global media, Galgorm were privileged to have been selected as the host venue on 14th July. It was the first time the awards have been held in the UK or Ireland with previous hosts having included Qatar, Vietnam, South Africa and Thailand.The Awards are accepted as the pinnacle of achievement for luxury restaurants and spas worldwide. With all 32 categories voted for by diners and guests, they stand to reward and congratulate those restaurants and spas which have excelled in their hospitality and spa offering. Accolades are presented to winners on a country, regional, continent and global basis.

Galgorm played more than just host on the evening, with the Resort joining the winners of the night by taking the top award in 2 categories. The Spa at Galgorm scooped the coveted title of Best Luxury Countryside Spa (UK) while the Resort’s 3AA Rosette River Room Restaurant was named the Best Luxury Hotel Restaurant (Northern Europe).

With plans for an additional 64 new bedrooms, an exclusive roof top spa, additional external spa garden and executive lounge, Galgorm want to cement their reputation as one of the UK and Ireland’s leading spa destinations by continuing to bring unique first of a kind experiences and facilities to the Resort.The evening, which was hosted in the Great Hall at the Resort, treated the glamorous international crowd to a mythical Irish themed event complete with a lavish 5 course banquet showcasing the very best in local Northern Irish produce. 



Alex Best, star of “I’m a Celebrity…” and former wife of soccer legend George Best, officially launched Portaferry Gala Week at Exploris Aquarium. Press and VIPs basked in the sunshine in the courtyard of Exploris and were treated to a BBQ and an intimate taster gig from some of the artists who will be taking to the stage in the festival marquee from 15-21 July.

Veteran Irish rockers Bagatelle, who will be headlining on Thursday 19th July performed some of their much loved hits, including Summer in Dublin, Second Violin and Raining in Paris and were in awe of the sheer talent of local teenage pop/rock buskers Orlaith and Mollie, who will be supporting Derek Ryan on 18 July.  Local singer songwriter Michael Kerr, who is playing support to Bagatelle, performed some tracks from his latest EP Treasure Chest.

Cash Returns, the UK’s leading Johnny Cash Tribute, who will take to the stage on 16 July, effortlessly performed a few Johnny Cash songs with Ken Doyle from Bagatelle praising the lead singer by saying,  “Johnny Cash will never be dead when JP Mac from Cash Returns is alive.”

The launch finished on a high with star of Hit the Diff Ritchie Remo playing his upbeat repertoire. Kieran Quinn from Exploris is looking forward to the forthcoming festival.  He says; “Excitement is mounting as our festival is only a few weeks away and with such a strong and diverse line-up of music, this year’s music fest is sure to attract tourists from all over Ireland.  There’s no better, picturesque festival backdrop than Portaferry and the local hotel, shops and bars are so welcoming and friendly, it’s not surprising that so many people return year after year.  We have already received lots of pre-bookings for tours at Exploris Aquarium, during the festival, which I’m proud has become one of the leading tourist attractions in the heart of the Ards Peninsula.”

 Alex Best, who lived with George in Portavogie for three years, said; “I feel honoured to be the ambassador for Portaferry Gala Week, especially as Northern Ireland is my second home.  I have many fond memories of walking our dogs on the beach in Portaferry, eating at the Portaferry Hotel and buying furniture for our home from a quirky reclaimed furniture shop in Portaferry. I’m really looking forward to returning in July and the music will be fantastic.  There are so many talented artists from Ireland performing.”

Tickets for all concerts are available from or tel: 028 42728062.


Keith Drury Art

Internationally renowned artist Keith Drury held a special drinks reception and art exhibition at the Old Inn Crawfordsburn recently. Full coverage and photos from the night are available in this months Ulster Tatler.

Down Royal Summer Festival

The Down Royal Summer Festival of Racing took place over the weekend. The crowds were well and truly out with race goers making the most of the stunning weather. Full coverage will be available in our upcoming issue!



Bushmills® Irish Whiskey has kicked off the #BlackBushStories collaboration series, showcasing and celebrating those who have gone against the grain to follow their passion and become champions in their chosen field. A collaboration with Belfast photographer Ronan O’Dornan will see the talented documentarian host a mobile photography masterclass at House Belfast on Thursday 21st June in association with #BlackBushStories ambassador and acclaimed bartender Paul Rocks, who will offer a tasting session on some of Bushmills’ best loved whiskeys.

Former art teacher Ronan threw himself into a career in photography following a serious car accident in 2017 which pushed him to make the most of every day and pursue his passion for capturing people, moments and experiences in images. Ronan is now one of the country’s most exciting new talents, attracting commissions from big brands that see him travel all over the country to capture Ireland’s untold stories. The ‘Black Bush and Photography’ interactive event will see Ronan teaching attendees how to take great photos on their smartphones with tips and tricks that can be applied straight away, and how to tell stories through images. Alongside a tasting session, attendees will also be treated to specially-created Bushmills® Black Bush® drinks throughout the night where whiskey enthusiasts can experience the signature rich, fruity notes and velvety smooth character of Black Bush.

Bushmills Irish Whiskey has also collaborated with Ronan to launch an all-Ireland social media competition, whereby budding photographers are encouraged to find an Irish story that moves them and upload their photographs to social media using the hashtag #BlackBushStories. The photograph could be a city, a person, a landscape, a moment or anything else that captures their imagination. A winner from each county in Ireland will be picked and will receivea bottle of Black Bush, with the overall winner also receiving a Sony Xperia XZ2 smartphone and trip to the The Old Bushmills Distillery (including an overnight stay at the Bushmills Inn.) Inspired by the supreme craftsmanship, passion and care that goes into the special premium blend of Bushmills Black Bush, #BlackBushStories celebrates the stories and talents of independent, spirited and extraordinary Irish individuals who challenge traditional thinking in their fields and live outside the box. A series of immersive collaborator events will be held across the country’s leading venues over the coming months. Each event will celebrate those who have pioneered their craft with phenomenal success and have had the determination to nurture their talent to be the best they can be.

To register for ‘Black Bush and Photography’ and for more information on the photography competition visit



150th Anniversary of the annual Balmoral Show

The 150th annual Balmoral Show took place last week, see our gallery below.


Darkness Into Light

On Saturday, May 12th Pieta House and sponsorship partner Electric Ireland marked the tenth anniversary of Darkness Into Light, a global movement and fundraising event with over 200,000 participants across fifteen countries including thousands of people across nine venues in Northern Ireland who woke up and walked from Darkness Into Light to de-stigmatise suicide and raise funds for suicide prevention, suicide bereavement and self-harm in Northern Ireland.

From humble beginnings in 2009 with 400 walkers in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, Darkness Into Light, has grown from strength to strength.   This year the first walk took place in New Zealand as teams were setting up for the 180 locations across the island of Ireland. From there it moved to Australia, on to the US, the United Emirates, across Europe with Belgium, Spain and Germany, before finally crossing the Atlantic after Ireland and the UK, with the last event being on the west coast in Vancouver, Canada.

Clare McAllister, Sales and Marketing Manager, Electric Ireland, said, “We have been incredibly proud to support Darkness Into Light since 2013. We are thrilled with the swelling number of people participating every year, making this event a powerful international movement in the fight against suicide; together we can offer hope, community and solidarity to people impacted by suicide and self-harm.’’

Brian Higgins, the CEO of Pieta House, said, “I can’t thank the volunteers, supporters, participants and our sponsors Electric Ireland enough. Each year, I’m blown away by the support and compassion shown around the world on this very special day. We must not get complacent however, and I urge our walkers and the public to remember that the finish line is only the beginning of our journey. We need to replace suicidal thoughts and self-harm with hope and understanding and practice hope and empathy every day.”

Electric Ireland has sponsored Darkness into Light for the past six years. To celebrate all those who make the event a success, from participants to volunteers and fundraisers; an inspiring video has been produced which includes impactful scenes from the event to serve as a reminder that the finish line is just the beginning in the fight against suicide.

Watch Electric Ireland’s ‘Thank You’ video here:

Reception in Honour of the Nashville Sister Cities Delegation

 A reception in honour of the Nashville Sister Cities Delegation was held in the Discover Ulster-Scots Centre, Belfast on Tuesday 1st May.  The visitors from Nashville, one of Belfast’s Sister Cities, were welcomed by Ian Crozier (Chief Executive Officer, Ulster-Scots Agency).  The keynote speaker was former First Minister, the Rt Hon Arlene Foster MLA who brought good wishes from Northern Ireland.  The event saw the launch of the Ulster-Scot’s latest publication ‘Andrew Jackson, the first Scotch-Irish President’. The author, Billy Kennedy, gave a brief overview of the book and then signed copies for the guests.


Charles Hurst Land Rover Puts Belfast First At UK Awards

Charles Hurst has hit the top spot at Land Rover UK’s Retailer Conference for its aftersales service and expertise. Beating off keen competition from franchised dealerships in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, Belfast-based Charles Hurst Land Rover is now officially ‘Aftersales Retailer of the Year’. Recognising the prestige marque’s best UK dealerships and quality of service, Land Rover, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, singled out Charles Hurst’s Belfast Aftersales team for the top prize and praised the company for its dedication to providing a first-rate customer experience. Land Rover judges were impressed by the team’s commitment to consistently exceeding customer expectations in its aftersales service and the importance which it placed on new and longstanding relationships.

Andrew Gilmore, Charles Hurst Group Aftersales Director, said:

“Charles Hurst Land Rover has a very clear direction and customer focus on our aftersales service delivery and we’re really pleased that this is recognised by Land Rover UK and among our peers in the industry.

“Our award win is the result of a real team effort and I’m thrilled that our collective efforts have been noticed in this way.”

Charles Hurst also highlighted the contributions made by Land Rover Aftersales Manager Glenn McCartney and by Parts Manager David Cockfield, who helped in leading the Belfast’s team UK victory at the national awards.

Electric Ireland launch The Annual Wake Up Campaign

Jamie-Lee O’Donnell (aka Michelle from Derry Girls) joined other well-know Northern Ireland faces, including GAA legend Oisin McConville and Q radio’s Stephen and Cate to help launch Electric Ireland’s Wake Up campaign and encouraging people of all ages to sign up to walk from Darkness into Light. The annual Darkness Into Light campaign invites the people of Northern Ireland to Wake up and Walk on Saturday, May 12th to raise vital funds for suicide prevention, suicide bereavement and self-harm.

Electric Ireland, together with Pieta House, the organisers of Darkness Into Light which is now in its tenth year, have joined with some of Northern Ireland’s best known personalities to raise awareness that how we treat each other is a matter of life and death whilst also helping to de-stigmatise suicide and self-harm. Darkness Into Light has become much more than a fundraiser; it is now a global movement which touches the hearts and minds of people throughout Ireland and around the world with over 180,000 participants taking part last year. All registrations must be completed online by Friday May 4th to receive the new design, free Darkness Into Light t-shirt via post and secure a spot at a registered location.

Visit to register to Wake Up and Walk to help create a brighter future for everyone. Early registration is vital as spaces fill up quickly, for the latest news and updates follow Pieta House on Twitter  and Electric Ireland at

Northern Ireland venues for Darkness Into Light walks:

Antrim & Newtonabbey



Ormeau Park Belfast

Derry City





Jamie-Lee O’Donnell (aka Michelle from Derry Girls) is joined by sporting legend Oisin McConville, Q Radio’s Stephen Clements, Annette Kelly from Little Penny Thoughts and mental health nurse and blogger, Judy from French Grey Lifestyle who are all urging the people of Northern Ireland to Wake Up and Walk from Darkness Into Light on the May 12th. They are pictured with Kevin Caldwell of Electric Ireland, the proud partner of the annual event for the 6th year running, and Brian Higgins of Pieta House, organisers of the 5k walk. This year the walk will take place at nine venues across Northern Ireland helping to swell the numbers of the global movement of people who are waking up to the issue of suicide. All registrations must be completed online by Friday May 4th. Visit to register to Wake Up and Walk to help create a brighter future for everyone.

Hillsborough Festival of Literature & Ideas

The Hillsborough Festival of Literature & Ideas will take place Friday 27 – Sunday 29 April 2018 with.The festival offers more than 30 events taking place throughout the village, and will include poetry, prose, music, film and talks. Artists coming to the village include: one of Ireland’s most prolific and accomplished prose writers, Donal Ryan; Scottish First Book Award-winner Kerry Hudson; Seamus Heaney Centre Fellow Doireann Ní Ghríofa and NI Music Prize-winner Joshua Burnside. There are events for children and families, including The Great Hillsborough Book Hunt, writing and craft workshops, and Writers in Schools visits in association with Poetry Ireland. The festival is supported by Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council and is delivered by the team behind the John Hewitt International Summer School, a six-day festival of culture and creativity!

Full details here: