The Great Belfast Tee Off

Belfast is putting itself on a par with The Open as City Hall gets on course to host The Great Belfast Tee Off.

Belfast City Council has teamed up with Belfast One and Tourism NI to transform the lawns of the city’s most iconic building into a putting green to celebrate the golf competition being hosted in Northern Ireland.

The Great Belfast Tee Off will get the ball rolling on Sunday 14 July and activities will run from 11am to 6pm daily, until the closing day of the major championship on Sunday 21 July.

The nine-hole crazy golf course will challenge people of all ages to navigate their way around some of the city’s most famous landmarks, including the Albert Clock, the famous H&W cranes, and Titanic Belfast.

During the week-long celebration, City Hall will be dressed to impress with golf banners and the building will be lit in blue and yellow on Sunday 21 July to mark the final day of the 148th Open.

For more information visit

The Perfect VenYou in Belfast

It’s clear that there is a growing need for good office space in Belfast.  However, VenYou in association with the Scottish Provident Building knows that organisations want more than just a space they want the full package.

Donna Linehan, VenYou Client Services Director explains: “Our focus is on making the space work for the company.  VenYou is a service, one in which ‘You’ is the central point. You just tell us what you want and we deliver.”

With an ethos centralising around the clients’ needs, VenYou enables companies to make a statement without the need for their own building.  From contemporary to traditional, VenYou tailors working spaces to help companies create an interior and a working space that helps them achieve their ambitions.

Donna continues, “We understand that fast and flexible is the future, that companies want to concentrate on doing business, and doing what they do best. We have the ability to service their business needs as well as help them grow whether within one building or move into a larger bespoke space in another.”

Jonny Hill, Operations Director, VenYou commented “Basically, once you have identified the location that meets your needs you can leave everything else to the team at VenYou.”

For more information please visit or call 028 9091 8500 to speak to a member of the team.

Life and Times of Belfast’s Mary Ann McCracken

The Belfast Charitable Society has launched an updated version of ‘The Life and Times of Mary Ann McCracken – A Belfast Panorama’, which was first published by its author Mary McNeill in 1960, and will be republished on the date of her 249th birthday.

Mary Ann was a central figure in Belfast’s history, tirelessly working for the cause of the poor, children, women, workers and slaves. Paula Reynolds, Chief Executive of the Society explains; “Mary Ann McCracken was an abolitionist, social reformer and activist who fought for the rights of women and championed Belfast’s poor throughout a long life that encompassed the most turbulent years of Irish history.”

This republication is the first major piece of work undertaken by the Mary Ann McCracken Foundation, set up by Belfast Charitable Society to celebrate the life and works of this remarkable woman, and her legacy and relevance today.

Paula concluded; “We are very thankful to the family of Mary McNeill, who themselves have had a long history with our organisation, and have given us permission to republish. Both Mary Ann McCracken and Mary McNeill, her biographer, were tireless activists for children and the disadvantaged throughout their respective lives. The Belfast Charitable Society is proud to recognise these two important women in its history through this republication.”

Published by Irish Academic Press the book is available now to pre-order online at

Garden Party Fundraiser

A garden party was recently held in memory of Benjamin Davis, who tragically died in an accident in San Diego last year. The event, organised by his family raised money for the amazing charity, The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, who were a great help and support to the family at the time of Benjamin’s death. Edna and Colin, founders of The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust were among the 450 guests who attended the garden party. A great day was enjoyed by all with music by Punk Papa, Blues Cats and Gentlemans Jukebox. A raffle with amazing prizes such as sports memorabilia and Rayban sunglasses went down well with guests, as well as an auction and a ballot with a Lunns watch up for grabs.

Photographer: Michael Lowther

UPPS Awards Gala

The Ulster Post Primary School inter provincial squad were presented with their awards at a presentation night in Kelly’s Inn for their outstanding performances in Gaelic Football. They were entertained by the young musicians from Fintona CCE. Gerry Doherty was the MC and welcomed everyone to the gala. Ulster Schools Chairman Paddy Donnelly and Ulster President Eileen Jones addressed the attendees and a four course meal was enjoyed by everyone. After dinner, each girl received their All Star award from President Jones.  

For further coverage of this event see our June issue, now on sale.

Maldron Hotel Belfast International Airport Wins Hospitality Award

Marianne Hood, Chair of The Institute of Hospitality (NI), Maria Conway from award sponsor MKB Law, Brian Tracey Hotelier of the year and host Pamela Ballantine.


Brian Tracey from Maldron Hotel Belfast International Airport has won Hotelier of the Year at the recent 24th Institute of Hospitality (NI) Awards.

The Institute of Hospitality (NI) annually recognises the most dedicated and passionate professionals working across Northern Ireland’s ever-expanding hospitality industry.

Brian Tracey, from Maldron Hotel Belfast International Airport and Institute of Hospitality (NI) Hotelier of the Year, said: “I am absolutely privileged to have won the Institute of Hospitality (NI) Hotelier of the Year Award. I would like to thank the team at Maldron Hotel Belfast International Airport for their continued support, hard work and dedication.  Also a sincere thank you to McAleer and Rushe and Dalata Hotel Group for their confidence and guidance.”

Marianne Hood, Chair of The Institute of Hospitality (NI), said: Now in their 24thyear, these are the longest established hospitality awards in Northern Ireland, recognising the success of individuals working across all sectors of the hospitality industry. Those who have won an award are shining examples of the high calibre of the Northern Ireland hospitality industry!” 

The award comes at time of a continued £3m investment at the hotel by owners McAleer & Rushe. Shortly the hotel will move into the refurbishment of 8 ground floor meeting rooms.

For further details on the Maldron Hotel Belfast International Airport visit

Tourism NI continues its ‘Epic Journey to The 148th Open’

Local schools, golf clubs, tourism industry representatives and sports stars joined together at Belfast City Hall to celebrate the first official stop of Tourism NI’s community engagement campaign ‘The Epic Journey to The 148th Open’.

The community event will take place in every county in Northern Ireland, as well as Dublin, to mark the excitement and civic pride surrounding the return of golf’s most prestigious championship to Royal Portrush for the first time in nearly 70 years this July.

The 148th Open at Royal Portrush will be beamed to over 600 million viewers across the world, and is set to attract 190,000 eager spectators, with a team of 6,000 staff and 500 volunteers warmly welcoming visitors.

The Championship has already achieved record-breaking ticket sales as the first ever Open to sell out and Tourism NI is inviting local communities to join the excitement and get involved in the countdown to July.

Aine Kearney, Tourism NI Director of Business Support and Events, said:

“The 148th Open is the biggest event that Northern Ireland has ever held and has been years in the making. The Championship will shine a spotlight on Northern Ireland, placing us on a global stage and leaving a lasting legacy. We are ready to welcome the hundreds of thousands of visitors who will be joining us to watch a truly spectacular sporting event.

The Epic Journey to The 148thOpen tour will include golf’s most iconic trophy, the Claret Jug, along with a giant #TheOpen letter sculpture, designed by Tourism NI and made out of 4,000 golf balls, which was unveiled by global golfing hero and former Open Champion, Rory McIlroy, last October.

Rory McIlroy commented:

“The Open returning to Portrush is massive for Northern Ireland, everyone is so excited and is getting behind it. I never thought I would have the opportunity to play in a major championship at home and I’m really looking forward to it. You can really feel the buzz here already, it’s going be a fantastic year as we get ready to welcome The Open for the first time in over half a century.”

Practice day tickets are available for sale from and a limited number of new hospitality tickets are also available across Championship days.

For further information


Young Playwrights Shows Performed At Lyric Theatre

The Lyric Theatre and Fighting Words Belfast have reached the final hurdle of the Young Playwrights Programme ahead of their performance this Sunday 10thMarch.

From January, 6 young playwrights (aged 14-18) have been working with industry professionals to bring the scripts they have written to life. Under the guidance of professional actors, directors and designers, the plays have taken shape, allowing these young people to understand the creative process and gain experience.

These brand-new pieces will be performed as part of the 21stBelfast Children’s Festival on a showcase at the Lyric’s Naughton Studio on Sunday 10thMarch.

The Right Twig has been led for the Lyric Theatre by Rebecca Mairs, Literary Manager at the Lyric Belfast, who said:

“It’s been such a pleasure to work with these fantastic young writers over the course of this pilot programme, and we’ve been bowled over by their enthusiasm, commitment, and fascinating ideas.  If this group are anything to go by, the future of Northern Irish theatre is in good hands. ”

Emily DeDakis from Fighting Words Belfast, said:

“It’s brilliant to have the space to work in-depth with these six amazing teenage writers. They’ve got a unique chance to learn & experiment right in the Lyric — and it’s so important that our national theatre feels like their home.”

This programme has been supported by Belfast City Council and by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

The Right Twig is showcased for one night only on Sunday 10th March at 7pm. This is a free event but booking is required.

Contact or 028 9038 1081 for more information.

Mervyn Stewart Named ‘Retailer of the Year’ by Skoda UK

Local firm Mervyn Stewart has been announced as the Retailer of the Year by Skoda UK – the top award at this year’s prestigious ceremony held in Tobacco Dock, London.

The award presented by singer-songwriter and Skoda Brand Ambassador Paloma Faith recognises the achievements of best performing Skoda Retailers in the UK Network.

Mervyn Stewart is a family run business, with expert local knowledge – operating in Belfast for over 50 years. Mervyn Stewart’s North Down branch claimed the award which is based on 10 Key Performance Indicators such as customer satisfaction, after sales performance, training, vehicles sales and finance performance.

Stephen Stewart, Managing Director at Mervyn Stewart comments: “I am absolutely delighted with the result. It is only possible to win this award when everyone is focused on delivering excellence for our customers and what makes it so meaningful is that we achieved it together. I’d like to say a huge thank you to all of our staff and customers, without them we would not be here.”

Mervyn Stewart topped off its previous sales category win from 2018 by taking home this year’s coveted top prize – based on excellent performance throughout the year. Karen Bickerstaff, Operations Director for Mervyn Stewart commented: “We are extremely proud to have won this award, it is a credit to the whole team who work extremely hard all year to ensure we provide the best possible service to our customers. The sense of team spirit in the dealership is incredible and everyone works so well together, it’s a great team to be part of.’

The annual awards were created by the Czech manufacturer to highlight the hard work and dedication of its Retailer network. With 130 retailers across the UK and Northern Ireland and 10 key categories awarded, competition is fierce.”

Rod McLeod, Director, ŠKODA UK, commented on the awards: “We are proud to work alongside some of the best retailers in the UK. Our retailers continue to deliver fantastic service and value to customers and I’d personally like to congratulate the whole network for their results over the past 12 months.” For more information visit or find us on Facebook.

TV chef James Martin’s ‘adventure’ comes to Northern Ireland

The superb Northern Irish food scene is in the spotlight this week in Great Britain with millions of people set to tune in to two episodes of the popular ITV show James Martin’s Great British Adventure, which were filmed here in Northern Ireland. The episodes, aired on Thursday (21 February) and Friday, were created by Blue Marlin and supported by Tourism Ireland and Tourism NI.

In the first episode, viewers see James meet up with his friend, chef Paul Rankin. Together, they visit the Giant’s Causeway, where they cook a fish stew for some of the tourists visiting the site. They visit Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil in Limavady and chat with owner Leona Kane. They also take part in a hovercraft race at Foylehov Activity Centre and, after a spot of mackerel fishing off the north coast, James prepares a mackerel and grapefruit salad for the crew.

Belfast, Moira and Strangford Lough all feature in the second episode. James enjoys a tour of Belfast with Paul Rankin and checks out some of the new visitor spots in the city, before heading for a game of golf. He meets with chef Danni Barry at her restaurant, Clenaghans in Moira; and checks out the nearby Himalayan Salt Chamber. James also spends time on Strangford Lough, fishing for his all-time favourite seafood – langoustines – and then cooks up a delicious lunch with the langoustines on the harbourside.

Julie Wakley, Tourism Ireland’s Head of Great Britain, said: “We are delighted that the James Martin’s Great British Adventure crew chose to film two episodes in Northern Ireland. It’s a really great way of highlighting the superb culinary experience on offer here. Food and drink are vital elements of the holiday experience nowadays, so our message here in GB is that Northern Ireland is a superb choice for ‘foodies’ for a holiday or short break.

“Television and film are recognised as strong influencers for prospective holidaymakers and Tourism Ireland regularly works with TV and production companies in GB, and elsewhere around the world, to facilitate the making of travel and lifestyle programmes in Northern Ireland.”

Award Winning Illustrator Visits Northern Ireland Schools

More than 700 pupils from 10 different schools in Newry, Derry/Londonderry and Belfast will enjoy a visit from award winning author and illustrator, Catherine Rayner as part of the Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour.

The Children’s Book Tour is a national charity which aims to transform lives through reading and writing. It is supported by Scottish Friendly and organised by the Scottish Book Trust. Over the years, the event has captivated more than 100,000 children with visits from over 100 individual authors since they began in 1998.

Catherine Rayner studied illustration at Edinburgh College of Art. She lives there now with her husband, young son and her pets. She finds huge inspiration in her pets and often uses them as models, furthermore she has also spent hours sketching tigers in the freezing temperatures.

Her books have been nominated for several awards, including the UK literary Association Awards and the CILIP Greenaway medal.

During the book tour Catherine will work with the pupils on drawing and illustrating, giving step by step guides so they can draw characters from her books. She will also give insight to how she produces her characters by sharing her sketchbooks so they can see how characters develop – with a focus on how many mistakes she makes, and there’s no ‘right’ way to create a picture book.

Over 35 restaurants set to dish up deliciousness for Belfast Restaurant Week

Belfast One and Destination CQ invite you to ditch the dishes this February as they launch Belfast Restaurant Week, a seven day long celebration of the city centre’s fantastic culinary offering.

Whether it’s classic French cuisine overlooking City Hall, tapas below the twinkling lights of Cathedral Quarter, or pizza and a pint, the event is certain to serve up a gastronomic feast for everyone.

The joint venture will run from Monday 18 to Sunday 24 February across over 35 restaurants in the BT1 and BT2 areas, with workshops and chef demonstrations in St George’s Market on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd February.

Belfast One and Destination CQ are bringing Belfast Restaurant Week 2019 to the city centre as part of their marketing strategy aimed at driving domestic footfall by promoting the retail, leisure, culture, and entertainment offering, and showcasing what a unique city Belfast is.

Speaking at the launch of the event, Julie McCullagh, Marketing Manager of Belfast One said:

“We have been delighted with the interest from restaurateurs keen to sign up and the offering is shaping up to be absolutely fantastic.

“Each and every restaurant has worked hard to develop a special menu or event which will showcase their cuisine, their uniqueness, and their location within the city.

“We want to celebrate the amazing range of restaurants from the multi-award-winning Deanes, Coppi and The Great Room at The Merchant Hotel, to the new and emerging Jumon, Edo, Buba, Pizza Boutique and many, many more.

Julie concluded: “There is an excellent variety of food on offer so that every palate, budget, and dietary preference is catered for and the city will be alive with variety, flavour and most of all, choice.”

Gareth Neill, BID Manager, Destination CQ continued: “This fantastic event is aimed at showcasing the unique hospitality offering in Belfast and encouraging people to stay after work, have dinner somewhere new and enjoy the vibrant offer of what’s going on in Belfast.”

“From Monday to Thursday, diners can enjoy two courses for as little as £10 or £15 in over 25 restaurants from 5pm to 7pm.”

On Friday and Saturday there will be food workshops and chef demonstrations at St George’s Market, in partnership with Belfast City Council, from 10am to 3pm, as well as a host of other events across the city.

The week will be concluded with the Big Belfast Brunch on Sunday from 11am to 3pm which will be held across a number of restaurants.

A full list of the participating restaurants can be viewed at