Love or Money

Belfast playwright Rosemary Jenkinson’s latest play asks what is more important in life, to find love or achieve a successful career?

Published blogs 26 February 2016


Michael Condron and Roisin Gallagher in Love or Money. ©Ciara McCarrie

They hit it off and the pair try to open up and be as honest as they can without scaring each other off with the baggage that single people in their 30s can accumulate.

She tries to divide attention between her new boyfriend and her rather mean boss played by Michael Liebman, who takes Eilish on after her departure from another firm to find herself ‘Eat Pray Love’ style after a marriage break-up.

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Former NI priest describes ‘fear’ in Paris

Posted 15 November 2015

A former Ardoyne parish priest now serving in Paris has spoken about his parishioners’ fear and uncertainty following Friday’s terrorist attacks.

Father Aidan Troy is parish priest at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in the French capital.

The cleric born in Bray, Co Wicklow, was based at Holy Cross Church in Ardoyne for many years.

France is in a three-day period of mourning following the attack which killed 129 and injured over 350 others.

Survivors have been returning to the scene to pay their respects to the dead.

Fr Troy said on Saturday he was inundated with enquiries about whether his church would be open on Sunday.

“I think today the feeling is actually trying to comprehend and to understand what actually happened on Friday night, because everyone would know this from Belfast and Northern Ireland generally that when something happens there is an immediacy about it and then, 12 hours later you begin to piece together,” he told UTV.

“I really felt it was just beyond our comprehension on Friday night.”

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U2 in Paris tribute at Irish tour opener in Belfast Nov 2015

U2 paid tribute to the people of Paris during the encore of their show at Belfast’s SSE Arena on Wednesday night, the opener of their homecoming tour.

The Irish rock band played City of Blinding Lights while images of the Arc de Triomphe flashed up among cityscapes.

An image of the Eiffel Tower morphed into a peace symbol, which has been used as a symbol of solidarity since last Friday’s terror attacks appeared on screen, bearing the message “Stronger Than Fear”.

 The song’s lyrics were inspired by the band’s first concert in New York following the September 11 attacks.


The band who are Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr, have always made a point of standing defiant against such acts of violence, and launched their American tour four weeks after 9/11, playing three nights at NYC’s Madison Square Garden.

It was the Irish rockers’ first show since they were forced to cancel two shows at the weekend in Paris, after 129 people were killed and hundreds injured in co-ordinated IS shootings and bombings.

Bassist Clayton wore a Stiff Little Fingers T-shirt in tribute to the Belfast punk band who went ahead with their gig in the French capital on Tuesday night.

Footage of a bombed-out Syrian city and migrants walking on railway tracks created a dramatic backdrop, as frontman Bono warned against a backlash against refugees.

He asked concertgoers whether they wanted a “Europe with its heart open, or borders closed to mercy”.

The singer said everyone deserved “a place called home, somewhere safe, a place called hope, where we refuse to hate because we know that love will do a better job”.

The band opened with The Miracle (Joey Ramone) to massive cheers and played hit after hit for two-and-a-half hours at their first gig in Belfast for 17 years, and as Bono played their final song before the encore, he thanked the fans for their “patience”.

For an international band like U2, the 11,000-capacity SSE Arena became an intimate venue, which managed to accommodate their complex stage featuring a runway into the crowd, elevated platform that transformed into different animations, sometimes surrounding the band.

The Innocence and Experience tour has a nostalgic theme focusing on the men’s formative years, and touched upon Bono’s courtship with his wife and the loss of his mother Iris when he was 13.

The four-piece introduced themselves as a band from the north of Dublin and they explored the influences that brought them to pick up their instruments and start a band.

A giant light bulb swung from the ceiling during Vertigo, evoking Bono’s childhood bedroom, which later was depicted in an animation.

Songs about the Irish conflict inevitably featured, with a chilling audio-visual display interlinking Sunday Bloody Sunday and Raised by Wolves.

Raised by Wolves, about the Dublin Monaghan bombings, took on a whole new poignancy following the recent terrorist attacks: “Blood on the street, the worst things in the world are justified by belief”.

The song ended with a list of atrocities that occurred during the Troubles, followed by “all victims of violence, let them not be forgotten, PEACE”.

Every Breaking Wave, the video for which was filmed in Belfast, saw Bono singing with guitarist The Edge on piano, in one of the most stripped down performances of the elaborate stage show.

After City of Blinding Lights, they finished the concert with uplifting hits Beautiful Day and One, with the crowd joining in in singing.

The band were famously part of Northern Ireland’s history during a crucial time in the peace process when they played a special concert at the Waterfront Hall. It seemed fitting then that they returned as the prospects of stability returned to the political process following a year of crisis after crisis.

U2 play another night at the SSE Arena on Thursday before heading to Dublin’s 3Arena for four nights next week.

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Will Young ‘excited’ about first album in four years

Will Young has told UTV the prospect of performing live again is nerve-wracking but he is excited to be releasing his first album in four years. April 2015


Will Young is releasing a new album next month. ©Tom Van Schelven

His new album 85% Proof is released next month and is his first since Echoes in 2011, which went to number one.

During that period he has been involved in theatre, was nominated for an Olivier Award for his role in Cabaret, he has presented a documentary and showed his political side in blogs for the Huffington Post.

But during a whirlwind stop in Belfast, he said that the recording process is still a thrill for him.

“It’s the most exciting thing,” he said.

“That’s kind of why I take breaks from it, because if I was doing it the whole time, it wouldn’t mean so much.

“So when I came back to write the record 85% Proof, I did it 10 days with Kish Mauve and his band that I did the last record with.

“We’re all really good friends and there’s no kind of ego, there’s no nerves, we just kind of trust each other and we just did it. It was unbelievable.”

The first soulful offering from the album, Love Revolution, features lyrics from the 2003 dance anthem Loneliness by Tomcraft, something that Will said came about spontaneously.

“I didn’t set out to do any samples, it’s all about the music, if something comes up that works in the song, then it works in the song,” he explained.

“I think I’ve done one other sample in my time which was a Bill Withers one, it’s a pleasure to use it if someone lets you use it.”

“It’s been a while since I’ve sung live so it’s nerve-wracking and it’s exciting and I think that’s the best thing – if I wasn’t nervous then it would mean that I wouldn’t care.”

Will Young

“It’s a great track, it came about because Jim Eliot, who does the music from Kish Mauve, came back and said ‘look I’ve flipped the track completely and we can do this’ – and I said ‘that’s awesome’.”

Will said he is hoping to perform in Northern Ireland when he hits the road again to tour.

“I definitely hope so, I am just waiting to organise the route. Touring’s brilliant because you get the music out to the people. It’s when the music comes alive,” he said.

The English artist said during a previous tour he has done a spot of surfing on the coast here.

“They were quite big waves and I got up on the first wave and I thought, ‘hey’, because everyone was looking and I thought people are going to be really impressed…and I had a gig that night.

“The second wave, I completely wiped out and I’m not joking, because the surf board is tied to you, it flipped round and literally skimmed my teeth, I mean it would have knocked my teeth out, I couldn’t believe it.

“So then I took it really gently after that!”

Will came to fame from winning X Factor’s predecessor, Pop Idol in 2002, and despite a rocky success rate in other artists’ longevity after similar competitions, he says he wouldn’t discourage anyone from trying it to break into the music industry.

“I’d recommend any avenue,” he said.

“I tried many avenues, sending off demos, writing to all the record companies, I worked for Sony Publishing when I was at university.

“I think you try any avenue and if a talent show is one, then it’s cool, so long as you stick to your guns and remain true to yourself then I think any avenue is good to get out there.”

The singer has managed to carve out his own identity as an artist in the years following the TV show, and he credits this to having good people around him.

“I had a great manager, Simon Fuller, who I still, even though I’m managed by IE I still have very strong ties with Simon,” he said.

“He moved me away from Simon Cowell quite quickly and I think that was a good move.

“They just looked after me brilliantly, and I did interesting videos with great video directors, great producers, Steve Lipson, who did two of my records, and I’ve had another great manager Fay, who’s been with me for my whole [career], 13 years, and great people around me.”

He added: “You choose the people around you, I take credit for that, and also they keep me level headed, if I become an idiot, they just tell me ‘you’re being an idiot, so shut up’.”

Love Revolution is released on 18 May, followed by the album 85% Proof on 25 May.

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Snapper captures shooting stars over Fermanagh sky

Published 14 August 2015

A local photographer has spent the last two nights star-gazing in Fermanagh, capturing beautiful shots of the annual Perseid meteor shower at its peak of activity.


This year the Perseids coincided with a new moon, creating the ideal dark sky conditions and were briefly joined overhead by a bright man-made star, the International Space Station (ISS).

The Perseids reached their peak on Wednesday and Thursday night when over 100 meteors an hour were produced.

 Onlookers in the Midlands and north of England had a particularly good view, but Northern Ireland also enjoyed a starry spectacle.

Martin McKenna from Maghera, Co Londonderry headed to the Fermanagh Lakelands for a chance of clear skies with another snapper and his partner to capture the moment.

They counted almost 500 shooting stars between them over their stint in the prime location.

“It’s the most I’ve ever at any meteor shower yet in over 18 years observing, we were really impressed,” the photographer said.

“It was 100% clear, completely dark, the Milky Way was so bright it was glowing like a luminous cloud coming down from the sky, so these were perfect conditions,” Martin continued.

“We were standing on this beautiful wooden jetty beside one of the great lakes of Lower Lough Erne and we let the camera do its thing and looked up and watched.”

“Getting a clear moonless night doesn’t happen very often, so everything came together for the perfect recipe for a phenomenal light show.”

Martin McKenna, photographer

Martin said the sky was alight with colour as the meteors streaked through the night sky.

“You would get quiet spells and then get three, four, five would happen at the same time,” he explained.

“Every one was unique, some were faint, some were bright, some were extremely bright, some were what you would call fireballs, and that’s any meteor brighter than the planet Venus.”

Martin said his highlight was capturing one of those fireballs.

“It left a straight glowing line in the sky behind it once it burnt up for a few seconds, it was really cool, like a green colour,” he said.

“The fireball itself flashed in the sky, it was a real beauty.

“We had that all against this beautiful backdrop, this huge lake, covered in ghostly mist all around us, with geese in the distance and trout coming up to the surface – it was beautiful –serene conditions and the meteor shower was perfect, we didn’t want it to end!”

Meteors are the result of particles as small as a grain of sand entering the Earth’s atmosphere at high speed and burning up.

They can appear anywhere but seem to emerge from a single point, or “radiant”. The Perseid’s radiant is in the north-east constellation of Perseus.

Professor Mark Bailey, director of Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland described the Perseids as the “best and most reliable meteor showers of the year”.

He said: “The joyous thing about the event this year was the moon was well out of the way and it did happen to be a clear night which is quite unusual in this part of the world.”

Professor Bailey said the next chance for a really good display will come from the Geminids in December.

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Baby’s burnt throat trauma highlights battery hazards

A mother whose daughter ended up in intensive care as a baby after a button battery she swallowed eroded her oesophagus, has urged parents to be aware of the dangers in the lead up to Christmas. October 2015

Five-year-old Eva McCafferty from ‪Ballymoney‬ swallowed a button battery when she was just 14 months old.

She was admitted to hospital with life-threatening symptoms, after the battery became lodged and burnt her throat.



(L) Eva pictured as a baby, and (R) an X-ray shows the battery lodged in her oesophagus.

Eva required emergency surgery to remove the battery and spent a prolonged time in intensive care.

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Slurry accident farmer recalls ‘being gassed’

A farmer who suffered oxygen starvation after “being gassed” has told his survivor story to demonstrate the dangers of mixing slurry.

From Sept 2015


Co Antrim farmer Alex Walker had a near fatal incident when mixing slurry in February 2001.

Mixing slurry can be a particularly dangerous job for farmers as slurry gas – which contains extremely poisonous hydrogen sulphide – is released very quickly, and in large quantities, as soon as the mixing starts.

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