Culture Night Belfast 2013


Photo by Chris Laughlin

Culture Night has proved to be one of the best nights to experience some of the best entertainment in the city for free.

I had the opportunity to head to the event for the first time this year and had tried to plan what I wanted to see.

But there was so much happening, it was really better to just go where the night took you.

When I arrived at city hall there was a samba band already warming up and the weather was even mild despite a recent wintery snap.

Walking round the Cathedral Quarter, there was a genuine buzz which was contagious as a vibrant mix of people including families descended upon the area to enjoy the night.

Wrestling at Rosemary Street.

A wrestling ring erected at Rosemary Street was host to a battle royale, to the delight of one tiny blonde girl who was reveling in the semi-orchestrated violence.

Heading towards the Oh Yeah Centre, we came across Street Countdown. Based on an infamous episode of the IT Crowd, this version came with makeshift sign, lively host and crowds providing the countdown ‘bong’.

Richard Whiteley (lest we forget) at Street Countdown.

Richard Whiteley (lest we forget) at Street Countdown.

Then in Writer’s Square, in one area there was dancing and singing, and in another the fast and furious girls of Belfast Roller Derby who were providing an outside demonstration of the contact sport. The track was cordoned off with metal gates and they seemed like caged animals spinning round – and it was exciting to witness.

After that it was a Johnny Cash tribute at the gorgeous Dark Horse Bar, which attracted a huge crowd for the man in black.

An impressive light installation was found at the DSNT event along with some pumping techno, and upon leaving we found ourselves in, of all things, a jazz funeral complete with lead mourner in white suit with matching white hair. They were grieving for democracy.

We joined in the procession until we got to Keats & Chapman bookstore, where surrealist stand-up Paul Currie was doing a one-hour show that turned into nearly two hours for free.

We arrived in time to see a man take offence to one of his sketches, which involved trying to feed the audience milk from an ironing board. You probably had to be there, but rest assured, it was very funny.

Paul Currie's Sticky Bivouac show on North Street.

Paul Currie’s Sticky Bivouac show on North Street.

But of course there were so many other things that I just didn’t manage to catch, but that’s probably part of the night’s magic.

Speaking to others afterwards, everyone who went had their own unique experience and tales from wherever Culture Night took them, all of which sounded like great adventures.


Photo by Chris Laughlin

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Belfast Banshees vs Dublin Roller Girls

FOR their first inter-league bout, Belfast Roller Derby did not set themselves an easy challenge.

The team headed down to Dublin’s National Basketball Arena on Saturday 4 February to take on the Dublin City Rollergirls on Saturday and it was going to be a David and Goliath scenario.

The Dublin team were on top form, many of their players were fresh from representing Ireland at the first ever Roller Derby World Cup in Canada – and they proved to be aggressive and agile competitors, especially offence from BA Blockus and Kitty Cadaver as well as lightning speed efforts from jammers Jessica Rammit and Kim McKazi.
And the points quickly reflected that, Dublin built up a quick 100 point lead that kept climbing, but it wasn’t a painful bout to watch, it was inspiring.

Gutter Snipe tries for a takedown (Pic by Chris Craig)

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The New Year schpeel

ImageNew Year. It never lives up to expectation for me and usually ends badly.

So I like to think it’s just the old year kicking and screaming on its way out, it doesn’t necessarily mean the new year will be bad. So it’s now that I’ve started to think about resolutions and what I want for the year ahead.

So for this year I’d just like to keep moving forward.

I decided at Christmas that if I didn’t get settled into a more permanent job here that I will have to move. So this year I’m going to start saving so that I can emigrate if it comes to it. I would appreciate any advice on this, as I’m thinking of New Zealand, but would consider any English-speaking regions with good job prospects.

Apart from that, I will continue the job/work hunt as I would like to work here where my friends are.

I’d like to continue contributing to magazines or other publications but need to be tougher on getting paid for it. It is great to see your name printed in a publication, but there comes a point where that is no longer enough if it is going to be your profession.

As well as keeping an eye out for journalism opportunities, I’ve been looking into getting some other part-time work and would love anything in PR, communications, event management etc so please get in touch if you have something or see something that might suit me.

My other resolutions will be to be healthier, Christmas is such a fattening time of year!

I’d also like to keep going to roller derby training, but I feel I may be lousy at it forever. I’ll probably go back with the next set of newbies and give it my best but it is really tough.

I’ve never been good at sports, ever. I’ve always been terrible. But I feel like I need to start challenging myself more and stop telling myself that I can’t do things. So I’ll give it another whack. And if anyone would like to be my coach and get me skating like a badass that would be great also ;)

I guess my resolution is to push myself – and not let disappointment get the better of me, which is something a lot of us graduates will have to strive at.

Oh – and to have more funand see my friends more, which is something everyone should do!

Happy New Year everyone.

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Set to Soar

featured in COVERWest magazine. Pic: Faye Rossi

ALLIE Bradley is a singer-songwriter from Maghera, Co. Derry-Londonderry who after deciding to step her music career up a gear, has done just that with the release of her second EP this year.

The 25-year-old has always been into singing and writing music, learning how to play guitar from the age of ten.

“I began singing in choirs when I was at school and always loved performing and singing. When I was around ten I learnt how to play the guitar and from around that age I began to sing by myself singing covers and basically just experimenting with my vocals,” she says.

“I sang in competitions and got heavily involved in Irish traditional music, competing in scórs both as a solo singer and also in groups. I won the All Ireland Scór na nÓg solo singing competition when I was 16 and that gave me more confidence to embark on performing by myself. From that age I started to write my own music and compose melodies and lyrics.

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Ciaran Gribbin: Castledawson man new singer for INXS

Published in the Mid Ulster Mail

CASTLEDAWSON musician Ciaran Gribbin has been named as the new lead singer of popular rock band INXS. The shock announcement was made this week that he has joined the band as their new frontman and a new song featuring Ciaran called ‘Tiny Summer’ was revealed on their website.

Speaking to the Mail, he said: “This is unbelievable, fairytale stuff for me. I grew up listening to this band, and I’m a massive fan of INXS. I remember when I was 12 watching MTV for the first time and seeing that band and being blown away. At that age you’re really influenced by what you hear and I can remember standing in my living room with hairs standing up on the back of my neck thinking ‘Who is this band?’. Twenty years later I’m going to walk out on stage with them.”

The 35-year-old had previously been performing under the stage name Joe Echo. The Grammy-nominated songwriter is not unfamiliar to working with big names, previously he has collaborated with Madonna, Paul McCartney, Snow Patrol and Groove Armada to name a few. He went on to write and record all the original songs for last year’s top indie flick ‘Killing Bono’, based on the novel ‘I Was Bono’s Doppelganger’.

The Mid Ulster musician met Australian INXS member Andrew Farriss in November 2009. He says they immediately hit it off and kept in touch, meeting up at Christmas last year when he was on a family holiday in Australia.

“Andrew had written all the hits for the band with Michael Hutchence, and he felt he needed someone who could help them recreate some of the stuff they were doing in the past. He says he’s found the magic with me that he’d lost when Michael died, that in itself was just an amazing thing for me to hear as a songwriter,” he said.

“It just grew organically, we kept writing stuff and it was very fruitful and before I knew it Andrew had suggested to the band that I could be the guy that they were looking for. I met with the band and we rehearsed and went through some of the material and we hit it off. They’re very successful rockstars but they’re very grounded people and there’s no egos, I never felt in any way intimidated.” The band released the track ‘Tiny Summer’ on their website last week to give a taster of things to come.

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Jewellery crafts made by me!

Large donut necklace £4.50

I’ve been practicing some jewellery making and here is my first batch!

As these are my first, I’m offering them for reasonable prices – they are handmade and will have some finger print marks or little imperfections but that just shows they are handmade!

I’ll be trying other designs but if you would like to buy any of these or would like something similar comment (I can do custom colours) here or email me. Thanks!

Custom colour and topping combinations available

Choc chip muffin necklace £5.00

Rose necklaces (purple, pink, red, yellow) £4.50

Purple rose

Strawberry swirl cupcake necklace £4.50

Donut bracelets £5.00

Ice cream scoops necklace £8

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A Different Mother

Flash fiction piece from fiction writing course at the Crescent Arts Centre. Featured in a booklet for Belfast Book Festival.

A scream rose from the upstairs nursery. Ingrid ran to the room to find her daughter staring at the white crib with a horrified expression on her face.

‘What is it Helen?’ she said. She looked into the crib to see the baby was alive and well.

‘He has a tail!’ Helen cried. Ingrid looked again into the crib and noticed a short, fat fleshy stub protruding just above the baby’s bare buttocks.

‘Oh dear. That is not good,’ she said.

‘Not good! What am I going to do? How could this have happened?’ Helen was beginning to hyperventilate. She paced around the room.

‘I’ll have to call the doctor! He’ll think I’ve been hiding it. It wasn’t there last night, this doesn’t make sense!’

‘You should have put some iron at the door,’ Ingrid said.

‘What is the doctor…what are you talking about mother? You’re not helping!’ Helen walked out of the room and returned with the phone to her ear.

‘Hello, yes. I need an appointment today. It’s my baby. No…I can’t explain but it’s very important he see a doctor today.’ She tried to speak calmly. She stared at the child as she finished up on the phone.

‘He looks different. I think he’s…hairier. And his nose… looks bigger. Oh God!’ She began to cry.

‘I’m afraid the doctor can’t help you dear,’ Ingrid said. ‘The iron cross I gave you would have kept her away.’ Helen looked at her angrily. ‘Oh mama, you can’t believe those old wives’ tales!’

‘I’m sorry Helen but it’s the only explanation. A troll mother has your baby. She’s swapped her ugly son for Ben!’

The offensive infant let out a loud, horrible burp. Helen began to cry again. Ingrid put her hand on Helen’s shoulder.

‘Come on, we must find something to barter for your son.’

Under a stone bridge in the parklands nearby, something female rocked a baby. She was strange, wild and well-suited to living under rock.

‘My beautiful boy,’ she cooed. ‘you are just perfect!’ She tickled the baby’s toes and he giggled joyfully.

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