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Armagh I Podcast
A podcast dedicated to covering the latest sports news from across Co. Armagh.
3 days ago
Puppy love with The Dog Guru, Keith Mathews
"I've heard you help people with horse problems," says Kristen Scott Thomas' character in the film ‘The Horse Whisperer,’ to which Robert Redford's character replies: “Truth is, I help horses with people problems.” And that pretty much sums up this week's Armagh I podcast guest, Keith Mathews - albeit with a different species of animal. Keith, or, ‘The Dog Guru’, as he is most famously known, has worked his magic with our favourite pets for over 25 years. He is one of the most sought after dog trainers and behaviourists in the world – and the Armagh man wouldn’t wish for any other career. It all began for Keith in a field at his house where, as a child, he discovered his innate gift for understanding dog behaviour and his ability to train the family dogs.
Sep 19, 2021
Ryan McShane takes us from Britain’s Got Talent to Dancing With The Stars
If you know your Paso Doble from your Foxtrot and winter weekends aren’t complete without a glimpse of the coveted glitterball and the tears and triumphs of a dance-off, then you’ll be very familiar with Ryan McShane. The Lurgan native is one of the professional dancers on Ireland’s Dancing With The Stars since the show began in 2017, where he has taken his celebrity partners through their paces before facing the scrutiny of both judges and viewers alike. For this week’s podcast, Ryan spills the beans on how the audition process at Britains Got Talent really works and what it’s like behind the scenes on Dancing with the Stars. The talented dancer has had plenty of highs and lows on DWTS. He survived three dance-offs with Erin McGregor – the sister of UFC fighter Conor – more than any other professional in the history of the show. He received three perfect 10s in the final of the first series with actress Denise McCormack. They didn’t win but Ryan won the heart of his model girlfriend Thalia Heffernan who was also a contestant. Ryan was also partnered with B*Witched singer Sinead O’Carroll and Mrs Brown’s Boys star Eilish O’Carroll, who he says was one of the nicest human beings he has ever met. Ryan fills us in on the secret to getting the best from his students – be they celebrities or kids or adults who teaches ballroom and Latin to. He tells us what his favourite dance is and which is the hardest to learn. Ryan tells us about life in lockdown with Thalia and their two dogs. And what the future holds for them since Thalia signed for IMG – one of the biggest modelling agencies in the world.
Sep 10, 2021
Emma McQuaid – Ireland’s CrossFit Queen takes the world by storm
The world is a pretty big place, so to be able to say you are one of the fittest women on planet earth in one of the most gruelling competitions in the world, is a claim reserved for the very few - but one that Emma McQuaid can shout from the rooftops. Emma earned her place in the top echelon of the multi-disciplined sports movement, CrossFit, by finishing twelfth in the CrossFit Games held in Wisconsin last month. The 31-year-old Lisburn fitness instructor has dedicated most of her adult life to the sport that she loves and has worked her way up to the highest level possible. To put this achievement in perspective, Emma, who ranks number one CrossFit National Champion of Ireland for the past two years, was just one of over 263,000 athletes from across the globe who took part in the Open qualification for the CrossFit Games this year. That number was whittled down through a series of workouts in the quarter and semi-finals, until just 40 men and 40 women were left in contention for the finals in the USA. One would imagine that Emma would have been training hard and looking forward to the challenge ahead after she qualified, but there were even more hurdles – of a very different kind – to overcome.
Sep 4, 2021
Cathy Brady – Award-winning Newry film maker lights up silver screen with Wildfire
You know when you’re watching a film in a cinema theatre and you could hear a pin drop from start to finish, that your time is well spent. That’s what it felt like at a screening in Belfast of Cathy Brady’s debut feature film ‘Wildfire’ ahead of its release on September 3. The Newry writer and director won Best Director for ‘Wildfire’ at this year’s Irish Film and Television Awards and both of her leading actresses Nora-Jane Noone and the late Nika McGuigan were nominated for Best Actress. Nika, who tragically died of cancer in 2019, after the film was made, won the award, accepted on her behalf by her father, boxing legend, Barry McGuigan. The critical success of the film has been a roller-coaster of emotions for Cathy and the rest of the cast and crew. They are excited and delighted that audiences are connecting with the film, yet Nika’s absence is sorely felt. At the same time, having had some space to grieve during lockdown – with all red carpet events virtual - they are ready to celebrate the film and to keep Nika’s memory alive by allowing her talent and hard work to be recognised. For this week’s podcast Cathy took time out of her hectic schedule to chat with Armagh I over zoom and tell us all about the making of the film, the respect and admiration she has for Nora-Jane and Nika and how her own career evolved from fine art to making movies.
Aug 27, 2021
Gemma Winchester – Omniplex Manager stuck a pin in the map and it landed on Armagh
Gemma Winchester was born and raised in Singapore until she was 15-years-old and then she moved to Australia – although most of her 15 years there was spent travelling the world by sea or air. But two things brought the newly-appointed general manager of Armagh Omniplex to our shores - one sad, the other happy. Gemma’s younger brother has Down’s Syndrome. He lived with their mother in Bournemouth and because of his condition they discovered he wasn’t allowed to move to Australia to join the rest of the family. Rightly outraged, Gemma decided to leave Oz and move somewhere in the UK so the family could be together. She stuck a pin in a map and it landed on Armagh. For this week’s podcast, Gemma tells us all about her jam-packed life...
1 hr 1 min
Aug 20, 2021
How loss of youngster sibling led three sisters to set up Sibling Grief Club
Sibling Grief Club was launched in July of this year by three sisters grieving the death of their youngest sibling. Triona McNabb sadly passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in hospital on February 27, 2017. She left behind a legacy of love, but also a family bereaved and desperate for support as they tried to navigate unchartered waters Triona’s three older sisters, Maeveen, Edel and Cathy quickly discovered that there was little or no support specifically for grieving adult siblings, who are often termed as the ‘forgotten mourners’. For this week’s podcast, Maeveen talks lovingly about her sister Triona and her kind and caring nature. She recalls the debilitating quagmire of feelings she has gone through since Triona’s death, and Maeveen tells us all about Sibling Grief Club and how she hopes it helps other people like her and her sisters throughout their grief.
Aug 13, 2021
An insight into the mind of record-breaking open water swimmer Jordan Leckey
For this week’s Armagh I podcast, we caught up with Jordan Leckey, outside the Discovery Centre in Lough Neagh where he trains regularly with the Lough Neagh Monster Dunkers. He told us all about his epic swim NI to Scotland, from exactly what it felt like the moment he dipped his toe into the water to face the long, gruelling journey ahead, to the perils he had to deal with in the freezing cold water, right to the finish line with the last kilometre feeling like the longest. Jordan says he wanted nothing more than to give up in the first two hours, which he says were the hardest. He persevered however and once his body was numb to the cold and he tricked his mind into thinking about other things, all of his hard work, including building a swimming pool in his back garden to train in, got him to Scotland in record-breaking time. Jordan’s support team, including his dad and some members of The Lough Neagh Monster Dunkers and the Infinity Channel Swimming group were immensely supportive. And with the achievement just starting to sink in and the adrenaline still running high they have convinced him to take his time before planning his next challenge – Jordan has plans however…
Jul 30, 2021
Cara Malone of Supporting Women Newry – 'protesters with dignity'
Supporting Women Newry does just what it says on the tin. The group was set up around six months ago by seven local women, and since then it’s gathered an enormous amount of support from the public, health care staff and political parties alike. The purpose of the group is to, 'provide free access to health care without fear or intimidation'. And yes – they support men too – but given their remit it’s most often women who require their help. They came into being on the back of an awareness of a growing number of anti-abortion protesters harassing people who were trying to access services at John Mitchell Place clinic in Newry. These protestors displayed graphic posters along with disturbing and often frankly untrue banners and signs, protesting and blocking entrances, during the hours when abortion clinics operated - alongside all of the other family services in the clinic. The Southern Trust moved its services as a result but the protesters – diminished in size but not in voice – followed. Cara Malone is one of the committee members and founders of Supporting Women Newry and for this week’s podcast she explains how and why they operate.
Jul 23, 2021
Tony Bagnall - sportsman, musician and scribe
If you take a spin out to Camlough Lake or Newry swimming pool you might run into this week’s podcast guest. You might also read his name on one of the eight books he’s written about subjects ranging from local football histories and sporting heroes, the story of the showband era - 'Do You Come Here Often'- the history of Derrybeg, plus the only book written on triathlons in Ireland, 'The Irish Triathlete'. His latest book –‘The History of Newry Celtic,’ was just launched to a full house in Nan Rice’s in Newry. Tony Bagnall, - Journalist, musician and Ironman - knows his stuff about all of the above subjects. He was the first person to compete in an ironman from the Newry area, when he was 38. And he’s also the oldest man do complete that mighty feat at the age of 71. Tony is now 76 but he certainly doesn’t look it. He doesn’t do much running these days but he cycles or swims on a daily basis – not for the love of it mind you. "People confuse enjoyment with satisfaction," he says. When he’s not keeping fit, Tony can usually be found putting pen to paper, or keeping his many Facebook followers entertained with his amusing and informative stories – mostly about the many characters from the area that he’s come across over the years. Tony wears many hats. But the former welder, who took to writing in middle age and became Sports Editor of the Newry Democrat, is modest about his many achievements. He says he wasn’t a great musician or the best footballer, but he admits that he can write well. Of all of the things the popular man local legend is, Tony is first and foremost a story-teller and for this week’s Armagh I podcast, he tells us all about his upbringing in Linen Hall Square as a ‘Barackovian’. He talks about his bands, including the brilliantly named ‘Sons of Rest’ and their misadventures, including an ill-fated chance to appear on Hughie Green’s ‘Opportunity Knocks’, and how drummer Willie Reilly short-changed Newry menswear owner Kevin Russell who kitted the band out with the obligatory showband uniform. He tells us some of the stories in his book on Junior Football, including how referee Mousie Fitzpatrick was sent off by the other referee in the same game, Jim McCardle – it’s complicated! And how an insult in Newry is really an underhanded compliment!
Jul 15, 2021
Meet the Simpsons – TikTok sensations with over one million followers
If you ask most girls in their early teens who their favourite celebrities are, chances are there’ll be at least one TikToker on their list. If you stick your head in their bedroom door on any given evening, you’ll probably see them either watching or emulating some TikTok clip from one of the names on their list. And there’s a good chance one of the accounts they follow will belong to the Simpson family. If you want to see what the attraction is, go on the App and check out The Simpson family – so called lest they be confused with their famous namesakes. By day Zoe and Eva Simpson are just ordinary schoolgirls attending Sacred Heart Grammar School in Newry, but once they exit the school gates and go home, they take on a whole new persona. It’s at home where they set up the camera to entertain their almost 1.2 million followers on the most popular social media platform on the planet. It’s not that the girls are any different from all of the other teenagers who hang out in their bedrooms and make TikTok videos. Or that the Simpsons are any different from your average family. But on a platform that has countless creators screaming for attention, they seem to have found the secret to success. Mark, Ali and their children Zoe (14), Eva (13) and Ella (8) opened a family account on TikTok just seven months ago and despite being taken down by the social media platform’s ‘Bots’ twice, their popularity continued to skyrocket and the number of followers they have continues to grow. ‘Relatable content,’ is the trick says Mark, who freely admits that he saw a gap in the TikTok market with very few family creators, and decided to tap in at the right time from a business perspective. If anyone knows how to build a successful business , Mark and Ali do. The Mayobridge couple are Directors of the hugely successful SMS Platinum Group who own Air-tastic, Funky Monkeys and Captain Greens. Both are accountants and Mark says that it takes a lot of hard work and planning to make money from what from the outside looks like just a bit of fun. The Simpsons’ content is refreshingly charming - funny, silly videos and situations any parent or teenager can relate to. Each of the family members has a role to play. Eva is the actress, Zoe the editor, Mark and Ali do the analytical research and some content and Ella is in some of the videos with mum and dad -but mostly just looks adorable. Mark says it’s the girls who make it work and that himself and Ali stand behind them, making the occasional appearances in some of the videos. But there’s a practical reason for that too. The girls can’t have their own account and go live until they’re 16 and going live helps to boost your following. For this week’s podcast, Armagh I sat down with the Simpson family and they revealed the secrets behind their success. They spoke about how their TikTok journey began, how they discover the best content, how they learned what works and what doesn’t, what being a household name means for the girls at school and where it all goes from here.
Jul 8, 2021
Jolly Bearded Promotions' Seb Akehurst takes his toy story to infinity and beyond
Seb has created an exhibition, both clever and imaginative, but also at times seemingly at odds with the innocence of toys. Upstairs in the gallery, a darker space awaits, with toys represented in wartime scenarios with recreations of iconic photographs and movie scenes from black and white D-Day battle scenes, moving to colour with the Vietnam War and the Middle Eastern conflicts. In his final year at the University of Ulster in 2014 studying Interactive Media Arts, Seb focussed on War Photography. Frank Capa, Roger Fenton and Matthew Brady became major influences on his work – particularly how their photographs were used as propaganda tools.
Jul 1, 2021
Intergalactic craic with Heather and Courtney – the final frontier for Armagh Planetarium
Heather Alexander and Courtney Allison are Education Officers at the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium (AOP), and their knowledge and enthusiasm for the job is infectious. Imparting that knowledge and encouraging children to pursue a career in science and space exploration is part of their job, and it’s one that the pair are very good at. The AOP has been in existence since 1790 as an observatory before it expanded to become a planetarium in 1968. Heather explains the history behind its origins and the work that goes on at the AOP, which has had a complete upheaval during lockdown, with a brand new sensory room, a brand new theatre experience and an interactive exhibition – which is both Heather and Courtney’s favourite place to play. Heather is the history buff, keenly aware of the historical achievements in the AOP – not least the third director Thomas Romney Robinson who invented the Cup Anemometer in 1846 – a device that measures wind speeds which was used all over t…
Jun 24, 2021
Podcast: Armagh author Stuart Neville talks crime noir thrillers and gigging at Glasto!
Stuart Neville’s novels have come a long way from his native Armagh to bookshelves across the globe, but his stories remain very much rooted in home. His stellar career began with a manuscript at a John Connolly book reading in Dublin, handed to the established author by the aspiring crime writer, who had a publishing deal, but no readership as yet. That would soon change. “One of the finest thriller debuts of the last ten years,” Connolly wrote on the flyleaf of Neville’s finished product after it was published in 2009. ‘The Ghosts of Belfast’ was the original title. Perfect for an American audience. It became ‘The Twelve’ for the home crowd – something that doesn’t sit well with Stuart – but more on that anon. The plaudits continued, with the book winning the Los Angeles Times, Mystery/Thriller category Book Prize, and a host of other awards. It was named top crime novel of the year in the New York Times and the LA Times and received glowing reviews in num…
Jun 17, 2021
Re-Gen's Joseph Doherty on origins of the family business and re-imagining a greener planet
For this week’s podcast, Armagh I spoke to Joseph Doherty about the evolution of Re-Gen and the different components of the business. He speaks about ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ when it comes to the human aspect of recycling; what it’s like working closely with his family, and the expertise and drive within the entire team that makes for a successful business. He talks about new innovations in the pipeline and what’s next for Re-Gen.
Jun 10, 2021
Night at the museum with the Paravent crew…and 'friends'!
It’s probably fair to say that ghost hunting isn’t usually high on the agenda for most people on a Friday night. And I’d count myself amongst that number. Last weekend however - after declaring on our recent podcast with Sharon Moen, that I’d join Paravent for their next excursion - I put my money where my mouth was and headed down the motorway towards the Irish Military War Museum in Collon. There I met up with the Paravent crew – Sharon, Elaine, Eddie, Anthony, Fra and Harry, who were getting their ghost hunting equipment ready ahead of our night in the museum.
1 hr 14 min
Jun 2, 2021
London calling for Armagh man Niall McCart who made scooters his business
From going halfsies on his very first scooter to breathing new life into vintage models by developing electric conversion kits. The metropolis of London is far from Niall McCart's upbringing in Armagh but that is where he has called home for over 30 years. For this episode of Armagh I’s podcast, we caught up with Niall ,who could have been seen ‘raking about’ on scooters in his home city during the 80s and has now developed a kits which convert vintage Vespas and Lambrettas to electric. A self-confessed home-bird who flew the nest back in 1989 to work in construction, initially believing he would be out for a year or two and then return, however, 30 years on and Niall is still in the English capital. His love of scooters dates back to the mod culture of the 80s, although he commented that he would later consider himself a scooterist. Niall recalls his first ever scooter, which he part owned, this was mainly used to get too and from the Blackwatertown underage disco. "One we…
May 27, 2021
Erosion of hope and services leaves Armagh mum with autistic adult sons at wits' end
As lockdown restrictions lift, most of us have emerged from our homes to mingle, shop, eat out and enjoy the everyday freedoms of life. Not so for some however, as the past year has had a devastating effect on people with learning disabilities, whose services have been decimated. Kathryn Taylor never intended to be a spokesperson for such families, but the situation has become so difficult for her family, that she’s been left with little choice. While the rest of us are out and about, not much has changed for Kathryn, who is still walking the roads with her sons. Kathryn and her husband Tommy have four children - Sophie, Nathan, Levi and Sam. Nathan (25) and Levi (20) have autism with severe learning disabilities. It’s been a constant battle to obtain the help that they need over the years, and Kathryn says it’s getting worse rather than better – as Southern Trust services continue to shut down, with little thought for children moving to adult services. She believes the…
May 20, 2021
Long Meadow Cider blossoming with Amazon deal
They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and that’s certainly the case with Long Meadow Cider. The McKeever family has run their farm for over 50 years - spanning three generations. But innovation is key in any business and Pat, Catherine and their son Peter have been hugely successful at that, since diversifying to produce naturally crafted cider in 2014. Pat’s father, Peter, used traditional methods growing the Bramley apples that Long Meadow Cider still use for their products in the main, but over the years the family has introduced different apple varieties and methods of growing, as farming has evolved. While nobody could predict the pandemic, the McKeever family has adapted superbly. Restaurants and pubs are a huge part of their sales and when they shut down the business took a big hit. That forced Long Meadow Cider to move a lot of their sales online and they recently secured a massive shot in the arm with Amazon advertising their products. This opens the Por…
May 12, 2021
Oisín McConville on post-pandemic rise in gambling and Armagh GAA predictions
The pandemic as taken its toll on everyone in one way or another but some of the problems caused have yet to materialise. The statistics for gambling addiction are frightening, with a 60% increase since the pandemic began, and Oisín McConville says the lockdown has exasperated the issue and kept it hidden behind closed doors more than ever before. If anyone can give advice on problem gambling it’s the former Armagh County star. He doesn’t flinch when he talks about his own well-documented gambling addiction, which began at the tender age of 14, until he sought help 16 years ago when he was 30. And while he urges anyone with a problem to speak to someone, be it a friend, family member, or a professional, he stresses that he chose to speak out, but gamblers anonymous also works for a lot of people. Oisín says it’s not just an issue associated with men anymore – with the prevalence of mobile phones and every source of social media, making it easier than ever to gamble anywhe…
May 5, 2021
LGBTQ+ champion Councillor Pete Byrne on wearing a mask he was unable to take off for 10 years
Most of us have got used to wearing a mask over the past year, but imagine not being able to take it off for 10 years. That’s what Pete Byrne says his life felt like until he finally told just four people that he was gay – at the age of 24. Since then the well-known and highly-respected SDLP Crossmaglen Councillor has become a strong advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, including championing the annual Pride festival. He also married his husband Trevor in 2012, after struggling for years with worries and fears about acceptance in his small rural village. The pain of inequalities, injustices, and having to mask his sexuality, runs deep however, and Pete, who is quiet by nature, feels compelled to help others and try to prevent them from suffering as he has. His wounds have been opened many times throughout his life – most recently when having to debate the merits of banning conversion therapy in Northern Ireland. And when Pete spoke to Armagh I for this podcast he implored politicians…
Apr 28, 2021
Co Armagh's very own Paranormal Investigator of things that go bump in the night
I never imagined I’d be jumping at shadows following a trip to Keady in broad daylight, but a visit to Sharon Moen’s house left me slightly ruffled. Not that Sharon was anything but lovely company, but it was our conversation that made be glad I wasn’t driving home through the countryside in the dark Sharon is a Paranormal Investigator – or as some might say – Ghosthunter. She set up a group called Paravent who believe that the dead are very much in tune with the living, and the group actively seeks these spirits out - or indeed find it to be the other way around at times. Sharon says she has seen, heard and been visited by spirits since her adolescence, and she is out to prove to the world that they are all around us if we choose to believe in the signs. With other like-minded individuals, Sharon has been to some of the most haunted places in Ireland and they have certainly lived up to their reputations. Evidence of paranormal activity is crucial to her investigations ho…
Apr 19, 2021
Seán Treanor and bringing stories to life through Newpoint Players
For this week’s podcast we had a wide-ranging chat with Seán Treanor about his life, from his idyllic schooldays at the Abbey; channelling Donn Byrne through a strange coincidence; the plays he’s written, directed and acted in and people who he’s worked with; marking Martin O’Neill in a football match; his use of music in his work, from Gregorian chant to Philip Glass to Sean-nós, and much, much more including a poem about a childhood teacher Miss Sands.
Apr 11, 2021
People of the Year: Gary McCoo, Leeanne Gillespie and Philip Johnston
The inaugural Armagh I People of the Year awards celebrates extraordinary individuals for the extraordinary impact they’ve had on their communities over the past year. In the previous podcast we spoke to two of the five winners and for this episode, proudly sponsored by Blackhill Energy, Armagh I caught up with the other three winners – Gary McCoo, Leeanne Gillespie and Philip Johnston
Apr 6, 2021
Bernie O'Connor talks autism and daughter Jodie as Stephen Fields champions community
After a year like no other, positivity and selflessness has never held more meaning. The inaugural Armagh I People of the Year Awards epitomises just what community spirit is all about and the nominees and winners that you voted for are prime examples of that. In this and the next week's podcast, we speak to the winners in each of the five categories. For this episode, proudly sponsored by Blackhill Energy, Armagh I caught up with Bernie O’Connor, mother of Jodie O’Connor who won the Inspirational Young Talent Award. It’s been a challenging year for Jodie who has autism, with the closure of the community facility her mother set up three years ago, due to Covid-19, and also familiar places such as the library and leisure centre where Jodie frequented. Rather than sit it out however, Jodie took the first step that led her on a path that will no doubt continue long after the lockdown ends. She took up walking and gradually challenged herself more and more, resulting in walking…
Mar 22, 2021
Quitting smoking and healthy eating tips from the Southern Trust team
It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since Covid 19 stopped the world in its tracks and changed life as we knew it. While we’ve all struggled - to varying degrees - there is support out there in terms of looking after our health. For the next two episodes of Armagh I’s podcast, proudly sponsored by Blackhill Energy, we speak to some of those who are here to help from the Southern Health and Social Care Trust. The Southern Health and Social Care Trust provides health and social care services across the five council areas of Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon, Dungannon and Newry and Mourne. This week Armagh I chatted with Valerie Gough and Colette O’Brien, who shared a number of tips, strategies and advice in the areas of smoking cessation and diet and nutrition.
Mar 14, 2021
Armagh's Stephen Darragh takes us behind scenes of Bloodlands, Line of Duty and more..
Bloodlands broke BBC viewership records in Northern Ireland after the first episode aired recently - with over 300,000 tuning in to the gritty crime drama. But while James Nesbitt and Charlene McKenna kept us all on the edge of our seats, the magic on the screen was seen from a completely different angle by those on set. For this week’s podcast, proudly sponsored by Blackhill Energy, we spoke to Armagh’s own Stephen Darragh who is one of those who knows just how much effort and money goes into a production like this – being one of the people heavily involved. Stephen was the Second Assistant Director on Bloodlands, and that’s just a drop in the ocean when it comes to the tv shows and films that he has worked on since joining the industry in 2006.
1 hr 4 min
Mar 7, 2021
Sinead O'Sullivan – Armagh's very own rocket woman who reached for the stars at NASA
Many from a young age have a fascination with space but very few would see this as a viable career path....well it is rocket science after all! So it may surprise you that one of Armagh's very own has had a hand in NASA's designs for human spaceflight missions to Mars. Sinead O’Sullivan might have spent her very really early years in Johannesburg, South Africa, but it is in Armagh that she developed her love for science. Whilst at the Southern Regional College – or tech as she knew it – in the city, a 16-year-old Sinead got the opportunity to travel to NASA’s Johnson Space Center as part of a space camp. Ever since then, it was her goal to make it back to mission control - and she did but it was not easy! Sinead did complete a Bachelors of Aerospace Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast but soon found that jobs in the space exploration industry were hard to come by. She even recalls at one point being rejected for a job designing rockets and another making sandwiche…
Feb 28, 2021
The world from a different perspective: Aviator Raphael O’Carroll on loss of daughter and incredible flying feat
Looking at the world from a different perspective is something Raphael O’Carroll believes everyone should do at least once in a lifetime. That perspective is from the sky, where Raphael and his fellow aviator Liam Lynch, have spent quite a bit of time throughout theirs. Raphael is the owner and chief flying instructor at his flight school, Kernan Aviation in Tandragee. The pair have been breaking records in the skies with a series of challenges for a very worthy cause. In 2013 Raphael’s daughter Christine was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Tragically, she passed away three and a half years later, but over Easter in 2015, her father got to spend five days he will never forget – flying around Ireland with Christine. They set out to land in as many of the 198 airfields dotted around the country as they could. All the wile raising awareness and donations, the Christine O’Carroll Research Fund, as well as Marie Cure and the Irish Cancer society. After Christine passed away, Rap…
Feb 21, 2021
Paddy and Philippa McShane the complete package with successful business
Nerves of steel, unwavering self-belief, knowing your product and having good people around you, are the base ingredients for growing a successful business according to a couple who know exactly what they’re talking about. Twenty-five years ago this month, Paddy McShane borrowed £3,500 from Armagh Credit Union, bought a second hand van, rented a small unit in Dungannon Business Centre and started to build what today is the hugely successful McShane Packaging company. Paddy had a background in sales. His wife Philippa says, ‘he could sell snow to the Eskimos.’ She was working in Belfast in the early years but joined Paddy after the birth of their second child and with her business acumen, a perfect partnership was born.
Feb 14, 2021
Hidden histories captured on camera by Newry Man Lost, Sean Donegan
In his everyday life Sean Donegan is a commercial photographer with a studio in Newry, but his alter ego, Newry Man Lost, is increasingly is becoming the main focus of his attention. It started as a hobby around eight years ago, when Sean, who is also an historian, set up a Facebook page and began a journey that would soon grow legs. His interest in local history led Sean to seeking out the secret stories behind old buildings and ruins dotted around his hometown and far beyond. As an urban explorer, Sean has had adventures in Sweden, where he photographed an abandoned car graveyard – leading to a close call in a nearby booby trapped house. Belgium, at a chocolate-box castle – slipping past a supposed gun-toting sentry. And a horrific visit to Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, that haunts him to this day. Closer to home Sean has had some hairy moments – hilarious in hindsight - involving mad cows and mutilated birds in Cork. Dodging traffic on the Mary McAleese Bridge…
Feb 6, 2021
Armagh suppliers surviving and thrive amidst restrictions caused by Brexit backlog
On January 1, 2021, the NI protocol was introduced, placing a border in the middle of the Irish Sea, and causing a lot of hassle for local businesses. But could opportunities be found amidst the onerous restrictions? For this episode of Armagh I’s Podcast, proudly sponsored by Blackhill Energy, we talk to a number of local business owners affected by the change in trading conditions between NI and GB.
Jan 31, 2021
Gunmen in the Northern Bar to drinking with Bono – a rock 'n' roll life with Martin Rafferty
From nicking Oasis B side songs and claiming them as his own at the ‘Wonderwall’ in Ardmore, to a nasty encounter with some gunmen while gigging at the Northern Bar, Marty’s career had an adventurous edge from the start. With success came festivals and tours, initially with his band Ignition, and now as a solo artist along with his current band members, Conor Cunningham, Dave Mulgrave and Jordie Kelly. Playing to 10,000 people ahead of Feeder, at the Lee Stock Festival was a highlight, as was drinking beer with Bono and the Edge. But there isn’t much that could top a day where Marty and his crew ran into Jimmy Paige in a Burger King while on the way to meeting his hero Noel Gallagher at his London home. Marty even picked up the guitar and threw in a few bars during our chat, with a very familiar signature tune.
Jan 24, 2021
Armagh GP Dr Frances O’Hagan on Covid, vaccine and toughest challenge of her career
Finally, there really is some light at the end of this bleak, year-long tunnel. The Covid -19 vaccines are here and the rollout is underway. The over-80’s were the first recipients of the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine, and they made their feelings on any controversy surrounding the vaccine known, by voting with their feet. There was an unprecedented 100 percent turnout at Dr Francis O’Hagan’s Friary surgery in Armagh, and she says there was a joyous and celebratory atmosphere amongst her patients and a sense of freedom returned. For this episode of Armagh I’s podcast, proudly sponsored by Blackhill Energy, we spoke to Dr O’Hagan about the pressures of the past year, which have never been worse than they are right now for frontline staff.
Jan 16, 2021
New Year tragedy for Lough Neagh Rescue crew but volunteers responsible for saving so many lives
Just a couple of weeks ago, at the start of the New Year, Lough Neagh Rescue, along with the RNLI and other rescue organisations, recovered the body of missing person who was believed to be in a boating accident in Fermanagh. Situations like this are of course devastating for the team, but Lough Neagh Rescue chairman Sean Rocks sees some positivity and a sense of achievement through bringing the body back to the family and giving them some semblance of closure.
Jan 10, 2021
Tales, anecdotes and madcap misadventures with Damian McCullough
He is known throughout the county and far beyond as the voice of Armagh GAA. His catch phrases are as unique and individual as his broadcasting style. We're all familiar with, 'Mary from Killeavy,' the magnetic pull of the hill,' and - of course - 'The Holy Mary Mother of God score.' When you hear, 'We're coming to you from the ecclesiastical capital,' over the radio or on Armagh TV, you know Damian McCullough is on the mic. He has taken advice from Rowan Hand, who told him to refrain from overuse of the word 'ball' while commentating on Gaelic games - which contributed greatly to his style. He's given the great Micheal O Muircheartaigh a hand with information at a game - and the legendary broadcaster never forgot. He blagged a half-time sausage bap from a woman in the stands with a frying pan at an Armagh game, and was battered over the back of the head by a Crossmaglen woman in the Buttercrane, for over-exaggerating the closeness of a game - Cross were in no danger of losing.…
Dec 31, 2020
Jemar Hall talks football, family, racism and new ventures
It was a year like no other, but with 2020 behind us, we can only look forward to a bright tomorrow and for Armagh GAA that also holds true. Jemar Hall is one of the Orchard County’s finest players. He is a breath of fresh air on and off the field, and also one of three county players who helped their club Forkhill to the Junior Championship title. Jemar is a proud Forkhill native, but his athleticism comes in part from his American father Sherman, who was a basketball and NFL player, before taking up basketball and GAA coaching after moving here with his Armagh wife, who he met in the States. Jemar is known for his speed, skill and bravery whether playing for club or county and while that in itself is more than enough, he is also a popular team member and is polite and charming company. It’s hard to imagine that he would have to endure racism, but Jemar has experienced it at times throughout his playing career, and he is frank and honest in his assessment of why it exists and…
Dec 26, 2020
Pat Jennings on growing up in Newry, pals with George Best and the 'worst day of my life in football'
He is hailed as one of the greatest goalkeepers the world has ever seen. He has an incredible 119 caps for Northern Ireland, including featuring in two World Cups. He has played over 1000 games in his footballing career - which ended on his 41 st birthday, in what couldn’t have been a more fitting manner – against the country that popularised the phrase ‘the Beautiful Game’ – Brazil - in the 1986 World Cup Finals in Mexico. He won the FA Cup with his club Tottenham Hotspur, along with league titles and a UEFA Cup, before having similar success when he moved to rival London club Arsenal, after 13 years with Spurs. Yet both sets of fans adored him.
Dec 14, 2020
Steven Beacom tells weird and wonderful stories of Ulster’s greatest sporting legends
Did you know we have an Olympic Bobsleigh gold medalist from Ulster? His name is Robin Dixon – first cousin of the infamous Lord Lucan who introduced him to the sport. Did you know we have a blind multiple World Champion water-skier named Janet Gray, who has overcome the most challenging difficulties imaginable to excel at her sport? We all know ‘Yer Maun,’ multiple World Champion Motorcyclist – King of the Roads - Joey Dunlop, who is, “more popular in Northern Ireland than an Ulster Fry.” But did you know that he almost died, along with his brother Robert, when the fishing boat carrying some riders and their bikes sank on the way to an Isle of Man TT race? These are just a few of the tales of our sporting heroes, in Steven Beacom’s book, ‘100 Ulster Sporting Legends.’ For this week’s The I on the Ball, proudly sponsored by Blackhill Energy, we spoke to Steven about his new book and some of the wonderful and uplifting people, stories and anecdotes in its pages.
Dec 7, 2020
Carragher fighting fit for Tokyo Olympics and Armagh crowned All-Ireland champions
It may have been delayed for a year but plans for the Tokyo Olympics to take place in 2021 are full steam ahead and on board will be one of Irelands finest physiotherapists. When it comes to keeping elite athletes in tip-top shape, Paul Carragher is the man you want in your corner. So feels the Olympic Federation of Ireland as he was selected as one of the physiotherapists for Team Ireland when they go for gold at the Tokyo Olympics. The Newtownhamilton physiotherapist has worked with some of the best athletes on the island of Ireland from football, athletics, cycling, boxing, rugby, volleyball, gymnastics, and everything in-between. Plus, it was also a joyful weekend for Armagh Camogie with a 0-19 to 3-7 victory over Cavan in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Junior Championship Final in Kingspan Breffni Park on Saturday. We caught up with sisters Ciara and Leanne Donnelly for their reaction after the game.
Nov 30, 2020
The need for speed as Adam Hylands chases the World Title
It’s a well-loved sport in Northern Ireland - particularly in places where the tracks are situated -, and one such home for Hot Rod racing is the Tullyroan Oval, where one of the best drivers in the country, Adam Hylands, honed his skills. Oval racing has a rich history in Armagh, where the Portadown Oval had a big following before it was built over by Shamrock Park. The love of oval racing in the Armagh region was sown however, and it was reignited in the area when Tullyroan Oval was built in 2011. For this episode of The I on the Ball, proudly sponsored by Blackhill Energy, we spoke to Adam about his hugely successful racing career.
Nov 23, 2020
Padraig Mallon swims through the oceans of the mind
“What water does for peoples mental health and physical health is second to none in my eyes,” says Padraig Mallon - and this is one adventurer who is well qualified to make a statement like that. The Infinity Crew member and owner of the swimming pool in Bessbrook of the same name, has travelled the world in search of the coldest waters, highest heights and the most difficult endurance challenges known to man.
Nov 16, 2020
Annagh Utd in but Armagh City out of Irish Cup plus reaction from GAA championships
It’s been a weekend of huge highs and desperate lows on the GAA front and likewise on the football scene. Last week the IFA decided that – given the fixture delays due to Covid-19 - the 2020/21 Irish Cup will only feature 32 teams – those being the 24 Premiership and Championship clubs, along with the 2019/20 Intermediate Cup semi-finalists and the next four teams in the league pyramid. That decision sees current Premier Intermediate Champions Annagh United FC in – while they still await their first league match since promotion to the Championship – and Armagh City FC left out in the cold, along with almost 100 other unlucky clubs. We also have the reaction from Kieran McGeeney to Armagh's loss while Sinead Reel speaks of her delight as Armagh book as semi-final spot against reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin.
Nov 10, 2020
How Armagh TV became a beacon of hope during trying times
You have to start somewhere, as the saying goes – and for Linwoods Armagh TV, that was back in 2011 at the Armagh County Final following on from a casual conversation a year earlier. Paul Heaney had dabbled in the idea of live streaming games and vaguely agreed to try it out for Armagh County Board in passing in 2010...
Nov 2, 2020
Armagh ladies ready to break new ground while men enjoy Ulster victory over Derry
Armagh Senior Ladies enjoyed a 6-16 to 3-13 victory over Tyrone in the group stages of this year’s truncated TG4 All-Ireland Championship in Breffni Park on Friday but the even bigger news for Armagh ladies is their vision for the future, as work continues on McKeever Park in Killean, where the only training facility on the island of Ireland dedicated to the ladies game is being built. We also spoke to Armagh Senior player Aidan Forker and coach Jim McCorry after the Orchard men beat Derry 0-17 to 0-15 at Celtic Park in the Ulster SFC quarter-final on Sunday afternoon.
Oct 26, 2020
O’Hanlon honoured at IFA Awards and McGeeney looks forward to life in Division One
John O’Hanlon has been a well-known name in footballing circles for many years – 25 of those with Windmill Stars FC - both at youth and senior managerial level as well as on the field. His work has not gone unnoticed by his club, nor by the IFA, who recently named him the regional McDonalds IFA Grassroots Volunteer of the Year, at their awards ceremony in Windsor Park. We also hear from Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney, after the Orchard County beat Clare in the final Allianz League fixture of the 2020 season, to win promotion to Division 1 for the first time since 2012.
Oct 19, 2020
Armagh GAA's Hugh Campbell and Armagh City Chairman Aidan Murphy
It was a disappointing defeat for Armagh on Saturday but while it could have been even more bleak, as there were no supporters allowed – there was a feeling of hope and optimism at the Athletic Grounds. Every sound echoed around the empty stadium with only essential staff and media present and socially distanced. The air was chilly, but the seats were warmed by over 3,000 Armagh school children’s smiling faces. Those faces took the form of self-portraits by primary school children throughout Armagh, in support of their team, their county and most of all as a message of hope for everyone watching on the national airwaves. The initiative was instigated by Armagh Performance Coach Hugh Campbell and for this episode of The I on the Ball, proudly sponsored by Blackhill Energy, we spoke to Hugh about the idea behind the campaign, how it came about and the message it sends. It’s also been tough times for Armagh City Football Club’s supporters and players. We caught up with Armagh…
Oct 12, 2020
Father and Daughter refereeing duo Gerry and Lauren Murray
It’s not that unusual to hear of a son following in his father’s footsteps, in picking up a referee’s whistle, but Gerry Murray and his daughter Lauren are trailblazers in that regard. They are the only father-daughter referees in any code in the country and hopefully they will be trendsetters too. We also caught up with the managers of two teams we spoke to before the Mid-Ulster Football League began. Division 3 table-toppers Bessbrook United hosted Mindwell FC, at Orior Park a few weeks ago and they drew 2-2.
Oct 5, 2020
Thornton and McGrane put golf’s – and Co Armagh's – hidden gem on the map
The Ring of Gullion is officially one of Ireland’s areas of outstanding natural beauty but not too many know about a hidden gem at its heart – until recently that is. Cloverhill Golf Club is a spectacularly beautiful 18-hole course in Mullaghbawn, accessed by a number of routes via either Camlough or Forkhill. Either way, navigating the twists and turns of the narrow roads, requires a map - but it’s well worth finding.
Sep 29, 2020
New City of Armagh head coach Chris Parker plus reaction from final weekend of GAA club action
For this week’s The I on the Ball, proudly sponsored by Blackhill Energy, we spoke to City of Armagh’s new head coach Chris Parker who can’t wait to get going again. It was also the last week of GAA Club Championship action, with wins for Forkhilll in the Junior Football Championship final replay, Craobh Rua in the Junior Hurling Championship final, with Middletown’s Senior Hurling Championship final victory, ending the competitions on Sunday.
Sep 21, 2020
The Mighty Quinn packs a punch and reaction from JFC and IFC Championship finals
Fearghus Quinn was due to make his professional boxing debut in April but when Covid-19 hit, his big day was put on hold. The Belleek fighter got his chance a few weeks ago however, and he took it with both fists, beating a tough opponent Robbie ‘the Camden Caretaker’ Chapman in six rounds. The I on the Ball also spoke to a very relieved Belleeks manager, Gareth Thornton, after the final whistle in their JFC final win over Forkhill – where Quinn played a part too. On Sunday Clan na Gael had a big win in the Intermediate Championship final over fellow Lurgan side St Paul’s. We spoke to Clans captain Ronan Austin after the game.
Sep 14, 2020
Mind over matter for FC Mindwell and family affairs for victorious Maghery and Armagh Harps Ladies
FC Mindwell is a football club who are all about community spirit. They consist, for the most part, of a group of ex-footballers – many of whom are household names - who have come together with a strong ethos of supporting mental health, to ply their trade in Division 3 of the Mid-Ulster Football League. Keith Gillespie, and most recently Roy Carroll are just two of the big names who play for Mindwell but the club is about far more than football as former Irish League and Stoke player Matty Hazley tells us in this week’s episode of The I on the Ball proudly sponsored by Blackhill Energy. We also have reaction from the Men and Women's Senior Championship Finals over the weekend.
Sep 7, 2020
Justin McNulty on football, family and career & Stefan Campbell helps Clans into final
For this week's ‘The I on the Ball’ podcast, proudly sponsored by Blackhill Energy, one of the heroes of that day, Justin McNulty, takes us back to that moment in time in 2002, and describes his preparations for the momentous day. Justin also has high hopes for Kieran McGeeney’s current squad when inter-county football resumes. The current MLA also speaks about his family, his career, and how he doesn’t think the season will be disrupted again by Covid-19. We also catch up with Clan na Gael's Stefan Campbell as the Lurgan side booked their place in the Intermediate Championship Final, plus Belleek manager Gareth Thornton after they cruised into the Junior Championship final.
Aug 31, 2020
Richard Bullick: The man in the know and Cross' captain James Morgan
If there’s a person that has more knowledge on female sport in Armagh or indeed other so-called minority sports than Richard Bullick, I’ve yet to find them. We also spoke to an utterly exhausted Crossmaglen Rangers senior football captain James Morgan, after his side made it past Killeavy by two points at the Athletic Grounds. The current champions will be going for an epic 46th title when they take on Maghery who saw off Pearse Og in the other semi.
Aug 25, 2020
Magic Mackin back with a bang and Windmill Stars' Fitzpatrick on new season
In this week’s 'The I on the Ball' podcast – proudly sponsored by Blackhill Energy - Aimee Mackin talks about her joy at returning to the sport she loves - “There’s nothing better than putting your club jersey back on.” Also, we also spoke to Windmill Stars FC’s new manager Raymie Fitzpatrick ahead of the Mid-Ulster Football League opener last Saturday.
Aug 17, 2020
Throwing bullets with Chris and Kelly Mallon as Cross' boss laments treatment of O'Neill brothers
For this week’s The I on the Ball podcast, proudly sponsored by Blackhill Energy, we spoke to Armagh Road Bowling Association Chairman Chris Mallon, whose daughter Kelly – Armagh captain, Armagh Harps star and Madden Camogie captain – is the most decorated female Road Bowler in Ireland, with eight championship titles under her belt. We also caught up with Kelly a few days later and spoke with Crossmaglen manager Stephen Kernan who, despite a comprehensive championship victory over Mullaghbawn, lamented the treatment of O'Neill brothers – Oisin and Rian.
Aug 10, 2020
Corrinshego’s field of dreams & Armagh GAA championship review
Corrinshigo are a small club, up the mountain on the outskirts of Newry but they have big plans which are plain to see if you just take the short drive up Barcroft hill. David O’Brien is a busy man, as Chairman of what is the oldest club in Newry and the only Armagh Club in the city. He is also involved in Craobh Rua Hurling Club and the Armagh County hurlers. But, David still finds the time to oversee the grass cutting at Corrinshego’s new pitch which was Phase 1 of a huge development project.
Aug 3, 2020
Crooked Lake's Catherine Murphy and Armagh CC’s stat man – Brian Weir
For only the second time in its 17-year history, the hugely popular Crooked Lake Triathlon was cancelled this year due to the pandemic. We spoke to the event’s main organiser Catherine Murphy. Our second guest is Armagh Cricket Club’s stats man – Brian Weir, who knows everything there is to know about Armagh cricket. He literally wrote the book on it to celebrate their 150-year anniversary back in 2009 - “Armagh Cricket Club 150 Years Not Out.”
Jul 27, 2020
MUFL Chairman Sean O'Neill and Dromintee's John Kennedy
“It’s a hot topic,” said Mid-Ulster League Chairman Sean O’Neill recently when he spoke to Armagh I for our latest sports podcast, The I on the Ball. Sean was referring to the handling of suspensions after the Covid-19 cancellation of the NIFL, and his premonitions that there would be headaches ahead, have come to pass. We also spoke with Dromintee manager John Kennedy following their win over Armagh Harps. He also gave his thoughts on Killeavy and their Covid situation.
Jul 20, 2020
Aidan Forker and Ronan Clarke on first game of delayed GAA season
We speak to Maghery and Armagh's Aidan Forker after his side defeated Crossmaglen in the opening game of the league on Sunday, while Silverbridge manager Ronan Clarke discusses his side's emphatic win over south Armagh rivals Mullaghbawn on Friday night.
Jul 13, 2020
Jamie Smith on gambling addiction and how he tried to end his life
Portadown man Jamie Smith's candid story of gambling addiction that began when he was just 16-years old and almost destroyed him.
Jul 7, 2020
Moving on up: Bessbrook United make the switch from Carnbane to Mid-Ulster League
We speak with Bessbrook United managers on Tommy Mooney and Ben Treanor on their side's move from the Carnbane League to the Mid-Ulster Football League as well as their now infamous 2018/19 Junior Cup run to the final they never got to play and what's in store for this season's competition, with the coronavirus preventing that mouth-watering quarter-final clash with Enniskillen Rangers...