Friday, 20 March 2015


I've known a young lad, Luke McLaughlin, for a couple of years now. Based in the small village of Muff, Co. Donegal, this young lad fronts the London based band, The Turning. Muff is a far cry from the paved musical streets of London! Luke has played a number of solo gigs in the local village bar, The Squealing Pig and introduced the locals to his amazing vocals. But this is a far cry from his energetic, passionate singing with The Turning.
The band includes: Luke McLaughlin - Vocals/Guitar
David Bardon - Lead Guitar 
Louis Gilbert - Bass
Ruben Kenton-Harris - Drums
On Monday night last Luke played a small intimate gig in the said pub, The Squealing Pig, and he showcased his vocal talents to our wee community. Folk have persistently talked about it since!
I was very privileged when Luke gave me a copy of the bands current EP, SETTLE FOR THAT, on Monday night. I put it in my car CD player on Tuesday morning, and I do believe it will remain there for some time to come. What I was introduced to that morning was a taste of contemporary punk at its very best. As an avid rock fan (from the 80's) I'm not usually impressed with the modern day punk styles but this takes it to a different level I witnessed the best rock music influenced by some outstanding geniuses with a very contemporary 21st century twist....there's a hint of Oasis; the Beatles; The Who; The Smiths and even the legendary The Doors...and so many more. These lads are in their teens...they shouldn't even know these acts. And yet they're putting a modern twist to classic punk/rock. 
The SETTLE FOR THAT ep consists of 5 tracks. Four are written by David Bardon (lead guitar) and the fifth (track 4, You Think You're Better) is written by Luke McLaughlin (vocals/guitar). All five tracks are original, authentic and yet, on one listening you are hooked. There's something oddly familiar about these tracks....and yet they're comparable to nothing...this really is originality at its best. This is new contemporary punk of the highest calibre. 
The boys have a style of the sixties. They even have a look of the sixties. But the music is very much of the 21st century with a kick back to the sixties. Boy bands come and go...but this is a little more than just a boy band. This is a mix of so much more. This is the future of punk/rock. These kids are teenagers. And yet they are impressing the young and old (well as a 45 year old I'm not really old!!! Am I?) When my 17 year old son said to me yesterday, 'Mum, you have me hooked on 'The Turning' I was taken aback. It made me realise that I have not only discovered a modern punk for my era, I've discovered a modern punk for today's teenage kids. 
The Turning have gigged all over the UK, Europe and Ireland. Just last year they supported The Strypes. They hope to tour Japan, The US and more during 2015. If you happen to be near a venue that they're playing, be sure and pop along. You really won't be disappointed. These lads are just setting out on what promises to be a long, enjoyable journey. I for one, am looking forward to the trip. It's gona be a good one. If it's one band you look out for over the coming months and years, make it these guys, The Turning :)
Check out their web page for upcoming gigs at The Turning gigs
THE TURNING - SETTLE FOR THAT, EP is available to download from itunes, spotify and sound cloud...just check it really won't be disappointed!
For a little taste of the lads, have a listen at:
Settle for that (The Turning)
Stand Clear Of My Mind
You Think You're Better, The Turning

Thursday, 19 March 2015

MAKE ME UP by Nicola

MakeMeUp By Nicola is a new brand of Professional and affordable MakeUp Brushes. 

Brushes are made from High grade natural goat hairs and synthetic fibres.
Nicola is a freelance Makeup Artist based in Donegal as a mobile service travelling all over Ireland to accommodate Bridal parties.
For enquires or appointments with Nicola please contact her via Facebook.

 Make Me Up By Nicola

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

St. Patrick's Day

Today  1,000's of people worldwide will take to the streets of their town, city, or village to celebrate the Patron Saint of Ireland. This annual celebration sees buildings, food, drinks and people turn 'green' for the day. Everyone wants to be Irish on March 17th.
I feel very fortunate to be Irish on this day as on every other day. 
However, today will see numerous people drown their shamrocks. It's normal to get over intoxicated, fall on your ass and saunter home at some stage of the night. And it's also normal to find a number of under age kids drinking, getting sick, and making a complete fool of themselves. Such is the level of drinking alcohol that is now within our society.
I'm prone to a large glass of vino, or two,  a few pints of Guinness, on many occasions. But St. Patrick's Day is the one day I refrain from such. It's a day I reminisce to my childhood and remember how I spent this day all those years ago. 
As a child growing up in the 70's, my older sister, myself and our aunt would make the annual pilgrimage to our local St. Patrick's Well. Weather didn't interfere with our 3 mile walk. After mass on St. Patrick's Day morning, our aunt would collect us at our home and off we would set. We wouldn't be home until late evening or early night.
The walk would consist of us 3 chatting and eating sweets. My sister and I would be 'off' sweets for the six weeks of Lent but would be allowed to eat them on this day. On arrival at St. Patrick's well, we would kneel and say some prayers. We'd leave something behind, be it money, or a token of some sort, each year. The following year we would check to see if it was still there.
On leaving the well, we would then proceed to visiting almost every house en route back. Our aunt had many friends along this route and they all expected the annual visit on St. Patrick's Day. In each house my sister and I would get treats. We felt like royalty. The day always came to an end too quickly.
So for me St. Patrick's Day is about family, about togetherness and about celebrating who we all are. I don't need to drown a shamrock to celebrate being me. I don't need to get drunk to know I'm Irish and proud of it. So before today is out, I shall visit that same aunt and I will go to the local St. Patrick's well, just out of habit. I can go to the pub next weekend. It isn't going anywhere. Some things are just a tad more important.
Happy St. Patrick's Day one and all. Enjoy wherever you might be.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Guildhall Press Writers' Festival, BE INSPIRED

(1) Novel (2) Poetry & Prose (3) Drama (4) Writing for Children
(1) Want to Write a Novel? Get Cracking! Keep Going! with Dave Duggan (writer)
Venue: Rath Mor Centre, Creggan 10am –11:30am
Dramatist and novelist Dave Duggan will work with people who want to begin a novel. He will share his own experiences and lead practical writing exercises in an active workshop open to all. At the end of the session, you'll have started your novel. Bring your imagination, a notebook and a pen and we'll get cracking.
Dave Duggan lives in Derry where he works as a dramatist and novelist. His theatre work has been seen across Ireland and in New York, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Afghanistan. His film work includes writing the Oscar nominated Dance Lexie Dance (Raw Nerve Productions, 1996). He has written radio drama for BBC Radio 4 and RTÉ. His new play DENIZEN (Creggan Enterprises Limited, 2015) premiers in March. Novels include The Greening of Larry Mahon (2004) and A Sudden Sun (2012) published by Guildhall Press.
(2) Wonderful World of Worders – Creative Writing with Jenni Doherty
Venue: Rath Mor Centre, Creggan 10am – 11:30am
A workshop based on various themes, subjects and styles of writing using the discipline of stimulating the imagination by using titles to create 60 or 100 word micro-stories, collectively called ‘worders’. Subject matter can vary from contemporary modern day issues to historical, from fiction to biographical, poetic prose to philosophy, science fiction to romance, humour to surrealism – whatever the titles inspire. From these ‘worder’ nuggets, a complete short story, poem or an idea for a novel can be developed at a later stage. The workshop will present a range of concepts, ideas and images that will leave you wondering, thinking and inspired to write. Part of the workshop will include a complimentary copy of the Guildhall Press publication Wonderful World of Worders.
Jenni Doherty's background ranges from publishing, journalism, bookselling and the public library service to facilitating creative writing workshops, organising and hosting literary events and performing. Editor and contributor to various Guildhall Press publications with her debut collection Rain Spill published in 2012. Recipient of two ACNI SIAP Awards and Winner of the Inaugural Noelle Vial Tyrone Guthrie Bursary Award 2013.
(3) Page to Stage Workshop with Felicity Mccall
Venue: Rath Mor Centre, Creggan 10am – 11:30am
A taster session of the well established Page to Stage Workshops offers an ideal opportunity for any aspiring playwrights to take the first steps towards seeing their work performed on stage. Whether you've got an idea for a play, a story to tell on stage, or a script in progress, this workshop with award-winning playwright and author Felicity McCall will cover everything from writing for the stage, developing characters, dialogue, structure, and practical advice on the way forward. Participants should bring six copies of up to six pages of their work but everyone's welcome to share their enthusiasm for the world of drama.
A career journalist, Felicity McCall worked for BBC news and current affairs for twenty years before going freelance. An award-winning writer, her work includes some twenty publications in fiction, young adult fiction and non-fiction, twelve plays for the professional stage, and four screenplay credits. She has published five books with Guildhall Press: Reckoning (2006); Agnes Jones (2006); Finding Lauren (2007); A Pitying of Doves (2011) and The Pigeon Men (2014). An occasional broadcaster, arts facilitator and actor, much of her work is community based in the role of artist/activist. Felicity serves on the Irish Executive of the National Union of Journalists.
(4) Writing For Children Workshop with MARILYN MCLAUGHLIN
Venue: Gasyard Centre, Lecky Road 11am – 12:30pm
Interested in writing for children? Would you like to spend some time exploring this hugely diverse and creative field? We’ll think about the different sorts of books that can be produced: picture books, interactive books, graphic books, hand made books. We’ll focus on particular audiences, on writing material suitable for early readers, for adolescents, teenagers, young adults; also, and importantly, on your own enjoyment of words and imagery, and on the magic of language and story-making. We’ll also discuss issues around revising work, polishing it to be the very best you can make it. You’re welcome to bring along a short (very short) extract of any work you may have in progress, but only if you want. We’ll have time for some fun writing exercises as well. There is an interesting opportunity to write short pieces for some scroll making in later arts and crafts workshops. Inspiration lies all around us. We just need to look with a child’s eyes, understand as a child understands, wish as a child wishes. And that opens up a magical world. All things are possible. What happens if...? What happens next...? Then what...? And will we all get home before dark...?
Marilyn McLaughlin has a wide experience and interest in the practice of the arts. Since returning from studying English and German in Dublin and Germany, she has been involved in amateur drama (acting, production, costume and set design) and has worked as an illustrator, editor, mentor and creative writing teacher. Her books include A Dream Awoke Me and Other Stories (Blackstaff Press, 1999), and the Fierce Milly series for children. Winner of the Brian Moore Short Story Prize in 1999 and a Bisto Award and the Eilis Dillon Award in 2000.
Booking is ESSENTIAL for all writing workshops at the Guildhall PressINSPIRED Festival. Places are limited to ten participants per workshop. Booking is by email only direct to
Please put 'Inspired Workshops' in the subject bar and specify which of the four workshops you would like to participate in:
(1) Novel (2) Poetry & Prose (3) Drama (4) Writing for Children
Include your name, email address and a contact number. All workshops are free and preference will be given to new participants. Over 18 years of age only.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

The Strypes at McGrory's!

I was very fortunate to catch the four Cavan lads, aka The Strypes last Saturday night at McGrory's Culdaff. This backroom has hosted many an up and coming band and last weekend was no exception. Already well established, these lads have headlined many a stage in recent years. And I was pretty impressed with what I saw last Saturday.

Ross Farrelly - Lead Vocals/Harmonica, Josh McClorey - Lead Guitar/Vocals, Pete O'Hanlon - Bass Guitar/Harmonica and Evan Walsh - Drums/Drums came across to me as a combination of 'the Undertones meet the Rolling Stones'. This was punk/rock 'n roll 2015. And these guys are still kids! Kids in the age sense of the word, but a far world from kids when it comes to performing on stage. I found each of them individually talented in their own right. Their ability to switch instruments mid song and drop not a note was pretty cool, even to an old doll like myself. I did think that my 17 year old son should be here and not me! But I'm pretty grateful that it was I in the Backroom that night!
The set was fast, it was furious, exciting and it was electric. 
The Strypes had the Backroom on its feet throughout. There were young and old enjoying the music being pumped from that stage. I was intrigued with the over 40's that were clearly rocking with the young 'uns. There was some genuinely energetic moments in this set and it's clear these lads love playing together. These guys can clearly get a crowd moving and keep them so. Will they be around to leave a legacy....time will tell. Something tells me they just might. 
If their performance at McGrory's is anything to go by, this young punk/rock band will be headlining every festival very soon. 

McGrory's Culdaff

Last weekend myself and 3 girlfriends decided to take a night away. As it was only one night we didn't want to spend a full day travelling so we decided to take a wee trip to Culdaff. We did reserve the two rooms a few weeks in advance, so it was off to McGrory's for 24 hours. None of us had stayed there before...well actually I lie; one of the ladies did spend her 40th birthday there a few short years ago!
On arrival at McGrory's we received a very warm welcome and given our room keys. The two rooms were nearby so it was rather convenient for coffee and wine! Both rooms were more than sufficient, clean and extremely comfy. We didn't even have to share a bed...phew...sorry ladies!
Having taken an afternoon dander around the village of Culdaff (and popping into the local pubs - just for a peep; maybe a wee tipple was had), it was then back to McGrory's in the evening again for a bite of dinner. 
The food was simply spectacular. None of us are food critics but we did mange to taste each others dishes and there wasn't a flaw to be found. We couldn't even fault the price! Every euro was worth its weight in food! I'm sure our dishes were rather easily washed in the kitchen afterwards!
Our lovely waitress Aoife was helpful, pleasant and not over imposing. 
Our dining neighbours may have been a tad young, but they so happened to be one of Ireland's up and coming Rhythm and Blues/Rock bands....none other than The Strypes! These four young lads were more than happy to pose for photos alongside us mature ladies (mature in age only!).
Later that night we enjoyed the amazing music by The Strypes in the Backroom at McGrory's and then it was all heads into the bar for a wee tipple before bed. There was fun, craic and banter at every turn.
After a great night's sleep in our comfy beds, it was to the dining room we did venture for breakfast at 9.30am. What a brekkie it turned out to be. From a selection of cereals, yoghurt, cheese, breads and so very much more, it was then that the grilled breakfast was consumed. If ever there was a breakfast to write home about, this was certainly it. I think we all spent most of the day talking about it from thereon.
And coincidentally our neighbours for breakfast just happened to be the four young gentlemen from The Strypes once more. We'll be making this experience our claim to fame to our grandchildren in the not too distant future I'm certain.
Prior to checking out of the hotel, we set out on a delightful walk to the beach and back to the bar for coffee and hot chocolate before the long (ha) journey back to Muff!
From arrival on Saturday lunchtime until departure Sunday lunchtime McGrory's proved a haven for us four ladies. It was comfortable, relaxed and a very pleasant experience in every way.
Shall we return? Most definitely. The staff took care of our every need and pleasantries were plentiful. This is one retreat I intend to escape to again. I think lunch shall be had there very soon.
For a weekend away or like ourselves, just one night, this is a little piece of heaven on our doorstep. Why on earth would one want to go anywhere else? McGrory's we shall be seeing you again soon :) 

Children's Art Workshops (The Playtrail)

What better way for your child to spend a Saturday than being creative. Over the next few Saturday's that's exactly what the kids can be at The Playtrail, Derry.
Childrens Art Workshops @The Playtrail.
Saturday 14th March - Saturday 4th April.
This week the theme is Lava Lamps Time (3-10 year olds) - sounds fun!
Cost £5 per session or just £20 for the 4 weeks.
Booking is essential for these workshops so text Emma on 07821410616 as places are limited.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Kids are Reading!

Yesterday, March 5th was World Book Day. I was delighted to be a part of it in Derry during the afternoon. From 1pm - 5pm I hosted a book table at Rath Mór Shopping Centre, courtesy of Guildhall Press and Little Acorns Bookstore, Derry. All proceeds from this sale were going towards Northern Ireland's Childrens Hospice.
During this time a number of books were purchased by children and their parents. The approximate age of the kids was probably around 8. Each and every one of them who looked through the selection of books became alive with excitement and enthusiasm as they searched the pages for enlightenment. Some stories were fairytale, some were scary, and some were factual. But all of them allowed for the expansion of the imagination. And all of them allowed the children to become excited with anticipation. Every child who visited the table today purchased at least one book and each left with excited faces about their impending read.
Today only served to enhance my belief that books really are the way to develop and inspire our children's imagination. Books allow our children to develop their vocabulary but also to explore their own imagination. Books are alive in the world today contrary to what the technology world might have us believe. Here's hoping this amazing pastime only grows and grows. Happy reading one and all :)

World Book Day 2015

Guildhall Press (Derry) & CREGGAN ENTERPRISES in association with Little Acorns Bookstore (Derry) will be celebrating World Book Day (UK & Ireland) on THURS 5 MARCH from 1pm - 5pm in the Rath Mor Shopping Centre Mall in Creggan, Derry with a selection of new and exciting Children's Books for sale with 50% off RRP. All proceeds donated to the NI Children's Hospice North West Support Group – Rath Mor Shop. Celebrating literature for Creativity NIMonth. For more details, please contact GUILDHALL PRESS at 02871 364413 or email