A local American Football club is preparing to battle it out against three Northern Irish teams in a hotly-anticipated tournament.

The Donegal Derry Vipers will take on the Antrim Jets, Causeway Giants and NI Razorbacks to compete for the Donaghy Group Invitational Cup this summer.

The action will take place over four days in July and August, with the final played on August 15 at Prehen Playing Pitches.

Vipers member Paul O’Donnell urged spectators to get out and support the North West cross-border team, which has bases in Derry, Limavady, Greysteel and Letterkenny.


Vipers member Paul O’Donnell

Founded in 2014, the team was promoted to IAFA1 (Irish American Football Association) in 2017 and has a large roster of members, including a player from Alabama, and a coach from Chicago.

The Vipers are also currently recruiting for their youth squad, which will welcome 15 to 17-year-olds, male and female, with no previous experience required.

A new YouTube channel has been launched to help young people whose education and career prospects have been affected by the pandemic.

North West Regional College students joined forces with Enterprise North West and Startacus to create Week Gen-C, to inform people about the skills and tools they will need within the post-Covid economy, and the opportunities that already exist.

The channel, funded through the David Cross Young People’s Fund, features panel discussions and interviews with businesses including Learning Pool, Alchemy Technology, FinTrU, Hypixel Studios, UV Arts, Storefront and Ferry Clever, as well as support organisations such as Young Enterprise NI, Extern, NWRC Careers Academy, Derry Credit Union, careers and employment services and mental health charity AWARE.

Brian O’Neill, Director of Development and Enterprise, Enterprise North West, commented:

“The overall Week Gen-C project has exceeded our expectations and this has been mainly achieved through the hard work and creativity of the steering group of young people involved in the series of events right from the beginning. These events have been designed, produced and delivered by young people and have taken into account the negative impact of Covid-19 and the pandemic on young people’s prospects. We firmly believe that these series of events could be upscaled or replicated across NI to inspire other young people”

Alastair Cameron, Co-founder of Startacus, added:

“We’ve all been affected by the pandemic, but it has been even more challenging for our young people so it’s vital that we all do our bit to help them to look forward and to inspire and encourage them to reach their true potential. We’ve been delighted to partner with Enterprise North West on the Week Gen-C project and we have been hugely impressed by the creativity, commitment and dedication shown by the students from NWRC in bringing the entire project to fruition”.

The Week Gen-C recording are available to view on the Week Gen-C YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqLRGRr1jo5LF56hDH6tN0Q )

An internationally recognised ‘people’s art project’ celebrating local communities is being held in Derry and Strabane.

The Inside Out Project displays large-scale black and white portraits of local people in public spaces, turning their untold stories into works of art.

More than 260,000 people have participated in the scheme in 129 countries, exploring themes including hope, diversity, gender-based violence and climate change.

The project is being delivered by UV Arts C.I.C and Derry City and Strabane District Council with the final installations located at Ebrington Square, Strabane Alley Theatre and the Queens Quay walkway.

Karl Porter, Director of UV Arts CIC, explains: “The project is about celebrating our local community and mostly those who make the community what it is. This is an opportunity to build cohesion, build community pride and to really love where you live as sometimes we can take the natural beauty of our locations for granted.

“This is a chance for the local people to send us their photographs/selfies and images that will be included in our large-scale printed posters that will then be pasted or glued onto various walls across our city and district.

“It’s such an engaging activity that anyone can get involved with, a fresh celebration of the people most important to us in our community and city.” 

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is once again set to drop anchor in Derry next year, with the city announced as a host port.

Plans are now underway for the July 2022 Clipper stopover and the return of the internationally acclaimed Foyle Maritime Festival, which draws more than 200,000 attendees to the city’s quayside.

The Clipper 2019-20 Race was suspended in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, and plans for Derry to act as a Host Port Partner for the fifth time last summer were put on hold. The award-winning Foyle Maritime Festival was also cancelled as Council’s events programme moved online. The last Foyle Maritime Festival in 2018 attracted almost 211,000 attendees to a packed programme of events, and provided an estimated economic boost of at least £2 million for the local economy.

As part of the visual arts programme, from March 8th ‘Full Hoist Always’, delivered by the Void Gallery, will see roadside billboards transformed by artist Locky Morris, focusing on a positive message around care and support in the current times.As part of the Inside Out programme, UV Arts will deliver ‘The People’s Art Project’ which will take place from March 16th, looking at celebrating our local community and those who make the community what it is through portraits.The North West Carnival Initiative will deliver ‘Imagine That…’ – a combination of artist led creation, online content including tutorials, and neighbourhood focused activity.  Our city centre will be re-imagined with creative installations and pop up displays adorning areas including Shipquay Street and several quiet spaces within the Walls; fairy dwellings in​ Kilfennan, St Columb’s Park, Foyle Road, Brooke Park and the Fountain; a willow hare sculpture at Strabane Allotments, and the pig sculpture at the Alley Theatre being transformed into a seasonal leprechaun, and lots more.There will be a vast range of online content, including many events for Irish Language Week which is currently taking place and will finish on St Patrick’s Day.

. Included with Mayor Brian Tierney are Sha Gillespie and Jim Collins, NWCI, at front, and Margaret Crabtree, Keep her Knit, and Ann Millar, community participant.

In partnership with Donegal County Council, Irish Language Week aims to create opportunities for people to use and enjoy the Irish language, and this year Council have been working with partners in the Irish language community across the city and district to create a unique programme of online events which celebrate the Irish language as part of the shared heritage of the region.On March 16th, Council is working with partners on the virtual Destination Derry – Connecting with Home event which will see our diaspora living in all corners of the world come together to enjoy our shared history and love of this time of year, with conversation, music, culture and lots of entertainment.St Patrick’s Day will be marked by students from North West Regional College’s School of Performing Arts who will put together two celebratory traditional Irish music sessions. There will be range of talented artists and lots of great music for audiences to enjoy.Launching the programme,

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Brian Tierney, said it has something for everyone.”I’m delighted to launch our Spring and St Patrick’s Day programme which will be a much-needed boost to everyone locally and will bring some colour to our city and district as we move into a brighter season.”Like everything we have done over the past year, this programme has been put together with public health at the very forefront of our minds. Our Council officers have worked incredibly hard to organise a programme that strikes a balance between giving the public something to look forward to and celebrate, while also keeping everyone safe.”St Patrick’s Day and our Spring Carnival are terrific occasions in our annual calendar and while it is disappointing that we cannot celebrate with the usual gatherings and events, and our St Patrick’s Day parades, we have some very exciting online content as well as visual arts and creative outdoor installations and pop-up displays.”The Inside Out programme looks fantastic and we are once again working with the North West Carnival Initiative who have adapted their delivery of ‘Imagine That…’ festivities. It all comes together as one highly-anticipated programme.”

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Brian Tierney, with Sha Gillespie and Jim Collins, North West Carnival Initiative, and Margaret Crabtree, Keep Her Knit, at the launch of the Spring programme.

Jacqueline Whoriskey, Council’s Festival and Events Manager, added: “We have come through perhaps one of the most challenging winters that many of us have ever faced, and as we put together this Spring programme we were very conscious of capturing the spirit of a new season, a new chapter, and a fresh, bright outlook.”We have really adapted how we deliver these programmes in the past year, and in line with that we have continued to put a big focus on online content through the likes of Irish Language Week, the Destination Derry event and the music session being delivered by North West Regional College.”While we will not be holding any public events or gatherings, we have focused in on how we can creatively bring the Spring spirit to our streets with artwork and installations, with fairy dwellings and artistic sculptures that can be enjoyed by everyone when out getting some fresh air and exercise.”We hope that this adapted programme can be enjoyed safely by everyone.”

The Inside Out Programme is organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council with funding through the Department of Communities’ Business Revitalisation and Recovery Programme. For more information, visit www.derrystrabane.com/insideout

A virtual event promoting the North West as a great place to learn, work and visit will be held on the eve of St Patrick’s Day.

The Destination Derry initiative is holding a free evening of celebrations to connect Derry diaspora from all over the world with their hometown on March 16.

The event will include entertainment from Ulster University students, conversations with people who have chosen Derry as the location for their business or place of work, and a photo and video exhibition of previous St Patrick’s Day events in the city.

There will also be the opportunity to network with others worldwide in breakout Zoom rooms, and Foyle Search and Rescue will share how people can help them in their vital work.

Destination Derry was created by homebuilder Taggart Homes and its website (www.destinationderry.com) includes business support information, a blog, and Live, Learn, Work and Visit sections.

Tickets for the free St Patrick’s event can be booked at https://buytickets.at/destinationderry

A transatlantic conference hosted virtually in Derry’s Guildhall has attracted a record number of global participants.

The 12th Golden Bridges Conference and Awards ceremony saw political leaders, business and community representatives and education providers from the North West and Boston share their experiences of dealing with the COVID pandemic and preparing for Brexit.

The conference saw more than 500 registrations from all over the world and its influential delegates and speakers included Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Charlie McConalogue, and Seagate CEO Dave Mosley.

The challenge faced by the Ireland NW region in dealing with the pandemic was a predominate feature of the conference, with inputs and views from various community, cultural and commercial sector representatives from both sides of the Atlantic.

The annual Golden Bridges conference, usually held in Boston, aims to promote partnerships between Ireland Northwest and Boston, Massachusetts and highlight various community, business, and education initiatives in the two regions by bringing together influential business and political leaders.

You can watch the event back at www.aisling-events.com

Derry and Strabane’s fantastic eateries and artisan producers are taking centre stage with the unveiling of the LegenDerry food and drink brand.

The brand, launched by the local Food and Drink Network and supported by the Council, brings together our finest food-focused talent and puts the City and District firmly on the foodie map for locals and visitors alike.

Our innovative, authentic producers, growers, chefs, brewers and restaurateurs are celebrated on the new LegenDerry food website and in marketing material, including this video.

More than 50 online events took place in Derry and Strabane as part of the world’s first UNESCO Virtual Learning Festival.

(Photo – Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

Derry City and Strabane District Council, alongside funding partners North West Regional College and Ulster University, held the world’s first Virtual Learning City  Festival on Wednesday and Thursday.

Over 50 online events took place during the two-day programme in the form of information sessions, live presentations, short films and live chats exploring key areas such as Jobs & Skills, Health & Well-Being, Arts& Culture and Technology & Science.

In total, there were 40,000 engagement views on Facebook and other social media platforms during the two days.  

In addition, there was over 9,500 visitors to the bespoke Learning Festival website, including views on Youtube coming  largely from the UK and Ireland, but also due to the nature event and associated global conference which launched the festival, recorded traffic also came from Europe, Ukraine and Japan and Brazil. 

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Brian Tierney joined speakers from Colombia, Seoul, Bangkok, Cork, Hamburg, USA and Derry to open the festival, and he said he was delighted to see so many had enjoyed the programme on offer.

“Achieving the UNESCO Learning City status for the Derry and Strabane region was an important moment for our district, it was brilliant to see it celebrated in virtual format.

“The wide variety of topics covered meant that there was something to attract everyone’s attention, and it really captured the essence of what learning is about – picking up new skills and information.

“Thanks to our Council team, to North West Regional College and Ulster University, and to all those who delivered workshops and interactive sessions across the two days  without this collaboration we could not have run  a virtual event.”

Malachy Ó Néill, Provost at Ulster University’s Magee campus said: “Ulster University has been privileged to collaborate once again with our neighbours Derry City and Strabane District Council and North West Regional College to acquire UNSECO Learning City status for our city and to host the inaugural Virtual Learning Festival. Well done and thank you to all involved.

“It has been inspirational to see and hear so many people come together to learn. As our thoughts turn to enabling the cultural and tourism sectors in the North West post COVID-19, we look forward to building on this initiative in the future for the good of the people of the city and region.”

Leo Murphy, Principal and Chief Executive of North West Regional College said: “This was a fantastic festival and all at NWRC were delighted to be part of such an innovative event in this new era of learning through a virtual format.

“We continue to support career ambitions across the region and look forward to continued collaboration with the partners of the festival in the future.”

Padraig Canavan, Chair Learning City said: “It was an honour for us to attract so many distinguished speakers from around the globe to our opening seminar.  

“With ‘Lockdown Learning’ as the theme we heard about individual, community and nationwide learning initiatives like ‘Classrooms without Walls’ and the new libraries – ‘Smart Learning Civic Centres’.  A great first for Learning Cities and for Derry and Strabane.”

If you missed the festival over the last few days you can watch all of the LIVE Zoom recordings and premiered events at the Learning Hub.  Learning City’s is delighted that this Learning hub can be now used and shared.  It is a valuable resource for people of all ages to enjoy at any time, over and over again available at https://www.derrystrabane.com/LearningFest. 

There is a growing sense of optimism among Derry City fans after Declan Devine’s return to the Brandywell hot seat yielded a fourth place League of Ireland Premier Division finish last month and with it European football for 2020.

The club were at one of their lowest ever ebbs when the former goalkeeper returned for a second spell in charge at the end of the 2018 season having narrowly avoided relegation with an eighth place finish in the ten team league.

With a limited budget, the persuasive Creggan man made some shrewd pre-season signings including UCD midfielder Greg Slockett and the return of Ramelton man Barry McNamee.

They were expected to struggle though following Aaron McEneff’s switch to Shamrock Rovers and the departure of long term custodian and club captain Gerard Doherty.

The new look side rallied however and, playing a high tempo brand of possession football, they got their fight back, conceding just 34 goals in 36 games and netting 56 with striker Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe bagging 34 goals in 34 games.

The lure of bigger wages from clubs south of the border, and indeed the Irish League, means it has been a losing battle to keep the best local players at the club and it is hard to see them challenging for a league title until they can offer local talent a competitive remuneration.

Last month’s FAI Cup Final between Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk was a case in point where North West players McEneff, Danny Lafferty, Michael Duffy and Georgie Kelly all had pivitol roles.

What City can offer however is a proven gateway for younger players to move to full time football in England and Scotland and the chance to emulate the likes of James McClean, Stephen McLaughlin and Ronan Curtis.

With participation numbers strong in the Youth Leagues of Derry and Donegal and Devine’s experience in nurturing emerging young talent, a higher league position and a group stage win in Europe is within their grasp in 2020.