Ireland North West drinks companies In Good Spirits for Philadelphia showcase:

Two North West companies are travelling to Philadelphia this week to take part in a prestigious Irish American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) Craft Drinks event.  

Locally based Baronscourt Brewing Company, and  The Muff Liquor Company from Donegal, will showcase their produce, connect with drinks distributors and business leaders with a view to expanding their networks into the Greater Philadelphia region.

The companies will travel along with representatives from Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal Local Enterprise Office, to participate in the prestigious “In Good Spirits” event, following an invitation from the Chamber of Commerce in Philadelphia

The event is part of the strategic Ireland Northwest initiative between Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council and their partners to develop in-market support for local companies to help them build relationships to support the development of export opportunities.

The Councils have been working closely with the IACC and Pennsylvania Dept. of Community & Economic Development to promote the North West region and are delighted that Baronscourt and Muff Liquor can avail of the unique opportunity to further develop their exports into the US market.

The two local companies will be joined by Teeling Whiskey, Drioglann Local Measc Distillery, as well as distillers from Philadelphia.

The “In Good Spirits” event will feature a panel discussion and question and answer session moderated by Terese Waldron, Director of Graduate Food Marketing Program at Saint Joseph’s University. There will be drinks experts from  Pennsylvania and Irish industry taking part including, Eve-Anne McCarron, Donegal Local Enterprise Office, responsible for The Food Coast Initiative); John Teeling of Teeling Whiskey; Andrew Auwerda, President & Co-Founder of Philadelphia Distilling and John Cooper, Co-Founder of Mountain Laurel Spirits (Dad’s Hat Rye).

The panel discussion will be followed by a tasting session featuring Teeling WhiskeyBaronscourt Brewing Co.The Muff Liquor CompanyLough Mask DistilleryPowers Irish WhiskeyDad’s Hat Rye Whiskey, and Manatawny Still Works. The participants will get an opportunity to pitch their products and meet with industry experts who will assist the companies seeking market entry and develop local partnerships.

Welcoming Derry City and Strabane District Council’s participation in the event, Director of Business Stephen Gillespie said the visit is part of the Ireland Northwest’s strategic objectives, aimed at assisting local companies to internationalise their business, increase their business connections and exports.

A key element of this visit is that it aligns with the objectives set out in the recently launched Council food and drink strategy.  

“This is a great opportunity for Baronscourt Brewing Co. and Muff Liquor Company to showcase their products and further develop their links with drink distributors in the US. It’s a huge privilege for us to be invited to take part in this prestigious event and to be given a platform to promote the North West region as a food and drink destination. The event will be attended by a range of influencers in the drinks sector and our participation at this showcase is testament to the ongoing relationship we have developed with Philadelphia during our trade investment visits,” he said.

Michael Tunney, Head of Enterprise with the Donegal Local Enterprise Office noted how this visit supports the wider efforts which they have been focused on through the Food Coast initiative and enterprise development goals. 

He said: “The Local Enterprise Office in Donegal has been leading out on The Food Coast iniaitiative project for over eight years now and before that we had the 315 Foods regional project covering counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim and Cavan. Our ultimate objective is to grow the number and the sustainability of artisan and added –value food manufacturers in Donegal.  To achieve this we have had to work with food businesses from across the sectors, from primary producers to manufacturers, food service firms to chefs and restaurants, as well as all the regional stakeholders”

“Over this period we have also worked with Derry City & Strabane District Council on a European food project. This event in Philadelphia is yet another opportunity for food and drinks firms from the northwest to raise the profile and awareness of what is happing with food in the region and we look forward to further opportunities being developed for our local firms through this engagement. “

Alanna M. Barry McCloskey, Business Manager and Marketing Coordinator with the Irish American Business Chamber and Network said: “On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Irish American Business Chamber & Network, we are thrilled to welcome a delegation of Irish craft distillers and brewers and representatives from Derry City and Strabane and Donegal County Councils. Our visiting companies will meet with various Chamber members, local business leaders, and government representatives with the goal of expanding their networks and expanding into the Greater Philadelphia region.

“We are very much looking forward to introducing our visiting companies to the Irish Chamber membership at a special event, In Good Spirits: The Rise of Craft Distilling and Brewing in Pennsylvania and Ireland. This panel discussion and tasting session will feature both Irish and Pennsylvania companies and highlight the parallel track of the craft industries in Pennsylvania and Ireland.

“Throughout the Chamber’s 20 year history, we have welcomed delegations of Irish companies and government representatives to the Philadelphia Region. We actively work to promote the Island of Ireland in the Philadelphia region and conversely, highlight Philadelphia as a destination for Irish businesses, trade and investment.”

The delegation will depart to Philadelphia on Wednesday 15th May.

Further trade missions are scheduled to take place to both Boston and Philadlephia in November when both Councils will be supporting a range of local companies to assess their readiness to export and gear up to target and explore new business opportunities in export markets.

Seagate unveils £57m investment plans and 25 new jobs for Derry plant

LEADING electronics manufacturer Seagate Technology has announced a £57.4 million investment in its Springtown plant.

The company, which provides data storage solutions for companies across the world including read-write heads for hard disk drives, has announced major investment in R&D at its wafer manufacturing plant at Springtown, which will create 25 highly skilled new jobs.

Seagate is investing £47.4m of its own money and is being aided by long-time supporter Invest NI to the tune of almost £10m (£9.95m).

The funding will be focused on enabling further research and development in nanophotonics, cementing Springtown’s position as a leader in world class technology innovation.

Speaking at the announcement yesterday, Seagate chief executive officer, Dave Mosley said the latest investment will further grow the business, which set up in Derry back in 1994.

“Technology innovation is the cornerstone of our success and the industry-leading innovation delivered by our facility in Springtown has been at the heart of our business strategy for the last 25 years,” he said.

“Today’s investment extends a successful, collaborative partnership with Invest Northern Ireland and will further strengthen our ability to deliver customer-centric technology leadership for the data-driven future of the global economy.”

Jeremy Fitch, executive director of business solutions at Invest NI said they are delighted to continue the successful partnership with Seagate

“Supporting the company along the way has been Invest NI, with every £1 of our support contributing to £4 investment in the local economy.”

“We are delighted to be able to offer support towards this latest project which will see 120 highly skilled researchers here at Springtown, including 25 new recruits, play a major role in the development of ground-breaking new technology,” he said.

Londonderry Chamber of Commerce president, Brian McGrath hailed the investment as “extremely welcome” news.

“It is great to see that the investment will create 25 highly skilled jobs and will bring a number of important economic benefits to the area.

“This is a clear indication and endorsement that the north west is an important place to do business and emphasises that we have impressive talent and ability throughout the region,” Mr McGrath added.

Seagate’s Springtown facility is recognised as one of the foremost 200mm wafer fabrication plants in the world.

The site has grown from an initial charter of world class manufacturing in the first decade of operations to adding development and product launch capabilities in the last ten years. The facility employs over 1,400 staff and the company is estimated to have invested in excess of £1 billion in capital here over the past 25 years.

Strabane Community Project’s new ‘Grass Roots Concept’ has been announced as a joint winner of this year’s £2k Social Enterprise Competition run by Derry City & Strabane District Council as part of Enterprise Week 2019.

£2,000 from the Council’s ‘Social Enterprise Innovation Seed Fund’ was up for grabs recently at Strabane District Caring Services as budding social entrepreneurs from throughout the City & District pitched their creative ideas for innovative projects they want to see get off the ground.

Following the Social Enterprise Competition, £1k has now been awarded to ‘Strabane Community Project’ and ‘The Playtrail’ to help both groups set up a new shop / kitchen and training facilities.

Strabane Community Project will use the prize money to purchase cooking utensils, crockery and chefs’ clothing for larger kitchen facilities which will offer training opportunities and cooking workshops for people in the local area.

Set up in 1987 to support older and more vulnerable residents in the area, Strabane Community Project also opened one of Northern Ireland’s first ‘social supermarkets’ under the management of Ursula Doherty in January 2018 to help people living in food poverty.

The innovative new ‘social supermarket’ sells products reduced in price by up to 70% to people receiving welfare payments and tax credits.  This allows them to purchase a range of cheaper items – including fresh and frozen food, dried goods, as well as fruit and vegetables – provided as surplus stock by the charity Fare Share

Ursula Doherty, Manager of Strabane Community Project said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded £1k from the Social Enterprise Innovation Seed Fund!

“This will make a huge impact in terms of us being able to buy cooking utensils, crockery and chefs’ clothing to help us to take this exciting project forward.

“At the Strabane Community Project we’ve always been keen to develop a range of skill-building programmes, including cooking skills, money management and personal development, education programmes, training, etc.

“Our café has also been greatly supported by the public and local businesses, community groups and outreach services who make use of the facilities to deliver meetings and events.

“Our plans are under way for phase 2 of Grass Roots and work will be commencing in early April of the installation of a new larger kitchen to meet that increasing demand. Indeed, it will also be a ‘training kitchen’ providing Level 1 & 2 accreditation in catering & hospitality.  Non-accredited courses will also be available for families and individuals who’d like to learn cooking skills or ‘How to cook on a budget’ programmes which will be delivered by the NW Regional College.

“Importantly, we’re keen to help people come together and learn more about cooking – and in doing so better promote healthy living for residents in Strabane and the surrounding areas.”

Danielle McNally, Business Officer with Derry City & Strabane District Council and a member of the four-strong panel who judged the £2k Social Enterprise competition, said: “I was delighted to judge this year’s pitching competition and hear from the many groups and social entrepreneurs from across the Council area who are interested in developing their new project idea.

“Importantly, the ‘Social Enterprise Innovation Seed Fund’ is about rewarding and encouraging creativity, talent and innovative ideas within social enterprise.

“As part of this year’s prize package both ‘Strabane Community Project’ and ‘The Playtrail’ will not only secure £1k in financial support, but can also avail of business support services from the Council which will help them grow.

“Indeed, it’s wonderful to see that funding for the larger working kitchen will provide much-needed training opportunities – and also benefit this great community space that is doing so much to unite residents across different backgrounds, ethnicities and ages.”


The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr John Boyle said the visit today by the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelossi was a huge honour for the city and a significant vote of confidence in the work being done to bring about real and positive change for the citizens of the City region.

Speaking at a reception in the city’s Guildhall today, Mayor Boyle spoke about the strong historic, business and political links between the City region and the United States and the strong determination and ambition to further build and develop those links.

Mayor Boyle said the visit by President Clinton to Derry in 1995 had brought hope and gave the people of the city confidence to seek a different future. He said today’s visit was a strong endorsement of the message to renew that commitment.

He acknowledged the strong commercial relationship the city has with the US in terms of trade and investment and spoke of the commitment on both sides to continue to work in close collaboration to strengthen those relationships to create a prosperous and peaceful future for everyone.

He paid tribute to John Hume, who could not attend but who was represented by his wife Pat, by acknowledging his political “vision, tenacity and imagination.”

The Mayor acknowledged the challenges the City region faces with Brexit and reassured the delegation that by working in close partnership we have created a strong functioning cross border economy that is both resilient and robust.

He thanked Ms Pelosi for taking time out of her busy schedule to visit Derry and for her tireless support for the Good Friday Agreement.

Concluding he said: “With the words of President Clinton, “Let’s finish the job” because there is still a lot of work that needs to be done and I have absolutely no doubt the people of this city will be fully appreciative of your assistance in realising our ambition.”

Professional and amateur golfers are teeing up for the Walled City of Derry & Strabane Pro Am Tournament, which will take place on August 24 and 25.

As one of the largest events in this year’s PGA calendar, and now in its third year, the tournament hosts 52 teams and a total of 208 golfers.

Top Irish PGA Professionals from all over Ireland will be competing for the title and a guaranteed prize pot of 15,000 euros.

Sponsored by Bishop’s Gate Hotel and Frylite and supported by Derry City and Strabane District Council, the tournament has attracted Ireland’s top professionals, including Irish PGA Order of Merit Winner Simon Thornton and defending Champion Michael McGeady.

Strabane Golf Club will be a location in this year’s tournament, ensuring it is a truly North West event.

Ciaran O’Neill of Bishop’s Gate Hotel said: “This tournament promotes the extremely strong offering that the North West region provides in terms of golf tourism.

It brings together a broad range of golfers and golf enthusiasts and it is a top attraction in this summer’s sporting calendar. We’re thrilled to be involved and we’re looking forward to showcasing what the North West has to offer.”

For further information, please contact City of Derry Golf Club on 028 7131 1496.

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The world’s top golfers are preparing for The 148th Open, which returns to Northern Ireland after 68 years.

Sports fans from around the globe are set to descend upon Royal Portrush in July to watch the greatest players compete for the iconic Claret Jug in golf’s oldest championship.

The event, which runs from July 14 to 21, is returning to the region after 68 years, making it only the second time The Open has been staged outside of Scotland and England.

The best players in the world will take on the Dunluce Links, a tough test of golf. Originally designed by Harry Colt, the course is routed through the rugged links land and constantly changes in both direction and elevation.

The Open was last staged at Royal Portrush in 1951, when Max Faulkner was crowned champion.

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The last few seasons at Derry City Football Club have been far from vintage, but there is a growing feeling around the recently renamed and refurbished Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium that the club is back moving in the right direction.

Last season’s 8th place finish in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table and the subsequent departure of Manager Kenny Shiels left the Candy Stripes at their lowest ebb since 2009, when they went into financial administration and were relegated to the First Division.

Devine returns

With the vast majority of the 2018 playing staff out of contract and a limited budget, Declan Devine returned to the club for a second spell in the hot seat and took on the unenviable task of rebuilding the squad virtually from scratch.

Despite some shrewd signings, the majority of the 2019 first team playing panel are players elevated from the club’s youth set-up and the expectation of most supporters when the League of Ireland season kicked off in February was that the club would be doing well to avoid relegation.

While the results from their opening six games have been mixed with two wins, two draws and two losses, there is a confidence and excitement around the club again that has been sorely missing in recent seasons.

New formation

The team look to have their swagger back with Devine deploying a 4-2-3-1 formation that encourages his midfield players to push forward and be creative, perhaps most notably in their 3-0 opening night win over UCD at the Brandywell.

Their two defeats to date have come against Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers, the top two sides in the league whose spending power has lured local talent such as Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy and Aaron McEneff away from the Brandywell.

Perhaps most crucially, they have conceded just seven goals in their seven games played to date, which compares particularly favourably with the 70 they let in in 36 league games last season.

Refurbished stadium

Despite the significantly improved match day experience at the newly refurbished stadium, attendances last season were at an all-time low, but there has been a marked increase in the crowds and fans appear to be buying into what the new manager is trying to achieve.

There will surely be highs and lows this season, but with a marked increase in the number of local players in a first team squad who are playing attractive football for a management team made up of former players, Derry City seem to have rediscovered their identity and the feel-good factor has returned to the Brandywell.

Northern Ireland’s biggest and best Jazz Festival returns this May Bank Holiday weekend, with a headliner performance from Tainted Love singer Marc Almond.

More than 70,000 revellers are expected to descend on the city for the annual celebration, which is now in its 18th year.

Jazz and big band artists from all over the world will perform at the event, which runs from May 2 to 6, including Kitty LaRoar, Mr Wilson’s Second Liners, Jumpin Up!, Jive Aces and Kaz Hawkins.

Former Soft Cell frontman Marc Almond will perform in the Millennium Forum on May 3, while visitors can also avail of Jazz Master Classes with respected musicians and Jazz Hubs at the Playhouse, Bennigans and the Great Hall at Magee.

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Derry’s city centre was a blaze of colour as the city’s biggest ever St Patrick’s Day Parade filled Shipquay Street with a vibrant display celebrating youth and culture.

Over ten thousand people lined the streets despite the windy conditions, as over 700 performers from community, arts and sporting groups brought the magical story of Tír na nÓg to life.

The parade, which is delivered by the North West Carnival Initiative with support from Council, was the highlight of a weekend of multi-cultural events taking place across Derry and Strabane, with a whole host of family friendly activities and animation.

Leading off the parade the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle, said he was delighted to see so many people enjoying the festival. 

“It’s fantastic to see so many local groups taking part in the festivities today. 

“It really is a massive community effort and a great cultural event for the City that showcases our creative talent and community spirit. 

“I’m delighted to see so many people flocking to the city centre to support the event that will benefit local businesses and enhance our profile as a cultural hub.

“Over the weekend we have celebrated cultures and traditions from around the world, and embraced the rich tapestry of ethnicity that makes our City and District such an inclusive and welcoming place. 

A high-level delegation of senior UK diplomats visited Londonderry in Feb as part of a two day visit to gain a wider understanding of the political structures, strengths, and unique offer of Northern Ireland. The visit was an opportunity to engage local interests and discuss how the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with other partners, is delivering support internationally for all parts of the UK, including Northern Ireland. During their visit, the group met with the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Councillor John Boyle and senior officers of council where they were given an overview of the council’s Strategic Inclusive Growth Plan and the work the council is doing to secure national growth in the city region. Mayor John Boyle said the meeting was very positive in identifying opportunities the Foreign and Commonwealth Office can help to represent the city and district’s interests abroad and to assist in helping the city region achieve its ambition.

Visting Heads of Mission Discuss Derry City and Strabane Growth Plans

He said it was an excellent opportunity for the council and its stakeholders to engage directly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to discuss common interests in terms of business, trade and investment and education opportunities. The delegation also met with representatives from Invest NI before they travelled to Seagate Technology and the Ulster University. The delegation participated in a walking tour of the Historic City Walls before sampling a range of the finest local food and drink produce a food and drink tasting event at the Bishop’s Gate Hotel that was hosted by Invest NI, before an evening reception hosted by the Mayor. Speaking after the visit the Mayor extended his thanks to the delegation saying it was hugely significant in forging links with the FCO and in sharing information that will help the region with its current business and education challenges.

He said: “This visit by the UK senior diplomats was a very important visit for the city and wider region. It was a great opportunity for us to showcase our city and the really positive work we are doing through our Strategic Growth Plan to attract investment, invest in research and education and improve our health and wellbeing. We were able to show the benefits of strategic partnership working between council, the Ulster University and Seagate and welcome the commitment of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in representing the interests of Northern Ireland Internationally.”