Armagh I Podcast
‘The Border Game‘ playwright Oisín Kearney tells tales from the border!

‘The Border Game‘ playwright Oisín Kearney tells tales from the border!

October 15, 2021

With the world opening up again slowly but surely, how does an evening out at the theatre sound? 

I can promise you one thing, should you decide to take a run up to Belfast and pick up a ticket for ‘The Border Game’ in the Lyric Theatre, you won’t be disappointed. 

Certainly if you watching anything that’s simultaneously hilarious and deeply tragic and also brilliantly acted. 

But you don’t have to take my word for it. The reviews are in and the critics agree. 

Warrenpoint playwright, director and filmmaker, Oisín Kearney, co-wrote ‘The Border Game’ with his writing partner Michael Patrick, after travelling the length of the Irish border and listening to around 100 people tell their stories about how it has impacted on their lives. 

The play is based on a compilation of some of those stories. It deals with the issues the two protagonists, Sinead and Henry – played wonderfully by Liz Fitzgibbon and Patrick McBrearty - faced as a young couple, of differing political and religious backgrounds, growing up on the border. 

Recalling the final journey and calls to get the Portadown-Armagh railway back on track

Recalling the final journey and calls to get the Portadown-Armagh railway back on track

October 1, 2021

In 2014, a petition was presented to Stormont with 10,000 signatures gathered from the streets and shops around Armagh, calling for the reinstatement of the local railway line.

Two years before that the Portadown Armagh Railway Society (PARS) was established with the same purpose in mind.

They also aim to educate the public on the history of the railway line between Armagh and Portadown and the huge impact its disbandment in 1957 has had on the area - not least from a connectivity point of view but also an environmental one, as cars increasingly clog our roadways.

For this week’s podcast we spoke to Chairman William Hutchinson and Committee member Willie Parr who told us all about the organisation and the progress their campaign has been making.

Puppy love with The Dog Guru, Keith Mathews

Puppy love with The Dog Guru, Keith Mathews

September 25, 2021

"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.

Ryan McShane takes us from Britain’s Got Talent to Dancing With The Stars

Ryan McShane takes us from Britain’s Got Talent to Dancing With The Stars

September 19, 2021

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.

Emma McQuaid – Ireland’s CrossFit Queen takes the world by storm

Emma McQuaid – Ireland’s CrossFit Queen takes the world by storm

September 10, 2021

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.

Cathy Brady – Award-winning Newry film maker lights up silver screen with Wildfire

Cathy Brady – Award-winning Newry film maker lights up silver screen with Wildfire

September 4, 2021

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.

Gemma Winchester – Omniplex Manager stuck a pin in the map and it landed on Armagh

Gemma Winchester – Omniplex Manager stuck a pin in the map and it landed on Armagh

August 27, 2021

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...

How loss of youngster sibling led three sisters to set up Sibling Grief Club

How loss of youngster sibling led three sisters to set up Sibling Grief Club

August 20, 2021

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. 

An insight into the mind of record-breaking open water swimmer Jordan Leckey

An insight into the mind of record-breaking open water swimmer Jordan Leckey

August 13, 2021

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…

Cara Malone of Supporting Women Newry – ‘protesters with dignity’

Cara Malone of Supporting Women Newry – ‘protesters with dignity’

July 30, 2021

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. 

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