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A year of some ups but a lot more worrying downs

  So another year has passed. It was a year that will not readily be forgotten. Islamic State extremist attacks in Belgium, France and Germany, the destruction of Syria, the ongoing refugee crisis and the rise of the right wing vote throughout Europe, the fallout from the Brexit referendum in June and the election of […]

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Hazel was next to every Irishman’s heart

  Belfast born artist John Lavery married Kathleen McDermott in 1889. Shortly after the birth of their daughter Eileen she died of tuberculosis early in 1891. In September 1903 while painting on the beach at Peg Meil in France he was introduced to Hazel Martyn, a 17-year-old who was accompanied by her mother and sister. […]

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M’learned friends and not refs will soon make rugby calls

JUST before the start of the GAA Championships it is customary for the President or one of his acolytes to call a press conference to gravely inform the public that the Association are determined to eradicate foul play. Last year we were told that referees were going to concentrate on “cynical fouling” which was a […]

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Rich and fascinating history of Belfast’s best-loved bar

  Why does that Kelly’s arch require staff to duck down? “Do you know why the arch behind the bar is so low? No? I’ll tell you later. Take a look at the height of the bar counter.” The question was put to me away back in the early 1960s by Jim Gallagher as he […]

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Kevin Barry was just a lad of eighteen summers

  Ardoyne singer Jim Sherrie was taking a break and enjoying a bit of fresh air. Tony Strong was also outside enjoying a smoke from his crooked pipe (he’s a devoted pipe smoker as well as being an authority on ballad singing). Earlier he had commented on Sherrie’s singing style. In particular he was impressed […]

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Nelson blast echoed across Ireland

  I’m quite sure that Belfast-based teacher Finbar Carolan and his colleagues John Sullivan, Eamon McGirr and Gerry Burns never heard of Seamus Sutcliffe or Francis Johnston. Yet they all had a connection to one of the momentous events in Ireland in the twentieth century. Nelson’s Pillar had stood in Sackville Street, later O’Connell Street, […]

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