All posts by Noreen Rodgers

Harry’s Shack Restaurant review

According to Virginia Woolf; “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well.” Last week I visited the almost infamous Harry’s Shack.

Harry’s Shack is a very suitable name for the restaurant which opened its doors to the public in August 2014. Situated at the gateway to the beautiful Portstewart Strand, the ‘Shack,’ slips in perfectly with the beautiful  beach setting. So much so it feels like it was always there.

Inside you enter into a welcoming and laid back setting. I automatically was brought back to my time in St Kilda, a little sea side town in Melbourne. The restaurant is simple yet effective. It is there to provide good food for those who enjoy spending their time at Portstewart Strand.

Owner Donegal man Donal Doherty, is not new to the restaurant business. His father owns the famous ‘Harry’s,’ restaurant in Donegal.  No doubt connecting the two restaurants by name, Donal wanted to continue the success of Harry’s into Harry’s Shack. And success he has had if you count his restaurant being awarded best ‘new comer 2014/2015′ with his Chef, Derek Creag,h also being awarded Chef of the Year.

The menu is simple but  far from boring and it offers more than just the usual, ‘pub grub,’ . All food used is freshly grown local produce and you can tell the food tastes fresh, clean and light. After a beautiful three course meal I didn’t come away feeling lethargic or thirsty, a feeling I get after eating out in most restaurants.

The menu has variety but it is simple and allows the customer to see and know where their dinner is coming from. Food options range from baby turnip soup, pickled veg with goat’s cheese, pulled chicken leg on cos lettuce with soft hen eggs in a crisp shallot with buttermilk dressing, beetroot salads, sage and pumpkin risotto, brown butter shrimp and a variety of fresh fish of the day, with produce coming from Greencastle Harbour, County Donegal.

Although no wine list is on offer, Harry’s shack is licenced for BYO creating an even more relaxed atmosphere. There is no doubt this restaurant is worth the visit.  From great food to excellent staff it would be worth your while to check it out. They also liaise wonderfully with the public through their very active Facebook page. For more information see https://www.facebook.com/HarrysShack  or contact Donal or any of the staff on 028 7083 1783. Harry’s Shack, 118 Strand Road, Portstewart Tel: 028 7083 1783 to see what all the fuss was about.

‘The New council of Newry, Mourne and Down have ambitious hopes to lead and serve a district that is prosperous, healthy and sustainable.’

On April 1 2015 the councils across Northern Ireland changed into what is now known as ‘Super councils.’ The council numbers went down from 26 councils to 11 councils. This is conveyed in the diagram below:

A map of Northern Ireland's new council areas
A map of Northern Ireland’s new council areas

The councils would still retain the same powers as previous councils but now with additional powers. A number of functions which were previously delivered by the NI Executive department are now in the hands of the council these include:

  • Local Planning Functions
  • Off-street parking
  • Local economic developmement
  • Community development (will transfer in April 2016)
  • Urban regeneration (will transfer in April 2016)

See link http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/local-government-reform

In this article I am going to look at Urban Regeneration in the new council area of Newry, Mourne and Down District council.

Newry, Mourne and Down District council is the third largest council area in Northern Ireland with a population of 171, 500 people and a coastline of 100 miles approximately. The council has ambitious plans for its future but claim their biggest challenge is establishing a new organisation and providing seamless change. The next four years of the councils strategic planning is crucial. It will be in this time that they want to deliver and make a real difference to the economic, health, educational and environmental well being of the district.

Last week I spoke with the new Economic Development and Regeneration officer at Newry and Mourne District Council, Sandra Magee. She explained more to be the plans of regeneration for the new Newry, Mourne and Down District council.

‘This is a new era for the district as a new council Newry, Mourne and down district council which was established following the amalgamation of Newry and Mourne District council with Down District council’, said Mrs Magee.

She explained that it is an exciting time for the district but also very challenging. ‘Although recent economic data points to recovery which is well underway and real opportunities for the future economic prosperity we have significant number of areas of social deprivation.’

“Regeneration” is more than just tackling disadvantage across the area said Mrs Magee. ‘It is about making improvements to business premises a concrete aspect of tackling visual disadvantage but we have 5 themes to get in there and cover the nitty gritty. Our council is very lucky to have many assets such as the beautiful natural environment, strategic location on the Island of Ireland and impressive built heritage which we must capitalise on them.’

The Five themes for Newry, Mourne and Down District Council are:

  • Theme 1 Economic Development
  • Theme 2 Tourism Development, making promotion
  • Theme 3 Urban Development & Events & regeneration
  • Theme 4 Rural development and regeneration
  • Theme 5 Culture and the Arts.

The Diagrams below convey examples of how the New council of Newry, Mourne and Down hope to achieve this regeneration:

 

                         Strengths Weaknesses
· Strategic importance of location North/South economic corridor and eastern Seaboard· Strong entrepreneurial tradition·Outstanding natural beauty of the area

·         Availability of wide range of outdoor activities

· Strong agricultural and fishing tradition

·Diverse cultural offering

·Several key cultural assets and active local arts communities

·Good cross border linkages

·Poor connectivity- roads broadband·Business networks fragmented·  Aging workforce

· Natural resources not creating business opportunities/jobs

· Lack of strong, identifiable brand for the region

·Some areas of disadvantage still remain

· Over reliance on domestic and Irish visitor market

· Lack of cohesion of cultural sector and few links with tourism

· Contribution of culture and arts to the economy not recognised

 

                         Opportunities Threats
·Strategic opportunities at warrenpoint & Kilkeel Harbour·Business support for growing businesses· Collaboration with invest NI & Tourism Ireland to attract investment

·Use of the Diaspora, local business champions

· Engagement for colleges & schools

· Mournes as a tourism destination

·Location for outdoor/adventure tourism & food tourism

·Community asset transfer model

· Public/private cultural and tourism partnerships

·Strong cross border linkages and partnerships

·Slow economic growth·Competition from Belfast and Dublin for new investment·Reduced public spending resources

·Currency fluctuation creates uncertainty

·Development pressures

·Political legacy need for rural regeneration

·External negative perceptions of border area as area to invest and visit in

·Concern that much of the focus will be on the ‘Newry’ part of the new council

Below is an example of Newry, Mourne and Down District’s Council Strategic plans:

By 2019, we will have:

  1. Become one of the premier tourism destinations on the island of Ireland;
  2. Attracted investment and supported the creation of new jobs;
  3. Supported improved health and wellbeing outcomes;
  4. protected our natural and built environment;
  5. led the regeneration of our urban and rural areas;
  6. Advocated on your behalf specifically in relation to those issues which really matter to you;
  7. Empowered and improved the capacity of our communities; and
  8. Transformed and modernised the Council, providing accessible as well as value for money services.

 

There is no doubt Newry, Mourne and Down District council are conveying their ‘super’ powers already with their ambitious goals. Regeneration is a huge element in obtaining these. Mrs Magee said, ‘It is important that we achieve these goals but even more important is that we are able to sustain them.’

Given the councils strategic development plans for the future of the district if they ‘were’ able to achieve and maintain these goals then Newry, Mourne and Down District Council will undoubtedly be a ‘Super Council.’

For more information on Newry, Mourne and Down District council please visit the below links:

http://www.newrymournedown.org

Newry Address:
Monaghan Row, Newry, BT35 8DJ, Northern Ireland
Council: 0300 013 2233
Planning: 0300 200 7830
Email: info@nmandd.org

Downpatrick Address:
Downshire Civic Centre, Ardglass Road, Downpatrick, BT30 6GQ

http://www.doeni.gov.uk/index/local_government/local_government_reform

 

North West 200 Launch

NW 200

24/3/2015: Stars of the 2015 Vauxhall International North West 200 pictured with Event Director Mervyn Whyte at the race launch in Titanic, Belfast. (L-R) Jeremy McWilliams, Ryan Farquhar, John McGuinness, Lee Johnston, Maria Costello, Dean Harrison, Michael Rutter, Peter Hickman, Alastair Seeley and William Dunlop. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON PACEMAKER, BELFAST.

Last night I attended the 2015 Vauxhall International North West 200 press launch at the Titanic Quarter, Belfast. With just 47 days to the next NW200 fans and riders alike prepare themselves for the 86th North West 200 road race and Ireland’s largest outdoor sporting event.

The press launch wasn’t just your usual PR event. It was a chance for the riders to engage with the fans, with the aim of making the NW200 as enjoyable as possible for everyone.

It was my first time ever attending such an event and my first feeling of the night was surprise.  I couldn’t believe how relaxed it was, and how humble the riders were.  All the riders seen in the picture above hold amazing racing records yet their humility and clear passion for their fans, as well as the sport, was just astonishing to see. I kept wondering would certain golfing stars of the world be as pleasant and willing among a large group of almost 1,000 fans demanding pictures, autographs and on some occasions much more.

Have a look at this interview with NW200 Director Mervyn Whyte on the reasons why you should come to the NW200, 2015.

The North West 200 name derives from the location of the event on the North West of Ireland, an area of outstanding beauty, ‘200’ was included to keep links to the original race which was run over a distance of 200 miles.

There is no doubt that the NW200 will be a wonderful experience for anyone and in an area of such beauty just adds to the glamour of the event.

For those looking more information on the event visit the NW200’s official website here.  For information on accommodation and other things to do while attending the NW200  visit this site.