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Belfast Woman Mary Anne Farenden Wins RTE Hit Gardening Show Super Garden

Belfast woman, Mary Anne Farenden has been crowned the winner of RTE’s 2022 edition of the popular horticulture show, ‘Super Garden’.

Mary Anne, 29, made her debut on the show in episode three where she transformed the garden of the Devine family into an enchanted woodland in just five weeks and with a budget of only €15,000.

Competing with four other budding designers from across Ireland who were battling it out to secure a coveted garden spot at Ireland’s leading garden festival, Bord Bia’s ‘Bloom’, Mary Anne likened the experience to a rollercoaster ride.

“The whole experience has been amazing, it’s been a rollercoaster. A lot of stress, a lot of things happening and it hasn’t really sunk in yet. It feels like I am living someone’s life and watching it happen” she said.

When she applied for the show, winning wasn’t the only motivator for Mary Anne. For her, it was to help a family build the garden of their dreams. Drawing inspiration from a broad range of gardens including cottage, fairy woodland and zen gardens, Mary pulled out all the stops to ensure she won over the family and judges.

She explained: “I wasn’t trying to build specifically for a Bloom-worthy garden. I was building a garden within the parameters that I was given. I knew it had to be a show garden but I also knew that for me to be able to do it, it had to be completely authentic to myself.”

From her first conversation with The Devine Family, Mary Anne had a solid idea of what Shannon and Kevin wanted for their family. It was important for everyone involved to create a garden which was functional and sustainable for a family of five.

“They absolutely loved it. It was just amazing to see the kids just be so happy with it and Shannon and Kevin loved it too” she said.

“They helped me as well, they took really good care of me while I was there; with food, a lot of water and even by offering me a place to stay after a long day! It was good that we had a really good relationship, they’ve been really happy with it and the dogs love it too. We actually still keep in touch.”

Taking home the coveted trophy, the small business owner described how she was ‘absolutely delighted’ to win the show.

Mary Anne said: “I feel like I can believe in myself a bit more. That’s probably one of the best things it’s done for me – it’s given me confidence in my abilities. I feel so proud of myself and everything that I achieved. It’s as if a heavy weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” she said, adding: “It does feel amazing to have won and I feel so proud of myself and everything that I achieved and all the people that helped. I’m just so grateful for them.” 

As the winner of Super Garden, Mary Anne will now have an exhibit at the prestigious Bord Bia Bloom Show in Dublin which showcases Ireland’s indigenous horticulture, food and drink industry. 

Running from June 2 to June 6, this year’s show marks the 16th anniversary and is expected to attract over 110,000 visitors annually to Ireland’s favourite gardening and lifestyle festival.

A spokesperson for Bord Bia Bloom show said: “Bord Bia Bloom is delighted to feature the winning Super Garden again, along with last year’s Super Garden winner Mark Hoey, showcasing not one, but two deserving winners this year.

“Super Garden provides us with the opportunity to highlight the wide range of quality plants grown and supplied to the gardens by Irish Nurseries.”

For her exhibit, Mary Anne decided to once again draw inspiration from how a family would use their own garden and recreate the garden viewers will have seen on the programme only with slight modifications.

“I wanted to recreate the same feeling I had on the show. Some people have block walls in their garden, so I built one with the help of Greenmount. I used logs for the pillars on the side and they look fantastic because they created a woodland effect. Little things like that created enough change for Bloom but not too much that you can’t recognise it for what it was before.”

To help with all the hard work, Mary Anne had enlisted the help of her family, with her father lending her a hand with the physical building of the garden for the festival and her mother helping with the admin side of the endeavour.

“My dad flew over for May to help me and I really appreciate my stepmom for leasing him. It’s been an amazing chance for us to spend some time together. He worked so hard. He could give any landscaper a run for their money. 

“It is something we’ll never forget. It was really important for both of us. I can always think back that he made Bloom a reality for me. My mum was helping me in the background with the business side of things.”

Winning the show, however, is only the start for Mary Anne. She is passionate about helping everyday people create a space of their own and wants to show them that it doesn’t need to be complicated. 

“I can help people with the imagination side of things and empower them. Especially people who identify as women who feel that they may not have that ability within themselves.

“Things are overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. If I give them the ideas and show them how easy it can be.”

This year’s series of Super Garden is available to stream via RTE Player https://www.rte.ie/player/

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Belfast City

29 Artists Taking Part In The 2022 Belfast City Blues Festival

Running from June 24-26, the Guinness Belfast City Blues Festival will be taking place in venues across the city, coming back in full swing after a virtual event in 2020 and a successful run in 2021/22 at The Guinness Blues Café at the Deer’s Head.

The three-day festival allows for both established and budding blues artists to demonstrate their talents across 24 venues, with audiences being able to pick from almost 70 gigs across the last weekend of June.

The Belfast Blues Festival 2022 is dedicated to the late Rab McCullough, Belfast blues legend, in addition to paying tribute to two of the festival’s major contributors over the years,  Gregory “Murph The Blues Brother” McGeown and James “Jamesy” Carson. 

This year, the Blues Festival is also supporting The People’s Kitchen, a Belfast-based charity which runs a food bank, delivers food to people in need all over the city, and supplies clothes and advice to families in need and those who are homeless.

Here are the 29 artists performing over the weekend:

1. The Rev Doc & The Flying Squad

Friday 24th June – Kelly’s Cellars

3.30pm – 6.30pm | Free Admission

2. Crow Black Chicken

Friday 24th June – Black Box

8pm | Admission £13

3. The Ronnie Greer Band

Friday 24th June – Granny Annies 

4pm – 6pm | Free Admission

4. Mike Wilgar & The Crack Pot Preachers

Friday 24th June – Ulster Sports Club

4.30pm – 7pm | Free Admission

5. Kick The Bucket Blues Band

Friday 24th June – The Dirty Onion

4.30pm – 6.30pm | Free Admission

Sunday 26th June – Ulster Sports Club 

3.30pm – 6pm

6. Frank Carberry Blues Set 

Friday 24th June – 2 Taps Restaurant

4.00pm – 6.30pm | Table Bookings Essential

Saturday 25th June – St George’s Market

11.00am – 2.30pm | Free Admission

7. Speedy Mullan Blues Band 

Friday 24th June – Whites Garden

4.00pm – 6.30pm | Free Admission

Saturday 25th – The John Hewitt

3.30pm – 6pm | Free Admission

8. The Robin BiBi Band

Friday 24th – The John Hewitt

9.30pm – Late | Free Admission

Saturday 25th June – The Dirty Onion

4pm – 6.30pm | Free Admission

Saturday 25th June – Common Market

9pm – 11pm | Free Admission

Sunday 26th June – Granny Annies

4pm – 6pm | Free Admission

End Of Festival Wrap Party with Special Guests – all profits to The People’s Kitchen

Sunday 26th June – The Deer’s Head

Doors 7pm | Admission £10

9. The Unholy Gospel Band

Friday 24th June – Common Market

6.30pm – 8.30pm | Free Admission

10. Otis & The Elevators

Friday 24th June – FLAXX…Social Village

6.30pm – 9pm | Free Admission

11. The Red Hot Roosters

Saturday 25th June – Kelly’s Cellars

3.30pm – 6pm | Free Admission

The Annual Rock n Roll Party

Sunday 26th – The John Hewitt 

3pm – 6pm | Free Admission

12. The Pat McManus Band

Remembering Rory

Saturday 25th June – Black Box

Doors 1pm | Admission £14

13. Sam Davidson’s Taste

Remembering Rory

Saturday 25th June – Black Box

Doors 1pm | Admission £14

14. The Willie Byrne Band

Remembering Rory

Saturday 25th June – Black Box

Doors 1pm | Admission £14

15. Symply Skynyrd

Saturday 25th June – Black Box

Doors 8.30pm | Admission £12

16. The Rev Doc Duo

Dedicated to Rab McCullough

Saturday 25th June – Ramada By Wyndham

9pm – Late | Free Admission

17. The Chris Taplin Blues Band

Saturday 25th June – Granny Annies

4pm – 6pm | Free Admission

Saturday 25th June – 39 Gordon Street

8pm – 10.30pm | Free Admission

Sunday 26th June – The Dirty Onion

4pm – 6.30pm | Free Admission

18. Tony Villiers & The Villains

Saturday 25th June – The Deer’s Head

Doors 2pm | Admission £10

19. Backbone Blues Band

Saturday 25th June – Ulster Sports Club

4pm – 6.30pm

20. Davy Watson Solo

Saturday 25th June – 2 Taps Restaurant

4pm – 6.30pm | Table Bookings Essential

21. Ian Sands & The Blues Katz

Saturday 25th June – Whites Garden

3.30pm – 6pm | Free Admission

Sunday 26th June – 39 Gordon Street

4pm – 6.30pm | Free Admission

22. The Ronnie Greer Band Featuring Anthony Toner

Saturday 25th June – FLAXX…Social Village

4.30pm – 7pm | Free Admission

23. The Sabrejets

Sunday 26th June – Kelly’s Cellars

3.30pm – 6pm | Free Admission

24. LIGHT

Belfast’s Finest – An Afternoon With The Amazing LIGHT

Sunday 26th June – Black Box

Doors 1pm | Admission £10

25. Dom Martin & His Band

Sunday 26th June – The Deer’s Head

Doors 2pm | Admission £12

26. Brian Mc Kenna’s Swing Tribute

Sunday 26th June – St George’s Market

11.00am – 2.30pm | Free Admission

27. Terry Sharpe & Co

Sunday 26th June – 2 Taps Restaurant 

4.00pm – 6.30pm | Table Booking Essential

28. Taylor Sisk & Co

Soul R&B Review

Sunday 26th June – Whites Garden

3.30pm – 6pm | Free Admission

29. The Lee Hedley Band

Sunday 26th June – Common Market

1.30pm – 3.30pm | Free Admission
For more information, festival listings and tickets log onto belfastcitybluesfest.com or connect with the Belfast City Blues Festival official Facebook page.

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Belfast City

The Gathering Festival Hailed A Success For Sailortown Belfast

Organisers over the moon after a packed weekend

Sailortown Regeneration is celebrating after a successful Gathering festival saw the area flooded with residents, former residents and those sampling the historic area of Belfast for the first time.

The festival which took place from June 9th to 12th saw headline acts such as Brian Kennedy amongst a weekend long celebration of the dockside area focused on the rejuvenated St Joseph’s Church, which is now a community hub for Sailortown.

The four-day festival was hailed by organisers as an outstanding success, seeing the area drawing thousands of people to its venues and sampling the history that makes it unique.

“Feedback was hugely positive,” said organiser Terry McKeown, Project Manager of Sailortown Regeneration. 

“Former residents were delighted to meet up and rekindle old memories and friendships. 

“Local residents loved the vibe and positivity on their streets and especially enjoyed the boxing, bingo and the outdoor music and activities.”

From radio and TV stars Hugo Duncan and Johnny Hero to Joe Lindsay, and historical exhibitions to choral performances there was a packed programme that builds upon the iconic nature of the area, including sessions in the American Bar, the Docker’ Club, Pat’s Bar, the Flying Angel and St Joseph’s.

“Visitors ranged from many who didn’t know the area and were enthralled by the heritage and stories as well as returners who were delighted to see Salortown coming back to life,” said Terry. 

“All were extremely impressed with our progress on reopening St Joseph’s, the range and variety of activities and the revival of old Sailortown traditions.”

With a pet pageant, theatre performances, an exhibition of the boxing heritage and several trad music sessions, Terry was delighted to see so many turn out for the festival.

“At Sailortown Regeneration we are over the moon that our Gathering was such a success and was a great tribute to 150 years of St Joseph’s Parish, passing on the baton from past generations to new,” she explained. 

“We’ll have more days like this as we bring Belfast’s Maritime Heritage to wider audiences and work along with the Harbour and the Maritime Mile to reanimate the Waterfront.

“The Gathering was backed by the Maritime Trust, Belfast City Council and Arts Council NI, who supported the costs of a huge range of events and activities and look forward to furthering collaboration as we progress to a full restoration of both Church and House.”

Terry added: “The festival was an opportunity for old friends and new to gather together, relive old memories and make new ones as we recreate renowned Sailortown events such as the Blessing of the Pets, St Joseph’s Boxing Club and the lively social scene in Belfast Docks. We’re building on the past to create a future in this iconic waterfront location.”

St Joseph’s has undergone years of restoration to convert the former church to a community hub, accessible for all, and a focus for community events.

Headliner, Brian Kennedy was delighted to be part of the Gathering as an event that he relished being part of especially given the venue of St Joseph’s as a repurposed church and now a community hub.

“Churches, over the centuries, are one of the most special places to sing,” Brian said. 

“Architecturally they seem to be built for that reason. The sound quality and the height of the ceilings, lend themselves to performances.

“It was like you’re singing to the saints and angels. Before I even looked at the audience that might be here, already you have an angelic audience waiting for you. 

“I think it’s really fitting that St. Joe’s is getting a brand-new breath of life, and part of the breath of life is playing music and singing back into the walls.”

Further events are planned over the coming months, and Sailortown Regeneration looks forward to seeing many come to experience what the historic part of Belfast can offer.

Organisers wish to thank those that gave their time including Belfast City Blues Festival management team; Gerard O’Donnell, (creative designer), Tony McAllister – Patsy Quinn Gym Newington, North Belfast Men’s Shed, Belfast Harbour Police and property team, Maritime Trust staff, and the local community and businesses as well as Hazlett, Adam, Matthew, Lauren, Sinéad, Cliodhna, Conor, Alison and all those who came to Sailortown over the four days. 

They also extended thanks for all sponsorship and donations from the American Bar, Ben Madigan, Benny’s Café, the Dockers Club, Direct Wine Shipments, Fortwilliam fruit and veg, Ger O’Donnell photographer, McKenna’s Bar, Wholistic Works and Paul Carlin Hair.

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