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The team at The Graduate Restaurant at Southern Regional College in Newry who hosted the Wild West Night. Photograph: Columba O'HareThe Graduate Restaurant as part of the East Campus at the Southern Regional College in Patrick Street wouldn't immediately strike you as the perfect place to dine in style, with top quality food and an ambience to match, but as in many things in life the best gems are often the hidden ones.

The Graduate is a perfect shop window for the colleges Hospitality, Catering and Tourism students to showcase their skills as well as provide invaluable training.

The restaurant organises Themed Evenings on Tuesday nights which are open to anyone as long as you have booked. The evenings are so popular that they are completely booked out at present and your next chance to give it a try will be at the start of September when the new themed evenings are announced.

As well as these evenings the Restaurant is open lunchtime Monday to Friday at 12.30pm for a three course meal costing £7.50 and menus change daily.

This years themed evenings so far have included "A Taste of Ireland", "Little Italy", "The name is Bond" as well as "The Wild West" themed night organised by students Joanne and John attended by ourselves at

If all Restaurants were as packed on a Tuesday night there would be no recession but no wonder with the price for the entire experience (not including any drinks you order from the licensed bar) being just £16!

With the waiting staff and management all dressed in their cowboy and cowgirl gear and the country music flowing I was just waiting for Buffalo Bill to park his horse in the Sports Centre Car park next door (clampers permitting) but fortunately or unfortunately the only Buffalo was on the plate!

The Seven Course meal started with a Choux Paste bun Canapé with dill cream cheese and smoked salmon, a most beautiful creation. 

Being adventurous I opted for a Starter of Ravioli of Lobster and Crab with chive cream and lobster foam, a most delicious starter.

The Velouté of potato and leek soup and cayenne puff straw followed, steaming hot and full of flavour. Together with the garlic and cheese bread it went down a treat.

A Sorbet of iced apple and raspberry followed to stimulate the palate for my main course.

Four main courses included a meat feast, supreme of chicken, sesame and herb hake and Chicken Pappadelle! I opted for the Roasted chestnut and chicken Pappadelle with basil pesto oil, which came with strips of pasta coated in a delicious light sauce that enhanced the chicken and crunchy chestnut. This was complimented with Sauté potatoes, Ratatouille and buttered carrots and green beans. The range of flavours I could only begin to describe.

With not a crumb left on the plate a dessert of Cinnamon coated choux, pineapple and banana fritters with butterscotch sauce and honeycomb ice cream was the final nail that sent me well on the way to food heaven … and weighing scales hell! Tea and petit fours finished off the meal, the end of a wonderful night.

I can safely say it is a long time since every single course I had in a meal was exceptional but this time they definitely were.

To enquire about a Reservation for lunchtime or when September comes around for the Themed evenings you can contact Karen Cosgrove at 028 3025 9713 or email

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The Black North
The Black North

“Much of what manhood lives in Newry may be seen in long wretched lines beside the market place, week after week, reporting at “the burro” - fully half Newry’s able-bodied men live on the bureau, the dole. Some folks from this depressed area get employment in thriving Dundalk, just 13 miles distant across Killeavy moor and over the Border - several omnibus loads go to and fro every day. So is the pride of Newry fallen !”

This is a description of Newry in 1938!

No matter how anyone views Newry now I think we have certainly improved a bit!

The book is called The Black North and it’s by Aodh DeBlácam (Roddy the Rover).

It was published in 1938 and the book is described as “An account of the six counties of unrecovered Ireland, their people, their treasures and their history” and the foreword is by Éamon De Valéra - so no political undertones at all!!!

It has a very interesting section on John Mitchel detailing his life at great length and also mentions that in Johathan Swifts day Newry was second only to Derry city in size and importance in the north.

Oh how things change …

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Not long back from a beautiful walk on the new greenway walk between Omeath and Carlingford. I know it's open quite a while at this stage but this is the first I've been on it.

Walking towards Slieve Foye. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Walking towards Slieve Foye. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Don’t know if it was the weather but the chat on the way was great. I think it’s more likely that the locals are so proud of their new facility and they are more than willing to share their enthusiasm!

It’s a really fantastic dander mostly along the shore of Carlingford Lough and is already proving extremely popular with cyclists and walkers. The views of Carlingford Lough and Slieve Foye and across to the Mournes must make it one of the most attractive strolls in the country.

The Calvary at Omeath. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
The Calvary at Omeath. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

The path has really opened up the Calvary at Omeath, creating another access point to the final resting place of Fr Gentili who’s coffin sits on display in the new chapel there.

Looking forward to the time in the not too distant future when the facility continues all the way to Newry. What an attraction that will be.

Beautiful scenery on the new Omeath Carlingford greenway. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Beautiful scenery on the new Omeath Carlingford greenway. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Cycle or walk all the way from Lough Neagh if you wish to Carlingford via good old Newry. The times they really are a changing.

It’s apparently just a matter of time and funding so hopefully it won’t be more than a couple of years.

In the meantime please try and give extra space to cyclists on the Newry Omeath road, one of the least safe roads in Ireland a cyclist can take. Unfortunately though at present if you want to cycle to Carlingford or Omeath, you don’t have any choice in the matter.

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I remember years ago when I was at St Pauls there always was stories going around about satanic rituals and Black Magic happening in Derrymore Woods and lights appearing in windows of derelict houses etc.

Derrymore Woods. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Derrymore Woods. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Well the weekend's Sunday Times has maybe helped put pay to the "legitimacy" of these alleged happenings!

Apparently the British Army had a "Black Operations" department where they deliberately circulated these stories in an attempt to dissuade people from going out after dark and keeping them away from derelict buildings where the IRA etc might have met.

They even set up mock ritual sites with upside down crosses and stone altars, even going to the trouble of coating a knife in animal blood from an army kitchen.

Of course us locals would then come across it and report it to our friends and then the papers would get a hold of it and by then of course we all believed every word was true. They even wrote to the same newspapers pretending to be concerned locals worried about the rise of occult happenings in the area.

The saying, you should never believe everything you hear has never been truer!

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A Newry Blog

While measures to help increase safety on the A1 Dual Carriageway between Newry and Sprucefield are on-going it’s safe to say that the overall structure of the road in many places is literally an accident waiting to happen.

A1 Road Sign
A1 Road Sign

In the short term finding a way to remove all non essential central reservation crossing points would contribute greatly to safety on the A1. Ideally though a motorway infrastructure is needed.

Of course non-essential crossings are open to interpretation. An example would be the right turn off for Loughbrickland coming from Belfast! Is this essential saying there is an underpass several hundred metres up the road where you don’t have to try and cross the fastest part of the road?

I did a count of the number of access points between Sprucefield and Sheepbridge. You can access from one side to the other via the central reservation well over 100 times. Granted a lot of these are tracks opposite a gate into a field or yard and not used all the time, but then again you really don’t want to meet a tractor and trailer in the fast lane as it tries to cross!

Coming from Dublin you are travelling at Motorway speeds all the way to just past Sheepbridge before you see a central reservation crossing!

The Roads Service have a plan for the Eastern Seaboard Corridor A1 Junctions Phase Two that would see the central reservation closed as far as Loughbrickland but doesn’t include the stretch from Loughbrickland to Sheepbridge! At present it is subject to funding and could be many years before it happens if it ever does.

We really do need to get campaigning, keep tackling your local MP, MLA, Councillor and ask them to push for improvement on your behalf.

Statistically it doesn’t represent the greatest risk with 4 fatalities out of the 70 in the Province so far this year on Motorway/ Dual Carriageway but with increasing traffic it will become an more pressing issue as time goes on if something isn’t done.

While the A1 isn’t the greatest danger area, 2014 road traffic collision statistics are grim reading for us folk in E District (Newry and Mourne, Banbridge, Armagh and Craigavon) 18 fatalities already this year in E District with a massive 11 of these in Newry and Mourne alone!

The message is - When you are on the roads, Drive Safely, expect the unexpected and show care and courtesy for other road users. 

Download this file (a1 junctions phase ii .pdf)a1 junctions phase ii .pdf[Road Services - A1 Junctions Phase 2]184 kB
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Wednesday was International Women's Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

Perhaps a few sculptors should have been out around Newry on the day!

Sure the Newry Docker would love a bit of female company. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
I'm sure the Newry Docker would love a bit of female company. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Is there no famous Newry women?

If the wonderful solid (and manly) sculptures we see around the city are anything to go by, there mustn't be! At present the only woman represented is the Virgin Mary and as far as I know she wasn't FROM Newry!

.John Mitchel may have had to wait around a few years for company but it seems this last while that almost every year that goes by another one arrives to join the 'exclusive' mans club - The Newry Navvy and The Newry Docker were quickly followed by The Newry Cyclist - aka Patrick Rankin and who know's, the next guy could be on his way.

In the interest of the 'truth' I Googled "Famous Newry Men" and found almost Six Million but when I tried "Famous Newry Women" things have whittled down to just over Two Hundred Thousand results but surely in that not insignificant number we could find just one to spend a few thousand on to immortalise in Bronze?


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The saga of the dead Porpoise in the Clanrye River in Newry continues with the revelation that it could be classified as a 'Royal Fish' thus making the mammal "personal property of the monarch of the United Kingdom as part of his or her royal prerogative." The law was enacted by Edward the Second in the 14th Century.

The Porpoise stranded at the side of the Clanrye River in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
The Porpoise stranded at the side of the Clanrye River in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

You couldn't make it up. In fact if it was April Fools day, it could have been a right ripping yarn. Whether the unfortunate Porpoise recognised itself as Irish or British or what coastline it swam up could be crucial in deciding if the royal prerogative applies.

Other royal fish include whales and sturgeons. According to Wikipedia "the king owns the head of the whale, the queen owns the tail" but whether this applies to Porpoises is anyones guess.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary a Royal Fish is "A whale, porpoise, or sturgeon caught near the British coast or cast ashore there. In these circumstances they belong to the Crown or, in the Duchy of Cornwall, to the Prince of Wales."

At present the list of authorities NOT responsible for removing the poor Porpoise lengthens and as yet no one has taken responsibility to remove it from it's watery grave in the Clanrye River. Perhaps Queen Elizabeth herself will take a trip over to claim it.

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The end of roaming charges within the EU has to be welcomed bringing to an end at long last the guessing game of how much you were paying to call home or the Spanish restaurant down the street. From last week if you are abroad or down the road in County Louth or even in Warrenpoint/ Kilkeel picking up the Irish mobile networks, you don’t have to worry about being charged more than you were at home.

In fact if you are in Warrenpoint on an Irish network you now have the added luxury of phoning anywhere in the EU as part of your plan with no extra charges if texts and calls are included in your pay monthly or pay as you go plan!

It’s easy to forget though that phoning south of the border from Newry with a UK mobile provider will still cost you and in some cases cost you dearly. A ten minute call from Newry to Dundalk from a Vodafone pay monthly contract phone without any add-ons will cost you a whopping £15. It’s actually cheaper to ring from a Vodafone Pay as You Go contract!

To avoid these charges you need to purchase an add on from your network, adding to the monthly cost of your contract.

Pointing out that these regulations apply to roaming charges and not calling charges Mickey Brady MP stressed that border communities will “still suffer” as calls and texting are still classed as international. 

 “Indeed there are still many issues that need addressed island wide ahead of Brexit, although it is the border areas that have faced unfair charges and penalties for far too long. Once again border communities will still suffer.

“Customers should check with their network provider to ensure they are not caught out and to understand what deal they have with their provider”.

MLA Cathal Boylan also warned customers to watch out for unexpected costs but  praised the implementation of the EU directive in which all the networks must now allow customers to use their inclusive minutes, and data within the EU at no additional costs. 

Branding this as a victory for consumers, particularly those plagued with roaming charges in our border communities, Boylan also warned of hidden costs. 

He said “I am pleased that roaming charges have finally been eliminated. It has been a long process and I pay tribute to our MEPs who have been fighting hard to bring about the end of such charges. Sinn Féin through our European and domestic representatives been campaigning for the abolition of roaming charges for over 10 years. 

“It is regrettable it has taken this long. Roaming charges have been a continuous probnlem for the thousands living and travelling along the border.  It is equally regrettable that this legislation may no longer apply to us after 2019 with our subsequent removal from the European Union."


Mobile Network Costs to Phone other EU Countries from UK

Tesco Mobile: Phone (Landline or Mobile): 25p per minute Text: 20p
Three: Phone (Landline or Mobile): 46p per minute Text: 25.2p
EE: Phone (Landline or Mobile): 50p per minute Text: 35p
Virgin Mobile: Phone (Landline or Mobile): 60p per minute Text: 30p
O2: Phone (Landline or Mobile): 65p per minute Text: 35p
Vodafone: Phone (Landline or Mobile): 1.50p per minute Text: 35p

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There are a wealth of old sayings from around the Newry area and the many little townlands that are scattered through counties Armagh and Down that are in danger of being lost forever. Lissummon, Tullyherron, Tullywhinney, Bavan, Kegal, Lisdrumchor, all would have had their unique ways of putting things!

Such sayings were said as a matter of course by our parents and grandparents, sayings that you no longer would hear in this modern 21st century super sophisticated world.

Do you remember the sayings of your parents and grandparents?
Do you remember the sayings of your parents and grandparents?

For example when a child would have exasperated a parent instead of "Go to Hell", in our house it was "Go to Blue Blazes" or the really multicultural "Go to Hong Kong"

Another one mum would have said was "Bad zest to your auld picture" an expression that I'm not sure of the meaning but it would have come out of frustration at perhaps not being able to get the thread in the needle or such like.

Another "If you're going GO!" for those hesitant types that might just not have made it to the shop before closing time.or the ever true "Pride comes before a fall" when inevitably something you did that pleased you so much ending up causing more trouble than it was worth.

Feel free to add your own family favourites from when you were growing up, and we might just get a list made up! If you'r not on Facebook email us them to


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