Best Of Belfast: Northern Ireland's #1 Interview Podcast

Matthew Thompson

Home of the Titanic, Game Of Thrones, George Best and countless other local legends with untold stories... Best Of Belfast seeks to tell the story of the new Belfast emerging focusing on the incredible people who call this city home.

From market traders to entrepreneurs, street artists to food truck chefs this podcast will give you a flavour of what Belfast is all about.

All Episodes

Scott has never seen The Prince Of Egypt. Matt grew up watching it.  In this episode, the lads take an esoteric adventure through the trippy, complicated, star-studded, Oscar-winning 1998 animated cult-classic "kids-movie" musical all about Meek Moses leading the people of Israel through the Red Sea. Check it out.  https://bestofbelfast/stories/prince-of-egypt  

Nov 29

3 hr 10 min

Nadia Sayers is a professional model and Miss Universe Ireland 2020. She's also a passionate mental health advocate, speaker and educator with a Masters in Psychology.   After facing her own battles with depression and anxiety, Nadia went on to work in suicide prevention for six years before taking on her current role as Youth Development Manager at Hope 4 Life NI.   Her day job now involves going into schools across Northern Ireland with the Uberheroes Programme: an initiative that uses comic books to empower young people with the tools they need to take control of their mental health.   (P.S. These comics are based on real-life stories of kids from NI and are co-created with Marvel and DC illustrators!)   In today's episode we talk about: Reconnecting with your inner-child The difference between anxiety and depression Nadia's own encounter with suicide Her unexpected beauty pageant journey And the incredible results Uberheroes comic books have had on the lives of kids right here on our doorstep. Check it out! P.S. Here's a pageant podcast Nadia recommends :)   //   https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/nadia-sayers-uberheroes  

Nov 22

1 hr 4 min

Francesca Morelli is the Enterprise Development Officer at QUBSU and Co-Founder of VAVA Influence: Northern Ireland’s first dedicated Influencer Marketing Agency.   After growing up as part of the Morelli Ice Cream family, Fran began forging her own path in the world of tech start-ups by spending a year working in Paris before moving back home to start her own business.   In today’s conversation we talk about: The incredible history of the Morelli family How living abroad isn’t always as glamorous as it looks Why influencer marketing is the future And the challenges/successes Fran’s faced on the journey so far.    Check it out!   https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/francesca-morelli-vava-influence

Nov 15

53 min 32 sec

Roger Woodend is the Director of Strategic Sales at Amazon Web Services (AWS).   He was born in Belfast in 1975 and was raised in a council-estate in Coleraine before eventually leaving NI to study Politics in Glasgow.    Since then he’s lived and worked all over the world for telecom titans, tech-startups and even found the time to do an MBA before taking up his current role with Amazon today.   In today’s episode we talk about: Losing his dad at a young age How visiting Hong Kong changed his life Why he set up the New York City Northern Ireland Football Supporters Club Having dinner with the Australian Prime Minister And why the Harbour Bar in Portrush is his favourite place in the world.   Check it out.   https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/roger-woodend-amazon-aws

Nov 8

1 hr

***Experimental Episode*** So as you know we've been playing around with some different formats over the last year that differ from our typical 'life story' styled interviews — and today's episode is probably our weirdest and wonderful-est one yet. The idea was to catch up with Wim Hof Instructor, Health & Wellness expert, recent podcaster and now three-time Best Of Belfaster Scott Riley to talk about the things we do to keep ourselves physically and mentally well during winter. What ended up happening was a two-hour conversation about the self, Moses and the burning bush, wisdom teeth, hygge, inner soul jars and healthy forms of suffering. Without a doubt, this episode isn't for everything, but if you enjoy listening to two mates grapple with the impossible parts of life together then this one might be exactly what the doctor ordered. Thanks so much as always and I look forward to catching you again on Monday for our regularly scheduled program. — Matt

Nov 1

2 hr 2 min

Kerri McCrea studied zoology at Queen's before moving to Thailand in 2013.    Since then, she and her Thai-Karen husband Sombat have set up their own elephant project called Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary which works with local communities to bring elephants home to the forest and away from a life of work in the tourism industry.   In today’s episode we talk about: Kerri’s love for animals from a young age The career path of a Zoologist Why she moved to Thailand to set up an elephant sanctuary What it like living in a hill-tribe village The impact COVID has had on the ‘elephant industry’ And the greatest challenges/successes she’s faced along the way   Check it out!   https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/kerri-mccrea-kindred-spirit-elephant-sanctuary

Oct 25

46 min 31 sec

Chris Suitor is a tailor, entrepreneur, DJ, Speaker, Father, Husband and — most recently, barista — from Belfast, Northern Ireland.   In today’s show we talk about: Buying a cottage in Donegal How he took a family business to new heights Starting a coffee truck  How he plans on opening 10 cafes in 2 years Managing screen time And being an egotistical utilitarian (???)   Check it out.   https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/chris-suitor-bros

Oct 18

1 hr 50 min

Welcome to Sport Inspires, a podcast recorded with the Mary Peters Trust and made possible by the Coca-cola Thank you Fund.   Today’s episode is with Olympic hockey stars Stephen Martin and Jimmy Kirkwood who both won gold medals with Team GB in the 1988 Summer Games.   In this conversation myself and Lady Mary Peters talk with them about: Their once in a lifetime experiences in Korea The strangest doors their medals have opened for them And why they think no one from Northern Ireland has won gold in the summer games ever since.    Thanks so much for being here and we really hope you enjoy.    https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/olympic-gold-medals-northern-ireland

Oct 11

58 min 39 sec

Bill Neely is a three-time BAFTA and Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist with over 40 years of experience, most recently as NBC’s Chief Global Correspondent.    He’s also a triathlon runner and the recent recipient of the highly esteemed Queens University Graduate Of The Year Award.    In today’s conversation we chat about: How he got into journalism The craziest moments he’s experienced while reporting around the world (Including getting arrested in a US Presidential Campaign, carrying a national beauty queen to safety in Eastern Europe and narrowly escaping death in Afghanistan).  And why telling the truth is so important when dealing with real-life stories    Check it out.     https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/bill-neely-broadcast-journalist  

Oct 4

1 hr 7 min

Emma Mcilroy is the Co-founder and CEO of Wildfang: a clothing brand based in Portland Oregon whose mission is to rethink gender norms and how they show up in fashion.    (She’s also proudly Norn Irish).   In today’s episode we talk about: Finding a pre-historic fossil as a kid Landing dream jobs with the Premier League and Nike The big problems she noticed in the fashion industry (why she started Wildfang) And the ridiculous entrepreneurial rollercoaster she’s been on over the last few years   Check it out.   https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/emma-mcilroy-wildfang

Sep 27

55 min 58 sec

Welcome to Sport Inspires, a podcast recorded with the Mary Peters Trust and made possible by the Coca-cola Thank You Fund. Today’s episode is with Northern Ireland Women’s Football Captain Marissa Callaghan, who led the team to their first-ever major tournament qualifier last year in a historic match against Ukraine.   The conversation you’re about to hear was very kindly hosted by Nicola McCarthy and touches on Where Marissa’s love for the game came from The journey that's led to women’s football being put on the map in such a historic way And how Marissa and the team are preparing for the biggest tournament of their lives in 2022.    Thanks so much for being here and we really hope you enjoy.   https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/marissa-callaghan-northern-ireland-football  

Sep 20

43 min 25 sec

Joe Magowan is an Irish Whiskey Expert from Belfast who spends his days educating people all over the world about "the water of life." In this episode we talk about: Growing up working in The Vineyard How he became Brand Ambassador for Powers The history of Irish Whiskey What "the angel share" is And his most significant memories throughout his life We also sample some Powers during the show (including one of the best Irish coffees I've ever had) to draw out some of the key tasting notes and stories connected to the brand.  Check it out.  [P.S. For the full information about the Irish Coffee Competition, please click here]. // https://bestofbelfast.org/joe-magowan-powers-whiskey  

Sep 13

1 hr 15 min

[Please note that some of the financial figures have been censored from this episode] This time last year, Ciaran Gillen was working on a laptop in Ormeau Baths trying to get his new start-up "tinder-for-tractors" off the ground. Today, Machinery Partner is an industry-changing business that's raised a record-breaking $4.5 million of investment. It works by connecting small business owners with the exact machines they need to increase profits and get the job done.  In today's episode, we talk to Ciaran about: Having beers with Johnny Depp Opening for motorhead Working as a bouncer in London Starting Machinery Partner The decision to take investment How he plans on creating Northern Ireland's first unicorn Check it out. https://bestofbelfast.org/ciaran-gillen-machinery-partner      

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Sep 6

57 min 17 sec

Michael McKillop is a four-time Paralympic Gold-Medalist who currently holds the world record for the 800m and 1500m races.   In today’s episode, Matthew Thompson and Lady Mary Peters talk with Michael about: What it was like being coached by his father at a young age His current journey to the Tokyo 2020 Games  And how he’s dealt with cerebral palsy and mental health challenges along the way.   Thanks so much for being here and we really hope you enjoy.    //   Webpage: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/michael-mckillop-paralympic-gold-medalist  

Aug 30

48 min 10 sec

Neville Isdell is the former global CEO and Chairman of The Coca-Cola Company.   Originally born in Downpatrick, Neville has lived and worked in over 11 countries around the world, “taking on jobs nobody else wanted to take” and “cleaning up messes no one else wanted to own.”   He spent his life battling Pepsi, leading through empathy and rising up the company ranks before retiring to Barbados at 60, only to receive a phone call a few months later asking him to return to the company as CEO and chair… a challenge that he said yes to.    In today’s conversation we talk about: Why his family moved to Africa when he was a boy Lessons learned from a lifetime of leadership What's he's setting his sight on as 80 approaches And how a lad from Northern Ireland ended up in the driver's seat of one of the largest companies on the planet.    Check it out.    https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/neville-isdell-coca-cola-ceo-chairman

Aug 23

1 hr 10 min

Nick Patterson is a freelance photographer based in Ormeau Baths.   Over the course of his career, he's shot celebrities, worked with some of the biggest businesses on the planet and seen an entire industry transform.   (From developing photos in lightrooms, to handling the first digital camera in Northern Ireland, to taking the world's first 8K portrait time-lapse).   In today's episode we talk about: Skateboarding around Bangor as a teen Setting up his own business Saving lives through photography And the greatest challenges/successes he's faced along the way.   Check it out.   // Webpage: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/nick-patterson-freelance-photographer  

Aug 16

58 min 1 sec

Tony McGaharan is a People Development Expert who has experience working with some of the biggest businesses on the planet.    (While also being a fully qualified Coach — both on and off the basketball court).   Last year — at the height of the pandemic — he founded People Playbook, a learning consultancy focused on wellbeing that helps organisations achieve their goals through learning, leadership and team development. In this episode we talk about: Growing up in The Holylands Taking a bullet to the leg Coaching professional basketball in Sweden Working with Google Running a virtual pub quiz for 60 weeks straight How practice doesn't make perfect And why he branched out on his own to start People Playbook at the best/worst time imaginable.   Check it out!   // Webpage: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/tony-mcgaharan-people-playbook

Aug 9

1 hr 18 min

Napoleon is an independent speciality coffee shop in Ormeau Baths that opened in August 2020 at the height of the pandemic.   Since then it has become a leading cafe in Northern Ireland’s burgeoning speciality scene with their “front-and-centre” approach to coffee attracting a loyal team of regulars from across the nation.    Founded by superstar Barista-Manager extraordinaire Rachel Snowden and Data Scientist Matthew Mcauley, Napoleon is the realisation of a lifelong dream of owning their own cafe and the result of seven years of scheming, planning and drinking lots of coffee!   In this today’s episode we talk about: Matt’s recent realisation about his brain as well as his unexpected PhD in Physics What it was like opening a cafe during the height of the pandemic How the reality of seeing their dream fulfilled compared to their expectations And the greatest highs/lows of their first year of business…   Check it out!   https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/napoleon-coffee-rachel-snowden-matthew-mcauley

Aug 2

1 hr 3 min

Adrian Balfour is the founder of Envorso, a US consulting firm based in Seattle that has worked with the likes of Ford and Microsoft.     He’s also an organic sheep farmer, Angel Investor, co-founder of the Major League Rugby and founder of the Seattle Seawolves, a US rugby team coached by Allen Clarke and Rory Best.     Previously he created Pcubed, a project management consultancy he grew to 1000+ consultants before selling it in 2013.     In today’s show we talk about:   Growing up in Fermanagh Moving to Detroit to start a business Bringing Rugby culture to the states And the greatest challenges/successes along the way     Check it out.     //   Webpage for this episode: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/adrian-balfour-seattle-seawolves

Jul 26

46 min 16 sec

Welcome to Sport Inspires, a podcast recorded with the Mary Peters Trust and made possible by the Coca-cola Thank you Fund.    Today’s episode is with legendary two-weight world champion boxer Carl Frampton who’s recently retired from the sport just a few months ago.    Along the way Thomas Kane and Gold Medalist Lady Mary Peters ask Carl about : How retirement has been treating him What he plans on doing next And some of the lessons he’s learned from the highs and lows of an incredible career   Thanks so much for being here and we really hope you enjoy.

Jul 19

40 min 18 sec

Nico van der Horst is the founder of Pride & Pinion: Ireland’s only dedicated luxury watch boutique.   Over the last four years, Nico and the team have sourced and sold countless luxury watches for celebrities, collectors, investors and everyday people alike.    During lockdown, he and the team started posting videos under the name Nico Leonard — which in just one year has become the largest watch social media presence on the planet with 100’s of millions of hits across YouTube, TikTok and BiliBili (China’s YouTube).     In today’s episode we cover: Nico’s origin story (moving from the Netherlands to Northern Ireland) Why family and legacy matter so much to him How failure and dark days have led to his success today And the greatest challenges/successes he’s experienced along the way.   This is a heartfelt conversation with someone I’ve known and admired for a long time and without a doubt one of the best interviews we’ve ever shared.   Throughout all he’s faced, Nico’s determination and passion to give back to Northern Ireland and put Belfast on the map make him one of our unsung heroes and Belfast’s best-kept secret.   Check it out.    https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/pride-and-pinion-nico-leonard-van-der-horst

Jul 12

1 hr 14 min

Hiya folks. Got another experimental episode for you today — a new segment called 'Three Beers, Three Books' where we bring back two previous guests to chat about their favourite books while trying out a few local beers.   To get the ball rolling we asked back James Leckey from Leckey Design and Greg Bradley from BLK BOX.    Throw in a few Heaney Craft Beers and the result is a far-reaching conversation about business, psychology, cooking and cold plunges.   Enjoy!   //   Books featured in this episode: 1. Traction 2. The Drama Triangle 3. Jamie Oliver's 5 Ingredients, The Alchemist and The Hard Thing About Hard Things   // https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/three-beers-three-books-james-leckey-greg-bradley    

Jul 5

1 hr 21 min

Mícheál O'Rourke is a Psychotherapist from Newry who moved out to Canada with his partner Leah in 2014.   He currently works for the University Health Network in Toronto, serving on the leadership team for their mental health programs. In his free time he’s also heavily involved in the Irish Canadian Immigration Centre.   In today’s episode we cover: What brought Mícheál out to Canada The importance of “keystone habits” for good mental health And the greatest challenges/successes he’s faced along the way   Check it out   https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/micheal-orourke-psychotherapist

Jun 28

49 min 6 sec

Connie Hunter-Jamison is a partner at StudioStereo, a multi-disciplinary design firm based in East Belfast which she co-founded with her late husband Craig in 2008.    Some of her clients include: Madlug Van Morrision Belfast Whiskey Club And many, many more…   From hot chocolate start-ups to multi-million-pound tech companies, Connie’s day-to-day is spent helping people communicate more effectively what it is they do well.    Her approach to branding is informed by her background as a photographer but draws equally on her broad artistic palate and principled approach to visual communication.    In today’s conversation we chat about: Starting a business during the 2008 recession Dealing with grief and loss at such a young age The importance of moving forward (rather than moving on) And the greatest successes she’s experienced along the way   Check it out.    //   Webpage for this episode: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/connie-hunter-jamison-studio-stereo   //   What's One Thing Most People Don't Know About You? I once got into a load of trouble in school for selling my free school dinner tickets.   What's Your Favourite Book? Ok this is not a very satisfying answer…but 90% of the books I’ve read in the last decade (or more specifically since having kids) I haven’t finished. I have a real issue with “taking time for myself”, and as reading is such a solitary activity that requires extraction from activity/“doing” it always gets bumped down my list until I realise it’s been 6 months and I’m still only on chapter 3. I guess that’s why I listen to a lot of podcasts…?! I need to commit to audiobooks, up my game. So picking a favourite feels like an exercise in pretence, because I probably haven’t read a book in years that’s really blown me away, but that’s more to do with my own crappy attitude. Plenty of classics in my “have read” list, but naming any of them just feels wanky because I don’t cite them as having had a profound impact on me. I still think writing literature is one of the highest art forms, though. I’d just struggle to pick “the one”. Basically I’m a very tormented lover of literature who barely reads. I’m also a tormented artist who rarely paints. And a tormented musician who can’t play any instruments *facepalm*...can of worms much? Ha!   What's Your Favourite Quote? I saw an Oliver Jeffers keynote speech this year at the Adobe conference (perks of Covid, it was all remote)—and I'm paraphrasing, but the basic thrust of it was "everyone's just making it up as they go along, no one has a clue what they're doing". I love reflecting on that, and I come back to it all the time. It's true, right?   Show notes: Santa Ponsa is a coastal town in Western Majorica Don Draper Pitching The Carousel Don Draper telling Peggy to move forward

Jun 21

1 hr 15 min

Welcome to Sport Inspires, a podcast recorded with the Mary Peters Trust and made possible by the Coca-cola Thank you Fund.    Today’s episode is with Irish Hockey Captain Katie Mullan, the Coleraine player leading the team to their first-ever Olympic Games.   Along the way myself and Gold Medalist Lady Mary Peters ask about : The role team spirit has played in their success What it was like to win a silver medal in the world cup while being ranked 15th And how they’ve been training through lockdown to become the first women’s team in history to take home an Olympic medal in just a few weeks times.   Thanks so much for being here and we really hope you enjoy.   //   Webpage for this episode: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/katie-mullan-ireland-hockey

Jun 14

41 min 53 sec

  Pamela and Richard Lilburn are the owners of Brookvale Farm, a 100-year old family farm that has been taking County Down by storm after they installed a milk vending machine just a few months ago.   It’s where I get my milk, it’s the best milk I’ve ever tasted in Northern Ireland if you like a bit of nostalgia,  it even comes in a reusable glass bottle, which you can come back to the farm and fill-up yourself with either creamy whole milk or a wide-range of Brookvale milkshakes from their vending machine.    The most fun part about their farm is that they’ve opened it up to the general public, so you can go and visit the cows, calves and Mr T the horse with your friends and family while you fill-up.   In today’s episode we talk about: How an accountant ended up marrying a dairy farmer Why store-bought milk "isn't really milk" And what happens when 1000’s of people start queuing outside your house for milk!   Check it out.   // Webpage for this episode: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/brookvale-farm-milk-vending-machine  

Jun 7

57 min 51 sec

How is Northern Ireland tackling the climate challenge? What are some of the things we can do to help? And why should we even care in the first place?   In today’s episode, we catch up with our panel of experts to discuss the role businesses should play in tackling climate change and how you and I can prepare for the economy of the future.   The voices featured in this discussion include: Belfast City Council’s Sustainable Development Lead Clare McKeown Queens University’s Professor of Green Political Economy John Barry  Ulster Bank’s Regional Director Of Entrepreneurship Lynsey Cunningham   Along the way, we chat about where each of our panellist's individual passion for the environment came from, what Northern Ireland is doing well, and how we could do even better.    Check it out.  //   Webpage for this episode: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/northern-ireland-climate-change-panel //

Jun 4

41 min 4 sec

Christine Boyle is the CEO of Senergy, a Belfast-based business bringing the world’s first nanocomposite solar thermal panels to market later this year.   Not only is their technology is 50% cheaper and 3-4 times more efficient than other solar options, but they’ve also raised £1.7 million of investment while still retaining 96% ownership (!)   In today’s episode we talk about: Christine’s early education working in her dad’s roofing business  The challenges and limitations of traditional solar panels And how she’s handled the highs and lows of start-up life   Check it out.   //   Webpage for this episode: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/christine-boyle-senergy //

Jun 3

27 min 28 sec

Dr Lucy Tallents is a wildlife conservationist who spent 10 years teaching at Oxford University before launching her environmental e-learning start-up VerdantLearn.   After spending many years in the field herself, Lucy’s next adventure is to empower wildlife conservation professionals around the world through VerdantLearn’s collaborative online learning platform.    In today’s episode we talk about: Her time spent living up the Ethiopian mountains to study wolves What the biodiversity crisis is and why it matters And what it was like transitioning from the academic world to the entrepreneurial rollercoaster!   Check it out.    // Webpage for this episode: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/lucy-tallents-verdantlearn //

Jun 2

53 min 21 sec

Stephen Dunn describes himself as “just an ordinary guy” — despite cycling the entire length of Ireland, running marathons and becoming the first environmental consultant in Northern Ireland.   After the success of his first business SDS Energy, Stephen and his co-founder Brian have created a new start-up called CarbonFIT: whose sole purpose is to help businesses reduce their Carbon Footprint.   (Which is more important than ever now that the government is introducing a Carbon Tax!)   In today’s episode we talk about: How he went from washing pots to becoming a CEO ‘Green bling’ versus ‘actually making a change’ Why he got into Carbon Reduction before it was cool And… what carbon actually is— and why it matters!   Check it out.    // Webpage for this episode: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/stephen-dunn-carbonFIT //

Jun 1

39 min 2 sec

Blayne Shaw is an entrepreneur who worked in his family’s fashion business. Toyah Warnock is a Chemistry PhD who worked in a lab.    Now they’re co-founders of Lane44: an eco-friendly shaving company who are on a mission to end the 1 billion plastic razors sent to landfill sites each year.   In today’s episode we talk about: How the humble yet might safety razor is better for your skin and planet The mad whirlwind of e-commerce and influencer marketing during COVID And why your bathroom is the least environmentally friendly room in your house.   Check it out!   //   Webpage for this episode: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/lane44-eco-friendly-razor //

May 31

32 min 4 sec

Hey folks. Hope you’re doing well.   Just hopping on to give you a quick heads up about an exciting new mini-series we’re rolling out next week…   ‘Climate Of Change’ is a five-part podcast series presented in partnership with Ulster Bank featuring Northern Irish start-ups who are tackling the climate challenge.    Each episode is an opportunity to discover the incredible individuals on our doorstep doing their bit for planet earth and building great businesses along the way.   Dropping a short 30-minute (ish!) episode every day next week Monday-Friday and wrapping the week up with a panel discussion featuring local experts for World Environment Day.   Stay tuned to hear from Animal Conservationists, renewable energy entrepreneurs, solar panel start-ups and even an eco-friendly shaving company…   Thanks so much as always and really hope you enjoy!    — Matt

May 26

4 min 51 sec

Chris Gunning is the Finance Transformation Service lead at Heineken in Amsterdam where he has been living with his family over the last 20 years.     Starting off back in Belfast with an Accountancy Degree from Queens, he’s since lived and worked all over the world on every continent — except Antarctica — for Global Tech Companies, Automotive businesses and now one of the biggest beer brands in the world.     Chris is also: A self-confessed metal-head An avid-kayaker And the most James Bond-like accountant, I’ve ever met in my life.     In today’s show, we hear stories about growing up in Belfast in the ’70s, working under the supervision of armed guards in Pakistan and being whisked out of an unnamed South American country after he and his team discovered something they shouldn’t have…     Check it out.   //   Webpage for this episode: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/chris-gunning-heineken

May 24

1 hr

Anna and Carl Isaksson are the founders of Hotbox: Northern Ireland’s first ever beach sauna experience.   The idea is simple yet utterly genius: what if after a cold plunge in the sea you could cosy into a sauna to sweat it out with your nearest and dearest?   In today's episode we talk about: Working for and kissing kings How a gal from NI ended up marrying a Swedish guy Why they set-up a mobile sauna business And the biggest successes/challenges they've faced along the way.   Check it out!   //   HotBox is an authentic Finnish wood-burning sauna located primarily at Benone Beach on the Causeway Coast and you can book your own hot slot over at their website hotboxseasauna.com   //   Webpage for this episode: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/hotbox-sea-sauna-northern-ireland

May 17

56 min 56 sec

Hello and welcome to the Sport Inspires Podcast — a new series in collaboration with The Mary Peters Trust and the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund.     Each episode will give you the chance to listen in on conversations with Northern Ireland’s incredible sports men and women on the topics of performance, mental health and life after sport.     Our first episode is a double-whammy, featuring a conversation with Gold-Medalist Lady Mary Peters and an interview with 21-year-old Gymnast Rhys McClenaghan who is competing in his first Olympic Games this summer.      Really hope you enjoy!   //   New episodes in this series will go out every 2nd Monday on the Best Of Belfast platform and will feature the wide range of talent and personalities competing at the highest level of their given sport.   Special thanks to Stephen Watson who kindly hosted the Rhys interview featured in this episode.   //   Webpage for this episode: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/mary-peter-rhys-mcclenaghan    

May 10

45 min 9 sec

Ian Browne is an entrepreneur, fellow-Ormeau Baths resident and COO of the Ignite Accelerator Program.   He’s spent time in San Francisco, helped launch hundreds of start-ups and has experience building and selling his own.    In this week’s episode we talk about: Riding a horse across Cuba Quitting a job to start his own business The start-up ecosystem in Northern Ireland And the greatest challenges/successes along the way   Check it out.   //   https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/ian-browne-ignite-accelerator  

May 3

59 min 51 sec

Jaz Mooney is a publican from Northern Ireland who built-up an insane portfolio of pubs during the Troubles like The Fly bar, Madison’s Hotel, McHugh’s, The Nothern Whig, Ryan’s Bar and Grill, The Kings Head, The Globe Bar, Apartment Bar, The Rotterdam Bar and of course The Botanic Inn (aka The Bot!)     After being trained at what became the University of Ulster, Jaz went travelling to Australia where he met his future wife and discovered many fresh ideas/concepts which he then brought back home with him to the local hospitality scene.     Fast forward a few decades and Jaz has sold-up his businesses at home and moved out to Australia where he's lived since 2006 with his wife and five kids. These days he runs Pelathon an organisation that manages and serves hospitality businesses all over Australia     In today's episode we talk about: His early memories of working in hospitality Operating some of the only pubs open during The Troubles Crazy stories from back in the day How COVID has affected the hospitality industry And the greatest challenges/successes he's faced along the way.   Check it out.   // Webpage: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/jaz-mooney-publican   Best Of Belfast is Northern Ireland's #1 Interview Podcast. We've shared 100+ hour-long conversations with incredible people from Northern Ireland.   To find out more, or join 'The Producers Club' please visit https://bestofbelfast.org/   Cheers!   — Matt 

Apr 26

43 min 24 sec

Hello! Today is a bit of an experimental episode where I catch up with Rob Cantle from the Producer's Club to talk through his favourite Best Of Belfast podcast episodes!   The idea is simple: what if every quarter or so, we hop on a pod with a listener to swap notes and stories about some episodes from deep within the archive or the show’s recent past.   In theory, it could be a chance to reflect on some of the things discussed in previous episodes, connect with other listeners and maybe act as a bit of a teaser for some of the episodes you've missed or haven't got round to yet…   Check it out and let me know what you think as always.   Hope all is well.   — Matt   P.S. After 4 months stuck in Germany we’re finally back home!   //   Episodes mentioned in this conversation Tim Brundle & Philip Hamil Dr Mano Jonny Quinn & Gary Lightbody Claire McClaughlin Anna McKeever John Elliott Bernadette Collins The Priests

Apr 19

57 min 44 sec

Hey friends — bringing something a little different to you today — a slow-cooked conversation with good friend and fellow creative Simon Worthington.   We cover a lot of random things in this chat from our Queen's Gambit-inspired chess obsession, skateboarding, writing and early mornings, but the real meat and potatoes of the conversation (starting at 21 mins) is about Simon's recent decision to stop Turf & Grain — an independent magazine he's poured his life into over the last few years.    I wanted to do this for a few reasons: I love Simon and am always interested in what he has to say Nothing lasts forever and I think we need to start more about how to maturely end things/wrap up  Selfishly I wanted to pick his brain and learn from the wild/crazy/incredible journey he's been on over the last few years with running one of the most impactful creative projects NI has ever seen.   So please enjoy this episode in all of it's raw, unedited glory and as always let me know what you think at matthew@bestofbelfast.org   Cheers!   //   Webpage for this episode: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/simon-worthington-part-two   Link to part one: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/simon-worthington-turf-and-grain  

Apr 12

1 hr 47 min

Samuel Davidson (1846 – 1921) was an engineer from Belfast who invented the air conditioning fan, brought tea to Northern Ireland and founded Sirocco Works — a manufacturer of machines that employed over 1000 people.   He was also a self-taught musician, photographer and world-traveller in a time when ‘a business trip to India’ meant a 66-day journey!   Yet few people in Northern Ireland have ever heard about Samuel Davidson — or the legacy he's left for our city today.   In this week's episode we catch up with great-grandchildren, former employees and local historians to try to figure out how a young lad who never finished school was able to become one of the great industrial titans of his time.   Check it out.   //   This episode is part of The Streets Where They Lived: a new documentary collaboration between Successful Belfast, Belfast Buildings Trust, and Best of Belfast. The Streets Where They Lived will feature the stories of six incredible but sometimes overlooked men and women from Belfast and some of the buildings and places in the City with which they’re connected.   The project is a collaboration with Successful Belfast, a project of Belfast Buildings Trust. It is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Belfast Buildings Trust is a charity founded in 1996 to regenerate Belfast’s landmark buildings. The Trust works to ensure that the City’s authentic heritage is made relevant for people today. One of its projects is Successful Belfast, which champions new and creative ways of involving people in Belfast’s future development.   // Website link: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/samuel-davidson-sirocco-works

Apr 5

44 min 7 sec

One of the most talked-about moments on the show.   Found it on the hard drive the other day and couldn't resist sharing it. Hope it gives you a laugh.   Full episode with Emer here: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/emer-maguire-comedian  

Apr 1

4 min 15 sec

Sheree Atcheson is a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Expert from Sri Lanka/County Tyrone currently living in London!   Listed as one of the UK's Most Influential Women in Tech, Sheree (@nirushika) worked for the likes of Deloitte and Monzo before becoming the Global Director Of Diversity and Inclusion at Peakon.    Alongside being a regular contributor at publications like Forbes, Fast Company and Business Insider, she's also an Advisory Board Member of Women Who Code (an organisation she helped bring to the UK).   Her book Demanding More comes out in April and is about Why Diversity and Inclusion Don't Happen and What We Can Do About It. (Click here to pre-order).     In today's episode we talk about: Adoption + growing up as a person of colour in Tyrone How Sheree got into tech The obstacles that hold organisations back from diversity Reconnecting with her Sri Lankan birth mother And the greatest challenges/successes she's faced along the way   Check it out! // Episode web page: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/sheree-atcheson-diversity-and-inclusion   Best Of Belfast is Northern Ireland's #1 Interview Podcast. We've shared 100+ hour-long conversations with incredible people from Northern Ireland.   To find out more, or join 'The Producers Club' please visit https://bestofbelfast.org/   Cheers!   — Matt 

Mar 29

50 min 9 sec

Ever since she was little, Lydia Hodgins has dreamed of working with food (even though the teachers wanted her to study Latin instead).      During the lockdown, this dream became a reality when she and her partner Justin launched Local Box — a digital ‘corner shop’ that delivers high-quality NI food to your door.     In this episode we caught up with Lydia to hear why more people are shopping local, what it was like doing thousands of deliveries during lockdown and how local food can change the world.    Check it out.    //   This interview is part of our Tough Times, Tougher City mini-series presented in partnership with Belfast City Council featuring five businesses who have started, scaled or pivoted during the pandemic.     To find out more about how the Council can help you and your business, please click here.      //   Webpage for this episode: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/local-box-ni-food

Mar 26

25 min 35 sec

Ian Richardson has come a long way from cleaning glasses in his parent’s pub. As a Landscape Architect and the founder of multiple start-ups he now spends his days reinventing the way cities work.     Being deeply passionate about the environment, he believes entrepreneurship is the solution to global problems like climate change and his current ventures — StreetDock and Circle — exist to make urban deliveries green in an age of e-commerce and endless Amazon deliveries.    In today’s episode hear what it was like starting businesses in the 2008 recession and 2020 pandemic, why “the last-mile” of delivery causes so many issues and how returning to the humble bicycle could save the day.     Check it out.     //   This interview is part of our Tough Times, Tougher City mini-series presented in partnership with Belfast City Council featuring five businesses who have started, scaled or pivoted during the pandemic.     To find out more about how the Council can help you and your business, please click here.      //   Webpage for this episode: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/streetdock-circle-delivery-belfast

Mar 25

29 min 7 sec

10-years ago, Terry from Mumbai proposed to Judy from Budapest at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. From there they travelled all over the world, launched a business and moved to Belfast to start a family.     But when the pandemic hit — causing Terry to lose his job — the couple were put in a tricky situation… especially since Judy had just had baby #2.      In today’s episode, we discover the twist of events that led to them turning their garden into a farm, growing mushrooms in the city and launching their hugely successful business Hearty Growers.      Check it out.   //   This interview is part of our Tough Times, Tougher City mini-series presented in partnership with Belfast City Council featuring five businesses who have started, scaled or pivoted during the pandemic.     To find out more about how the Council can help you and your business, please click here.    //   Webpage for this episode: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/hearty-growers-mushrooms-belfast

Mar 24

58 min 29 sec

When Eva, Josh and Donal signed up to go university, they would have laughed if you told them that a few years later they’d be directors in their own Animation Studio.      But when COVID wiped out all of their placement opportunities, they decided to go out and create their own — launching Aura Digital in the process.      In today’s episode, hear how three students found a gap in the market, built a fully digital business and provided employment for other creatives during the pandemic     Check it out.      //   This interview is part of our Tough Times, Tougher City mini-series presented in partnership with Belfast City Council featuring five businesses who have started, scaled or pivoted during the pandemic.     To find out more about how the Council can help you and your business, please click here.      //   Webpage for this episode: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/aura-digital-animation-belfast

Mar 23

29 min 14 sec

Murphy & Bailey is a luxury pet boutique on the Belmont Road in East Belfast that launched during lockdown.     It’s founded by Jude and Karen — two dog-loving, high-flying corporates who met while walking their dogs Murphy and Bailey at the local park.      In today’s episode, hear why they traded established careers for the start-up life, what it was like starting a business during the pandemic and the role pets have played in getting our city through these tough times.     Check it out.     //   This interview is part of our Tough Times, Tougher City mini-series presented in partnership with Belfast City Council featuring five businesses who have started, scaled or pivoted during the pandemic.     To find out more about how the Council can help you and your business, please click here.      //   Webpage for this episode: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/murphy-and-bailey-belfast

Mar 22

30 min 36 sec

Just hopping on to give a quick heads up about an exciting new mini-series we're launching next week in collaboration with Belfast City Council.   Also give a quick life update from the mother-in-law's basement...

Mar 17

3 min 21 sec

Paul Moore is the Director of Future Screens NI and the Professor of Creative Technologies at Ulster University.   He's also a TEDxSpeaker, fellow Ormeau Baths resident, lifelong Deadhead and has even spent a few years riding with the Hells Angels for part of his PhD.   In today's episode we talk about: What it was like growing up in the 50s/60s in Belfast The future (and past) of NI's creative industry Some of the amazing things happening on our doorstep (And why we need to make them more visible) Plus his greatest challenges/successes along the way   Check it out.   // Webpage: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/paul-moore-future-screens-ni   Best Of Belfast is Northern Ireland's #1 Interview Podcast. We've shared 100+ hour-long conversations with incredible people from Northern Ireland.   To find out more, or join 'The Producers Club' please visit https://bestofbelfast.org/   Cheers!   — Matt 

Mar 15

57 min 57 sec

Helen Lewis (1916-2009) was a dancer, choreographer and Holocaust Survivor who moved to Belfast after WW2.   Growing up in Czechoslovakia, she witnessed attitudes towards her Jewish friends and family change with the rise of Nazis Germany. When the war broke out, she, her husband and her parents were moved to the Jewish ghetto Terezín before being imprisoned in separate concentration camps — where only she survived.   In this week's episode, we caught up with friends, family members and former students of Helen to find out more about her remarkable life and why it's more important than ever to keep telling her story today.   Check it out.   //   This episode is part of The Streets Where They Lived: a new documentary collaboration between Successful Belfast, Belfast Buildings Trust, and Best of Belfast. The Streets Where They Lived will feature the stories of six incredible but sometimes overlooked men and women from Belfast and some of the buildings and places in the City with which they’re connected.   The project is a collaboration with Successful Belfast, a project of Belfast Buildings Trust. It is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Belfast Buildings Trust is a charity founded in 1996 to regenerate Belfast’s landmark buildings. The Trust works to ensure that the City’s authentic heritage is made relevant for people today. One of its projects is Successful Belfast, which champions new and creative ways of involving people in Belfast’s future development.   // Website link: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/helen-lewis-holocaust-survivor   Best Of Belfast is Northern Ireland's #1 Interview Podcast. We've shared 100+ hour-long conversations with incredible people from Northern Ireland.   To find out more, or join 'The Producers Club' please visit https://bestofbelfast.org/   Cheers!   — Matt 

Mar 8

40 min 48 sec