From Newry To New York: Pauline Turley, Irish Arts Center (#50)

After winning the green card lottery in 1997, Pauline Turley left friends and family in Newry behind to move to NYC.  

Since then Pauline has been on a rollercoaster journey that’s included pulling pints in a bar frequented by famous Irish actors, getting married to an American fella and developing the Irish Arts Center into what is it today.

Founded in 1972, the Irish Arts Center is a multi-disciplinary organization dedicated to promoting a dynamic image of Ireland and Irish America of the 21st Century. In October 2018, Irish Arts Center broke ground on the first phase of a new $60 million Irish Arts Center Development project, which is scheduled to open in 2020.

(Looks really incredible so it does).

Pauline is an absolute powerhouse and I had an absolute blast sitting down to hear her story and I know you will to.

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Matthew Thompson
Nostalgia, Entrepreneurship and Art with Aaron Flanagan from Comic Book Guys (#49)

In 2014, Aaron Flanagan and his brother quit their ‘proper jobs’ to open Comic Book Guys, Northern Ireland's largest independent comic book store and the first-ever authorised CGC dealer. The one-stop shop located on Great VIctoria Street has been serving Belfast’s thriving comic book scene through golden, silver age, bronze to modern comics, movie memorabilia, toys, collectables and even comics made by local creators (including a comic made by the Comic Book Guys themselves about fighting the zombie apocalypse off in their shop).

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Matthew Thompson
A Conversation With Coworking Space King Steve Pette (#48)

After working in hospitality since he was 13 years old, Steve Pette has spent his life creating experiences for people. Describing himself as a guy looking to make a positive difference in cities through inspired environments, Steve is a cofounder of Ormeau Baths and Central-Working, two coworking spaces that provide local businesses with a place to thrive. Steve has worked with some big names in the hospitality sector and also in the airline industry with Virgin Atlantic and was one of the founding team members who brought the airline to America: redefining the US travel market.

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Matthew Thompson
“Small Steps To Giant Living” With Scott Riley From Causeway Living (#47)

In June 2014, Scott Riley (the founder of Causeway Living) was 100 lb overweight, suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis and on a cocktail of pharmaceutical drugs. He was depressed, isolated and at rock bottom in his life.

But not any more. After some big leaps of faith like being treated by the tribes in the Peruvian Amazon, going 60 days without solid food, and climbing frozen mountains half naked in the snow, Scott now coaches others to “take small steps to giant living” when it comes to their health, fitness and wellbeing.

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Matthew Thompson
Rachael Campbell-Palmer From Black Box: “A Space For Things Don’t Have One” (#46)

With over 600 events every year including live music, discos, art exhibits, comedy sketches, open mic storytelling nights and much much more, The Black Box is without a doubt the creative heartbeat of our city. We sat down with co-director Rachael Campbell-Palmer to talk about the importance of creating spaces where people can experiment with new ideas, mediums and art forms.

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Matthew Thompson
The Hero’s Journey With Mark Dowds (#44)

You may know Mark Dowds as an early investor in Uber, the Chief Operating Officer of Trov, and one the of key people behind the Ormeau Baths coworking space in Belfast. But he sees himself more as “just a guy from Northern Ireland,” a dedicated husband, father, ultra-marathoner, keen cyclist and “possibly the worst pupil the all-boys school Inst has ever seen.”

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Matthew Thompson
Talking Craft With Musicians Johnny James & Rebekah Fitch (#43)

Today we’re joined by two incredibly talented young musicians - Johnny James and Rebekah Fitch.

After meeting on Instagram the two have gone on to perform and record together, with their latest single dropping last week.

In this unfiltered conversation, we chat about how they got into music, the challenges of the creative process and their new song Hiding.

Check it out.

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Matthew Thompson
‘Being Yourself’ With Andrew McCracken And Jason Harvey From GoFyt (#37)

When Andrew McCracken and Jason Harvey met 10 years ago, they had no idea they’d end up co-founding GoFyt, a successful sports tech start-up based in Belfast. After getting injured just before the race of his career in the Commonwealth Games, Jason struggled to find a local physio and get the therapy he needed, despite having a huge range of contacts in the fitness industry.

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Matthew Thompson
The Art Of ‘Diving In’ With Street Artist Danni Simpson (#36)

After quitting her marketing job in Australia, Danni Simpson bought a one-way ticket to Europe to pursue a career as an artist. Stopping off in Belfast for a short-trip to visit her granny spiralled into working on a number of murals in the city while living above the Harp Bar… It wasn’t long before Danni decided to move to Northern Ireland full-time.

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Matthew Thompson
Talking Potatoes With Jack Hamilton From Mash Direct (#34)

Jack Hamilton is a 6th generational farmer with a twist. After the family farm faced financial difficulties, the Hamilton Family took the potato industry by surprise and founded Mash Direct.
What started as a mash-potato delivery service via van has grown into one of Northern Ireland’s most well-loved companies and one that sells a pack of vegetables every second.

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Matthew Thompson
Chatting Cafe Culture With Specialty Coffee Pro Rachel Snowden (#33)

Rachel Snowden is a speciality coffee pro who has been working in Cafes around Northern Ireland since she was 17. After getting a degree in psychology and working in the corporate world, Rachel decided to return to her roots and her passion: making coffee. Since then she has entered into several coffee competitions, managed several cafes and has even found the time to dream and scheme about opening her own someday.

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Matthew Thompson
Podcast Interview With Kevin Young, A Results Coach From InMynd

Kevin Young spends his days peeling back the false beliefs and limiting mindsets each of us have.

Whether it’s something from our past, pain we experience in the present or a national negativity etched into our psyche, Kevin is extremely interested - and talented - at challenging the voices in our heads with reason and truth. 

In this special ‘New Years Edition’ of Best Of Belfast, we tackle the massive question of why do we not become the person we want to be, discuss the drawback of New Years Resolutions and try to understand the Northern Irish mindset.

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Matthew Thompson