Belfast born & bred
Born and raised in Belfast, George Best began his club career in England with Manchester United, who had spotted his talent at the age of 15. He went on to see success with United scoring 179 goals from 470 appearances over 11 years. Rated as one of the best footballers in the world by Pele, George Best will forever by known as the "beautiful boy with a beautiful game".
An influential journalist and broadcaster, Stuart is based in Belfast, where his BBC Radio Ulster show has welcomed guests such as Radiohead, REM, Snow Patrol and Brian Wilson. A musician himself, Stuart played in several bands in Belfast. Moving to London he worked as a journalist on the New Musical Express, becoming Assistant Editor between 1993 and 1996. He works as a freelance journalist, contributing to Mojo, Q and Hot Press among others, and wrote the authorised biography of Thin Lizzy, ‘The Ballad Of The Thin Man’, in 1997.
Colin was born in Newtownards in County Down in 1962 but grew up in Bangor, where he attended Ballyholme Primary School and Bangor Grammar School. After leaving school he worked as a reporter on a local newspaper, which he believes was the perfect training for a writer. He wrote the acclaimed ‘Divorcing Jack’ in his spare time and, after numerous rejections, it was published by Harper Collins in 1995. He has written 14 novels since then and has had three screenplays filmed, ‘Divorcing Jack’, ‘Cycle of Violence’ (his second novel) and ‘Wild About Harry’. His television credits include the BBC series ‘Murphy’s Law’.
Born in Belfast, Kenneth was educated at Grove Primary School. Though his family left for England when he was nine, his first great success as an actor was as the title character in a BBC television production of Graham Reid’s acclaimed ‘Billy’ plays, set in Belfast. Since then he has won worldwide fame, and Oscar nominations, as an actor and director. He is probably best known for his film adaptations of the works of William Shakespeare, beginning with ‘Henry V’ in 1989 and followed with ‘Hamlet’, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, ‘Othello’, ’Love’s Labour’s Lost’ and ‘As You Like It’.
An internationally renowned musician and conductor, Barry was born in 1960 in Belfast, where he attended Methodist College. He first studied music in his native city. Among his many awards he became the first non-Russian for many years to win a gold medal at the prestigious Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow in 1986. Barry has performed with every major international orchestra and collaborated with conductors such as Ashkenazi, Davis, Previn and Rostropovich. He received an OBE in 2002 for services to music and holds an honorary doctorate from Queen’s University, Belfast.
Sir James Galway
‘The Man with the Golden Flute’ was born in Belfast in 1939. He began playing the penny whistle as a small child before switching to the flute. He continued his studies at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, followed by the Paris Conservatory. After several positions in prestigious orchestras, such as the Berlin Philharmonic, he launched his solo career in 1975 and is now acknowledged as one of the world’s finest classical flautists. Among numerous awards and honours, he received an OBE in 1979 and was knighted for services to music in 2001.
Ciarán began his career at The Glasgow Citizens Theatre. He has worked at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, the Druid Theatre in Galway and at the Gate and Abbey Theatres in Dublin. He has also played leading roles for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre. His many television appearances include: ‘Rome’, ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’, ‘Jane Eyre’, ‘Prime Suspect Three’ and ‘Persuasion’. Film credits include: ‘Circle Of Friends’, ‘Titanic Town’, ‘The Road To Perdition’, ‘Jonjo Mickybo’, ‘Calendar Girls’,‘Lara Croft’, ‘Veronica Guerin’, ‘The Phantom Of The Opera’, ‘Miami Vice’ and ‘Munich’.
Now a leading presenter with BBC News 24, Maxine trained as a newspaper journalist in her native Northern Ireland, before working on radio and television for BBC Northern Ireland in Belfast. Since then she has worked for Ulster Television, ITN in London and Sky News, for whom she was their Ireland Correspondent. She was the Washington Correspondent for GMTV between 1992 and 1996, after which she returned to London and the BBC, initially with BBC World, then with BBC News 24. Maxine is married and has two daughters.
Medbh was born in Belfast in 1950 and educated at a Dominican convent and Queen’s University. She has worked as a teacher and editor and was Writer in Residence at Queen’s University for several years. An acclaimed poet and writer, she has published several anthologies of poetry since her first publications in 1980,‘Single Ladies: Sixteen Poems’ and ‘Portrait of Joanna’. Her first major collection, ‘The Flower Master’ (1982), which explores post-natal breakdown, was awarded a Rooney prize for Irish Literature. Among other awards she won the 1989 Cheltenham Prize for her collection, ‘On Ballycastle Beach’. Her latest collection is ‘The Book of the Angel’.
Also known as the ‘The Clones Cyclone’, Barry was born just across the border in the Republic of Ireland but fought as a British boxer and became a sporting hero to the people of Northern Ireland. He started boxing at an early age and won the All-Ireland Amateur championship in 1976. He won international fame as an amateur with his gold medal at the Commonwealth Games of 1978. He fought as a featherweight after turning professional and won the WBA Championship in 1985, beating Eusebio Pedroza before 25,000 people at the Queen’s Park Rangers football stadium. Over 20 million watched it on television. His triumphant return to Belfast, where he fought many of his bouts, was one of the city’s greatest sporting moments.
One of the most popular presenters in British radio, Stephen was born in Belfast in 1973 and was educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and Queen’s University. He won early fame with BBC Northern Ireland as a radio and television presenter and has been presenting an award-winning show on BBC Radio Five Live since 2005. He also presents a show for Radio Ulster. Known for his cheeky sense of humour and straight talking style, he was UK Speech Broadcaster of the Year 2003 and Royal Television Society Regional Presenter of the Year in 2005 and 2006.
One of the foremost novelists to emerge from Northern Ireland, Glenn was born in Belfast in 1961 and studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. He is the author of seven novels: ‘Burning Your Own’ (1988), winner of a Betty Trask Award and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, ‘Fat Lad’ (1992), ‘Black Night at Big Thunder Mountain’ (1995), ‘The International’ (1999),‘Number 5’ (2003), ‘That Which Was’ (2004), and, most recently, ‘The Third Party’ (2007). A collection of his journalism, ‘Lapsed Protestant’, was published in 2006. He teaches Creative Writing at Queen’s University Belfast and edits the Ulster Tatler’s Literary Miscellany.
Dame Mary Peters
Mary moved to Ballymena in County Antrim with her family when she was 11 years old and Northern Ireland has been her home ever since. Mary lives in Belfast, although she has spent most of her life travelling the world, competing or working. She has been an inspiration to people throughout Northern Ireland, her sporting triumphs helping to bring them together during the Troubles. Now renowned as an ambassador for sport, Mary achieved international fame when she won the gold medal in the Pentathlon in the 1972 Olympic Games.
Zoe grew up in Bangor in County Down, just outside Belfast. In 1999, she won the title of Miss Northern Ireland. She is a qualified solicitor, and completed a four-year law degree at Queen’s University, Belfast. In December 2004 she became the second former beauty queen to become a presenter of the popular BBC children’s television programme, Blue Peter. Since joining the Blue Peter team, Zoe has sung on stage at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the Last Night of the Proms and made a film about Bangor.
Born in Larne, Co Antrim, Raymond was educated at Queen’s University. A freelance journalist who writes regularly for The Independent, he was Media Editor of The Times for seven years. Before moving to The Times, he was a reporter on the Financial Times for 19 years, mainly writing on media and communication issues. He has presented various television series on the media, including Hard News on Channel 4 and Media Monthly on Sky News. He is currently the presenter of Newswatch, the BBC News 24 accountability programme. His books include ‘The Good, The Bad and the Unacceptable’ and‘Greenfinger’.
Also known as Duke Special, vocalist and pianist Peter is one of the leading alternative musicians in the United Kingdom. He went solo in 2002 after playing in various bands, including Booley and Benzine Headset. He has supported Van Morrison and toured with the Beautiful South and Divine Comedy. In December 2006 he supported Snow Patrol at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, playing to 10,000 people. He has been nominated for three 2007 Meteor Music Awards, for Best Irish Male, Best Newcomer, and Best Album for ‘Songs from the Deep Forest.