Saturday, December 28, 2013

A is for Activist (Innosanto Nagara)

From an early age, children are introduced to animals, right and wrong, concepts of fulfilment and disappointment, fear and joy, all through chewed hardback books. Princesses are in need of rescue, dogs misbehave and talk, mice covet strawberries. Wealth is equated with happiness, poverty with sorrow.

How do you introduce the concepts of social justice, gender equality, caring for the environment, and the responsibility for citizens to fight for each other’s rights?

Innosanto Nagara wrote A is for Activist.

Originally funded via a Kickstarter campaign it a introduces children to an A-Z of vocabulary from Activism, Advocate, Banner, Co-op, Democracy, all the way through to Zapatista.

The board book is full of alliterations and rhymes, together with rich drawings.
F is for Feminist.
For Fairness in our pay.
For Freedom to Flourish
and choose our own way.
I remember taking our daughter to the ICTU-organised rally in front of the City Hall in July 2009 after the series of racist attacks against Romanian families in Belfast. One way of instilling values into your children is to teach them through your own actions.

(Incidentally, I also remember living with the consequence of a long lens photo of my daughter popping up again and again in the Belfast Telegraph after that rally in which it looked like she was carrying a placard (that she wasn’t) while sitting on her parent’s shoulders. When she’s older, I’ll give her the clipping as a memento of the birth of her activism!)

There are times when I’d need to resort to Google or Wikipedia to get the background on some of the characters mentioned on the pages of the book. Not all the content entirely matches my politics.

However, A is for Activist is a fantastic way of helping your children be more critical in their thinking from an early age … and potentially starting a revolution on the school council!

And as a festive teaser, can you name any of the people in the 'R' candle-lit vigil above? I'll post the answers in a day or two.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Out to Lunch festival: talks, comedy, music, theatre and great grub (2-26 January 2014)

The annual Out to Lunch festival in January starts the year with joy and hope This year’s programme is particularly strong with the corner of page after page folded over in the pocket-sized booklet. Lots and lots of lunchtime talks, comedy, music and theatre – together with evening events – in the festival this year.

All events are in the Black Box unless otherwise noted. The ticket price of weekday lunchtime events includes lunch.


Thu 2 Jan at 1pm // String quartet Scala Strings – graduates of the Youth Ulster Orchestra – with classical and contemporary music. £6.

Fri 3 Jan at 1pm // Songtrist and violinist Niamh Dunne (in Irish trad band Beoga) playing material from her first solo album Portraits. With Sean Og Graham and Trevor Hutchinson. £6. [quick review]

Thu 9 Jan at 1pm // Chris Braniff is The Young Shadow as “this teen guitar prodigy from Larne” plays the hits from the 60s legends. Backed by The Shadowmen. £6

Thu 9 Jan at 8pm // Smoke Fairies are a duo with a “mix of ethereal vocal harmonies and swamp-land guitars … as seemingly contradictory as the rolling hills of the pair’s native Sussex and the foothills of the Appalachian mountains”. £8.

Fri 10 Jan at 1pm // Tucan’s musical genre-crossing instrumental tunes are familiar to Electric Picnic festival audiences with the interpretations of 90s and 00s dance classics. £6.

Sat 18 Jan at 3pm // Abbabelle Chvostek is a former Wailin’ Jenny and will be belting out her “joyful, anthemic, and unabashedly political collection of songs revealing her passion for social justice and musical activism”. £5.

Sun 19 Jan at 2pm // Northern Ireland’s LGBT choir QUIRE will fill the Black Box with contemporary hits and old favourites. £5

Comedy, Theatre & Spoken Word

Sun 5 Jan at 2pm // John Hegley – New & Selected Potatoes // Poet, comic, singer, songwriter and glasses-wearer …. with seriously funny, cleverly comic poems on everything from love, family, France, art and the sea to dogs, dads, gods, carrots, spectacles and – of course – potatoes. £8. [quick review]

Tue 7 Jan at 1pm and 8pm // Terry Christian: Naked Confessions of a Recovering Catholic lifts the lid on the outspoken TV presenters upbringing, Manchester, The Word and Celebrity Big Brother. £6 (1pm), £8 (8pm). [quick review]

Wed 8 Jan at 1pm // Mark Grist: Rogue Teacher tells the story of a 30 year old supply teacher who defeated a “teenage grime artist” in a rap battle, bringing on-the-hoof poetry to a war of words. Yet the educational establishment weren’t so enthusiastic about his success. Warning, contains poetry. £6 [quick review]

Sun 12 Jan at 4pm in The Black Box Green Room // The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology is a “wildly entertaining romp through the crossroads of cinema and philosophy” by “cultural theorist superstar Slavoj Žižek” as he explains how epochal movies reinforce prevailing ideologies. What hidden Catholic teachings lurk at the heart of The Sound of Music? What are the fascist political dimensions of Jaws? And lots, lots more. £4.

Tue 14 Jan at 8pm // Not the Messiah is the one man show by actor George Telfer, “an extraordinary quest for the holy meaning of life of a very naughty boy”, namely the only non-living member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus Graham Chapman.

Wed 15 Jan at 1pm // Lee Ridley aka Lost Voice Guy was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a child. He embraces his disability and uses his iPad to great comic effect as he makes himself heard. The programme says “this guy will leave you speechless”. £6.

Wed 15 Jan at 8pm in The Black Box Green Room // In the Dark is described as “a communal listening experience which celebrates the world’s best radio” with RTE’s acclaimed radio producer Ronan Kelly and “a wealth of BBC and Independent wireless obsessives for a bespoke evening of radio. Admission free, no booking required.

Wed 22 Jan at 1pm and 8pm // Julie Madly Deeply takes songs from Julie Andrews’ musicals (Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music and My Fair Lady) and intertwines them with stories and anecdotes about the star’s life. A cheeky yet affectionate cabaret performed by Sarah-Louise Young and musical director Michael Roulston. £6 (1pm), £8 (8pm).

Thu 23 Jan at 1pm // Stand-up comic Nat Luurtsema will entertain with her first solo show in three years Here She Be! £6.

Fri 24 Jan at 1pm // The Whinge, The Nordie & The Geek sees three new generation NI comics – Ruaidhrí Ward, Shane Todd and Lorcan McGrane – given seventeen and a half minutes each to cheer up the lunchtime audience. £6.

Adventures With the Wife in Space (Neil & Sue Perryman), not an adventure likely to be repeated in our house

Until recently, watching Doctor Who seemed destined to be a solo activity in our house. Cheryl wasn’t a fan and over the last ten years I’ve watched every episode of the new series alone.

She had an epiphany in November and watched the anniversary episode with Littl’un, declaring that it was quite good. Unfortunately an epiphany U-turn occurred about 10 minutes into Christmas Day’s episode – just after the weeping angels but before any of the really sad stuff – when Cheryl left the room and now her Doctor Who boycott seems as strong as ever!

For Christmas – post-epiphany, but pre-reversal of opinion – I bought her a copy of Neil Perryman’s Adventures with the Wife in Space: Living With Doctor Who, about Neil and his wife Sue watching the entire canon of Doctor Who. Sue scored and reviewed ranted about each episode and Neil posted about the multi-year project on his blog.

Having pinched the book and read it over the last two days – well it’s Christmas and everyone knows that they buy presents for other people that they’d really like for themselves – I’ve come to the conclusion that even if Cheryl was still hooked on Doctor Who, it might not have been the book to encourage her fandom!

Being of an age where Tom Baker was my first Doctor, Peter Davison my favourite, and the early novelisations in Lisburn Library my main source of stories, the book proved useful as a way of allowing someone else to watch all the early stuff that I’ll never get around to.

I’m a fan, but not to the extent I have that amount of time to devote to it, and Sue’s musings have given me an independent opinion on whether I’ve missed anything.

BBC Four broadcast the four episode-long original story An Unearthly Child in November and to be frank it was awful. The story crept along at the pace of K9 moving on a sandy beach. So I wasn’t sure the old stuff was as good as people said.

From Sue’s scoring and commentary it sounds like the Pertwee era was good. Not necessary for the Doctor’s performance, but the ensemble around him and the storylines that held it together. But I seem well shot of Hartnell and Troughton.

An amusing romp through the perils of being too caught up in the cult of Doctor Who, Adventures With the Wife in Space is a reminder that what seemed good at the time may not age well. It poses some good questions, like why – with all the modern Doctor references to the Time War – didn’t the earlier Doctors talk about it?

But in the end, it’s a celebration of an incredibly long-running series and its ability to generate conversation and relationship … and a warning that fans can really annoy the actors (like the time Neil upset Colin Baler with his fanzine, and Sue upset John Levene, the actor who played UNIT’s Sergeant Benton)!

Currently £7 for the dead tree version on Amazon, or £5 on Kindle.

Update - As if by magic, Neil Perryman is interviewed on the Tin Dog podcast this week.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

"Rudolph wae yer neb sae bricht, wud yae guide mae sleigh the nicht?"

I'm still fascinated by the Ulster Scots carols and Christmas songs!

Rudolph, the rid-nebbed reindeer
Had a perfu shiny nose.
An if yae iver saa him,
Yae wud even say it glows.

Aal o the ither reindeers
Used tae lauch an call him names.
They niver lut power Rudolph
Join in onie reindeer games.

Thin yin foggy Christmas Eve
Santa come tae say:
"Rudolph wae yer neb sae bricht,
Wud yae guide mae sleigh the nicht?"

Thin all the reindeers loved 'im
An they shouted oot wae glee,
"Rudolph the rid-nebbed reindeer,
Yae'll go doon in history."

Monday, December 23, 2013

"I want a society where we will have politics & not a sectarian pantomime" (Alf McCreary in 1976)

In his autobiography Behind the Headlines, Alf McCreary recalls his editor’s leading article in the Belfast Telegraph on 5 November 1968 in which Jack Sayers wrote:
The threat to Northern Ireland’s future is not … the IRA or even Nationalism. It comes from Protestant Ulstermen who will not allow themselves to be liberated from the delusion that every Roman Catholic is their enemy.

Alf McCreary has had a long a varied career, from being editor of the Gown at Queen’s University, journalist and columnist for the Belfast Telegraph reporting on major stories during the Troubles as well as covering the religious beat, witnessing and telling the story of relief efforts in the third world, and exiting the printed press to become Queen’s University’s Information Officer during a stormy period in the institution’s history.

His recently published autobiography avoids the temptation to simply become a set of rose-tinted recollections about news stories. Instead Alf is not afraid to allow some self-criticism to enter his narrative.

A strong personal thread to run through the book evaluating the impact on his life and relationships of being born “out of wedlock” in the village of Bessbrook. While adopted by his grandfather and concluding that he overcame “these emotional obstacles”, Alf describes the “unwarranted shame” that he felt along with his mother:
… it was a huge struggle to overcome this perceived early ‘handicap’ of illegitimacy in the Northern Ireland of the Forties. Nor was it easy for a young boy to understand the background when he was told that the girl whom he had been reared to accept as his ‘sister’ was in reality his mother.

Sporting success and a great English teacher developed confidence in a young Alf McCreary. His first year at university involved passing exams to get onto the Modern History honours course as well as playing for the First XI hockey team and dating the then Miss Northern Ireland. He resurrected the Gown student newspaper after it was sued for libel and ended up as a graduate trainee in the Belfast Telegraph.
I have never believed in horoscopes since the time I had to write them for a couple of days because we have lost the agency copy.

The editorial position of the Belfast Telegraph of the late 1960s seems familiar to the paper’s take on NI politics and society forty five years later. Leader-writing direction came in the form of a sharp command to “give Terrance O’Neill a boost” or “write three pars in support of the New University”.

Alf McCreary’s faith also sews a thread through the three hundred page book. While never a member of the Corrymeela Community, he “approved of its objectives” and wrote a book about its history.

Northern Ireland politicians might want to check if Alf McCreary is available for speech writing when they read part of his Lenten address in Belfast Cathedral on 16 March 1976:
We have a short fuse and a long memory, we look forward, not back, to 1690 and 1916. We lack vision, we lack compassion, we lack statesmen, we lack politicians. We even lack ideas …

I look forward to a society where I can walk without fear in Royal Avenue, or East Belfast or the Bogside. I want a society where we will have politics and not a sectarian pantomime, where tomorrow is more important than today.

I look forward to the day when we in Ulster will use our brains (and we have them) and not our brawn; where power will come from the pen and not the sword; from the ballot box and not the barrel of a gun. I look forward to the day when I can look into the eyes of my children and know that this is a fit place for a child to live.

Alongside some hard-to-forget incidents and atrocities like Bloody Sunday and the Kingsmills Massacre – a story with personal connections for the author – Alf also shines a light on less-well-remembered events like one of the earliest meetings between church leaders and the Provisional IRA in December 1974. Bishop Arthur Butler, Canon Bill Arlow, Rev Eric Gallagher (former Methodist President), Rev Jack Weir (clerk of the Presbyterian General Assembly) acted on “their own initiative” and endured criticism from Unionists and denominational bodies for their meeting in a hotel in Feakle, County Clare in December 1974.

As a child at school I remember reading Alf McCreary’s book Tried by Fire about peacebuilders. It turns out that was merely one of thirty or so books he has penned over the years. Survivors told the stories of innocent victims of the Troubles. During the Troubles, Alf McCreary was supplying reports to some English papers as well as the Christian Science Monitor and Time magazine.

On a 2011 trip to Rwanda, Alf met Michael Kayatiba, a Tutsi, who had lost 56 members of his family during the genocide. Michael told him:

We are all children of God, and we need to come out from our ethnic mindsets, and to repent and to forgive, in order to transform our society.

Just one of many pertinent reflections that jumped out of this autobiography as I read it while Northern Ireland politicians continued to discuss processes to "deal with" our past in the Haass/O'Sullivan talks.

Spanning decades of journalism, from back in the day when reporters phoned in their copy from remote locations to more contemporary times with “more outlets, more commentators, instant experts and interactive interlopers who often exhibit more bias than expertise,” Alf McCreary’s story was unexpectedly gripping. Between writing television columns, numerous overseas visits on behalf of Christian Aid, his years at QUB outside journalism, and publishing a shelf full of books, the son of Bessbrook’s autobiography is at times humorous, often perceptive and very compelling.

I’ve seen copies of Behind the Headlines stacked up in Waterstones and Easons so if you’re looking for a last minute present … and no doubt it’ll be back in stock on Amazon after the holidays to soak up your vouchers!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Awa in a manger - singing carols in Ulster Scots

The Ullans Christmas Song BookI found my copy of The Ullans Christmas Song Book. I'll save Rudolph the rid-nebbed reindeer for later in the week, but to get you humming in the meantime ...
Awa in a manger, nae crib for Haes beid
The wee Lord Jesus left doon haes wee heid.
The stars in the bricht sky lukt doon whur Hae lay
The wee Lord Jesus sleepin on the hay.

The kye are lowin the poor wean awakes
But wee Lord Jesus nae crying Hae maks;
I love yae, Lord Jesus luk doon frae the sky
An stye bae mae side, ‘Tae morning is near.

Bae near me, Lord Jesus, a want yae tae stye
Near by mae forever an love mae, I pray
Bliss al the dear weans in your tender care
An tak us tae heaven tae leeve wae yae there.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Forget Turkey - sketches, songs, political satire & belly laughs - at the Lyric until 12 January

Belfast’s theatreland is full of shows about grocery stores closing down! In the Lyric, it’s Foodsides supermarket that’s having a clearance sale in the run-up to Christmas.

The show starts strongly with a musical review of the year that covers local and world events. Images are projected onto the gable wall of a house, with lyrics of some of the songs appearing to tempt the audience to join in. Politics is never far away.
"Every time someone says something [about the future] someone else goes to get a shovel to dig up the past."

Multimedia rich and packed with more laughs a minute than any show I’ve attended in years, Forget Turkey tells the story of the supermarket workers and shoppers, punctuated with a series of standalone sketches and filmed spoof adverts. Phil Crothers’ video work is excellent and while the show is technology-dependent, it never gets in the way of the real-life performance on stage.

Nothing is sacred.

The triumvirate of writers get laughs out of the most inappropriate subjects: Oscar Pistorius’ alleged murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, Jimmy Saville, the Maze/Long Kesh, the Peru Two, not to mention Gerry Adams’ forgetfulness.

Michael Condron plays a smoker in a mobility scooter and delivered some of the most apposite monologues of the evening. Amongst other characters, Maria Connolly and Jo Donnelly play a pregnant shopper and Bridie the cleaner, while Chris Robinson has perfected Artur the Polish porter with an architecture degree.

Conall McDevitt’s departure from politics along with “Anchorman” Mike Nesbitt are granted their own songs during the show. The SDLP and UUP headquarters staff should really join up to go and see it! The Nolan Show team might want to keep Stephen away from the Lyric for the next few weeks.

Willie ‘Abu Hamza’ Frazer and Jamie ‘mouth taped’ Bryson get the treatment too, along with an intimate call between ex-News International executives Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson which inspired one audience member to sway along with his cigarette lighter lit.

The banks and the churches seemed amongst the only groups to get away from the Forget Turkey spotlight. That may change as the material adapts during the month-long run.

The Mrs de Brún’s Boys sketch was very popular with the audience. The pace was consistent and it was rare for a joke to fall flat. The audience giggled and tittered and belly laughed no matter which culture or politician was being lampooned throughout the two hour and a half hour performance. (And this was at an early evening show which started at 17:45!)

Audience participation is encouraged – in fact, demanded – and the four actors bounce off the audience reaction and adapt their script with glee.

You can get your photograph taken with local cardboard celebrity scenes (including that landrover) in the Lyric’s foyer. As a bonus, the programme doubles up as a 2014 calendar with scenes from the show for each month.

The language is strong throughout and it’s very much a show for a new Northern Ireland that can embrace diversity and move on from its past. The refrain in the final song seems to sum up the writers’ vision:
"The boys and girls up at the big house don’t speak for me."

Forget Turkey has seven performances a week and runs in Belfast’s Lyric Theatre until 12 January. Highly recommended if you’re not easily offended.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Nostalgic entertainment that will make you laugh out loud - It’s A Wonderful Life … So It Is!

It’s A Wonderful Life … So It Is! marks the fifteenth and final festive collaboration between Grimes and McKee.

Their first major on-stage partnership was Button’s Hole in 1998, an alternative Christmas pantomime in the Old Museum Arts Centre. This year’s show runs in the Grand Opera House while the set is simple with black drapes disguising the colourful pantomime scenery, the lighting design takes full advantage of the theatre's height and the kit installed for the more complicated panto.

At breakneck speed short scenes introduce a raft of colourful Belfast characters and locations. Georgie Brady (played by Katie Tumelty) manages the corner shop. Money is tight but she comes up with a plan to start a Christmas club and tie the local community’s money into her store rather than feeding the profits of her monstrous competitor. But her co-workers are a liability and on Christmas Eve it all goes wrong.

Georgie blames herself and it’s up to a sweary apprentice Guardian Angel Clarty to earn his wings by saving Georgie, saving the business, and saving Christmas.

The audience are transported back to relive the events that shaped Georgie’s character and then experience the counterfactual of what Belfast would have been like if she hadn’t been born, including Grimes and McKee’s nightmare vision of 'West England'.

After all these years, Alan McKee and Conor Grimes clearly know their audience.

Lots of references to Belfast places and culture from the past. Frasers in Cornmarket, the Balls on the Falls. The cops are bent, the women are tanned to a crisp and emotions run high.

With the show starting at 10pm, the seats are still warm from the earlier pantomime audience. There’s a short interval and the performance ends around a quarter to midnight.

Given the time of night, thankfully it’s high energy with a lot of jumping around. For the most part it’s very shouty. Even the interval music is cranked up to eleven … presumably to empty the audience out to the bar. Unlike some of their previous Christmas shows, it’s smut and innuendo free. Strong language is used sparingly and with good humour.

Katie Tumelty more than holds her own against the more established Grimes and McKee. Hecklers are smoothly incorporated into the dialogue.

Last night’s show ended with a standing ovation from the audience for a confident performance. If you want some nostalgic entertainment that won’t tax your emotions but will make you laugh out loud, then grab a ticket for one of the eight remaining performance of Grimes & Mckee (& Tumelty) from the Grand Opera House.

Produced by Brassneck Theatre, It’s a Wonderful Life … So It Is! runs on Thu 13-Sat 14, Thu 19-Sat 21 and Fri 27-Sun 29 December.

Photos via Brassneck Theatre and Niall Cullen's twitter feeds.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Hatch: an eggcellent musical alternative to Christmas pantomime at the MAC (until 5 January)

Hatch packs an energetic adaption of The Ugly Duckling into a two hour show that runs in the MAC until 5 January. Patrick J O’Reilly’s adapting and directing together with Katie Richardson’s composing deliver a colourful Christmas musical allegory that steers clear of becoming a yah boo pantomime.

Starting with a couple of French rats, the versatile cast of six also play ducks, hens, a pig, a fox, a cat, an old woman, some children. It’s quite a physical performance and choreographer Jennifer Rooney has the cast doing acrobatic tumbles and running around on all fours as well as more traditional animal dancing.

Different animal species adopt an assorted array of European accents, with a few broad Belfast drawls thrown in. And lots of quacking. Masks, accessories along with hand gestures and facial expressions help distinguish between the farmyard characters. Watch out for the chicks in their Madonna-inspired costumes!
Is he just a waste of feathers? … You’re different, not like us, you’re not welcome here … You don’t fit in here.
Children – and some adults – will find themselves caught up in the emotion. My daughter observed that “there wasn’t a dry eye in the house” during some of the final scenes. While there are many laughs, a dark and sad mood hangs over Hatch.

The blame for that lies with the pen of Hans Christian Andersen rather than Patrick J O’Reilly. Sibling rivalry and bullying leads to discrimination and ostrichisation ostracisation, low self esteem, running away, a quest for beauty, and false hopes. There’s a large dose of fear: fear of the other, fear of the outsider and fear of what looks different.
I’m me and that’s all I can be.
It’s a Christmas show, but Hatch’s imaginary setting has unavoidable parallels with Northern Ireland and questions how well – or poorly – we treat newcomers and welcome them into communities. Whether thinking about immigration, mixed relationships in one-sided communities, or the treatment of the LGB community, there’s a poignancy to the MAC’s timely choice of story this Christmas. But back to the show ...
Just for one day I won’t be afraid of the night … I won’t have to fight.
As a child I was mesmerised by the lighting in theatres. Hatch doesn’t disappoint in that regard with slender spotlight beams giving height to the relatively low level set which is neither flat nor regular. A long ramp provides a vantage point for learning to fly and separates the front staging from the live band standing at the back. For once it’s a set and a performance that doesn’t rely on video projection and ambient music. While it’s unlikely that any of the lyrics or tunes will live on beyond the run of the show, Katie Richardson & her Carnivals are superb playing live with a mix of drums, guitars, woodwind, synths, party horns and a little vocal augmentation for ensemble numbers. [There's an extended interview with composer and musical director Katie Richardson on The Thin Air.]

While hard to avoid if adapting The Ugly Duckling, the enormous number of well drawn characters in Hatch nearly becomes a burden with many only appearing briefly, making a quick impression before being dispatched off the stage, never to return to the plot. A smaller number of characters would have been less emotionally draining.

If anything, the ending snuck up on me too quickly without quite enough time to warm my heart and savour the revelation of freedom being granted and freedom being taken. The finale is touching but rushed, and left me feeling that the ever-so-slightly depressing narrative overshadows the all too fleeting ray of sunshine at the end.

Families with young and pre-teen children sitting around me at last night’s performance loved the show. Youngsters in the front row, inches away from the stage, jumped up and down with glee. With twelve shows a week until early January, Hatch is a great alternative to a cheesy pantomime. (Tickets still available for the matinee on Christmas Eve if you want a treat.)

So gather up your feathers and waddle down to the MAC to conquer your inner ugly duckling and enjoy a home-grown, well-crafted musical in a terrific venue. Ticket prices start at £9.50.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell: an unsung hero of Belfast ... and deserving of a statue

I don't normally post sponsored infographics. Every month I get one or two emails from companies who are wanting to boost their SEO and brand awareness through some charts that are vaguely related to their business. However, Jurys Inns (they have a hotel in Belfast!) have created a list of Unsung Belfast Heroes which includes Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, an astrophysicist and past pupil of Lurgan College. They explain:
A Northern Irish astrophysicist (Belfast born), Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered the first radio pulsars while under her thesis supervisor. This discovery resulted in her supervisor Anthony Hewish, and Martin Ryle sharing a Nobel Prize in Physics. The omission of Bell Burnell from the prize sparked outrage and has been a point of controversy ever since as she not only found the initial anomaly, but also reviewed and reported on as much as 96ft of paper data per night, even against Hewish's scepticism.

Despite helping to build the four-acre radio telescope and being omitted from the discovery, Bell Burnell stated that Nobel Prizes would be demeaned if they were awarded to research students unless in very exceptional cases, which she deemed that hers was not. However, many institutions awarded her recognition for the discovery and she continued to rise in her career serving as the president of the Institute of Physics for two years.

Bell Burnell attended Lurgan College where she was one of the first girls permitted to study science in place of subjects such as cross-stitching and cooking.

You can hear a little of her story in her TEDxStormont talk earlier this year.

You can also watch clips of her explaining pulsars, listen to her discussing being a woman in the scientific community, and listen to her Desert Island Discs! On a BBC News Channel HARDtalk programme she explained:
I have discovered that even if you do describe it as an injustice you can do incredibly well out of not getting a Nobel Prize.
What a great success and role-model for Belfast City Council to celebrate with freedom of the city and a statue?

And the infographic ...

Belfast Unsung Heroes Infographic by Belfast Jurys Inn
Unsung Heroes of Belfast, by The Belfast Jurys Inn Hotel