US TV fans to wish they were in Carrickfergus

Singer Brian Kennedy (seated) with Colin Magee, United Airlines Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival, and John Walker, producer of Music City Roots, during filming for the TV show at the Andrew Jackson Homestead in Carrickfergus. (Photo by Phil Smyth). INCT 11-790-CON
Singer Brian Kennedy (seated) with Colin Magee, United Airlines Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival, and John Walker, producer of Music City Roots, during filming for the TV show at the Andrew Jackson Homestead in Carrickfergus. (Photo by Phil Smyth). INCT 11-790-CON

Carrick’s historic link with President Andrew Jackson is to be showcased to millions of American television viewers later this year.

Popular TV music show Music City Roots, which airs across the United States on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service, a public network), returned to Northern Ireland to record material at this year’s Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival.

As well as the music of the festival, filming also took place along the Causeway coastal route, including in Carrickfergus, where Brian Kennedy sang the famous song of the town’s name in the ancestral home of seventh US president, Andrew Jackson.

Invited here by Tourism Ireland, the crew filmed performances and interviews with musicians like Foy Vance, Cara Dillon and Paul Tully.

The material will be used to create a one-hour programme presented by acclaimed performer and songwriter Jim Lauderdale, together with BBC Radio Ulster presenter Ralph McLean, which will be seen by an estimated 60 million music fans across the US when it airs on PBS this autumn.

Aubrey Irwin, Tourism Ireland’s head of Northern Ireland, said: “BelNash Festival, now in its eleventh year, is a great way for Tourism Ireland to showcase the vibrant music scene of Northern Ireland and shine a spotlight on the many links between the two musical traditions.

“International broadcast opportunities such as this are extremely important, helping Tourism Ireland to build awareness of what’s on offer in Belfast and Northern Ireland and bringing the destination to the attention of millions of music lovers and potential holidaymakers alike.

“This TV programme will showcase not only some amazing gigs and local acts, but also the unique vibe of Belfast and the deep links between places like Carrickfergus and Nashville, which share the history of one of the earliest American presidents, Andrew Jackson. It all helps to reinforce our message that Northern Ireland is a ‘must visit’ destination with so much to do and see.”

Tourism Ireland has a busy promotional programme under way in the US this spring, to highlight Northern Ireland to prospective holidaymakers.

Millions of Americans will see ads and holiday features this spring; and local tourism companies will join Tourism Ireland in the US this year, ‘pounding the pavements’ through a series of sales blitzes, targeting hundreds of travel agents in key cities.