Join us for The Slugger Big Day Out! On Saturday 31st of August at Hilden Brewery…

Join us for our one-day end of summer school at the wonderful Hilden Brewery in Lisburn. Hilden House was built in 1824 by William Barbour, founder of the Barbour Thread Company. The business grew rapidly and by the end of the 19th century, it was the biggest linen thread company in the world with offices and mills across the world.

Its chairman at the end of the 19th century was Milne Barbour, grandson of the founder of the company. He was a prominent figure in political and social circles, and Hilden House hosted many famous people. A sister of Milne Barbour, Helen, married Thomas Andrews, designer of the Titanic. They celebrated their wedding at Hilden House. Helen was not onboard the Titanic and later was married to Harland of esteemed shipbuilding company, Harland and Wolff.

Since 1981 Hilden House has been the home to Hilden Brewing Company, Ireland’s oldest independent brewery. Now, on 31 August 2019, it is the venue for Slugger O’Toole’s summer school.

Your speakers for the day will include:

  • Allison Morris – Security correspondent for the Irish News
  • Alex Kane – Unionist Commentator
  • Katy Hayward – Reader in Sociology at Queen’s University Belfast
  • Sarah Creighton – Solicitor and pro-union commentator
  • Chris Donnelly – School Principal and Slugger Contributor
  • more to be confirmed

The day kicks off at 10am with two debate sessions before lunch.

Then it’ll be time for a break with a relaxed BBQ lunch and a beer in the gardens. A full bar sells a wide selection of drinks and serves thirst-quenching tea and coffee.

After lunch it’s back for the two afternoon sessions, finishing up at 4pm.

Here are the provisional sessions, subject to change:

How do you solve a problem like Northern Ireland? Our very own Captain Von Trapp and Maria, Alex Kane and Allison Morris, tell us what issues they would tackle if they were joint First Ministers.

The rise of Generation Neither. The recent local government and European elections point to the growing influence of the centre-ground,  and voters who are not expressing a traditional Nationalist or Unionist identity. Could issue-based rather than identity-based politics really be on the rise?

All or Nothing? What does Northern Ireland’s history of talks and elongated political negotiations teach us about our inability to solve single issues without creating baskets of fudge that often melt before they’re turned into working policy?

Making the Union and Ireland fit for purpose? How do we make the UK and Ireland countries that work for everyone and not just unionists and nationalists?


Accessibility: Unfortunately as Hilden House is a historic building it is not wheelchair friendly. There is one small flight of stairs up to the debate room. Please contact us with any access issues and we’ll liaise with the venue.

Getting there: Hilden Brewery is just six miles from Belfast. There is free parking on site but we strongly advise you to take public transport or car share if you can, especially if you will be drinking. The train halt at Hilden is only a few minutes’ walk to the Brewery. We want you to relax and enjoy the day so let the train take the strain if you can. A number of bus routes also stop along the nearby Belfast Road (A1).

The ticket price is £25 and this includes a free BBQ lunch and a beer/soft drink (worth £15). Vegetarian and Vegan options will be available but please let us know your requirements in advance.

There are free tickets for any of our Friends of Slugger who have donated at least £30 and who are currently active donors. There are also discounted tickets for Slugger contributors. Just email me to arrange.

Capacity is limited so book your place now.

For any event queries or to book a veggie meal email: [email protected]


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