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Meet our Staff, Board Members, and Patron.



Clíona Donnelly

Clíona studied History at Queen’s University, Belfast, and then completed a MSC in Marketing and Entrepreneurship at the University of Ulster. She previously worked for the Dublin Business School and the Abbey Theatre in Dublin before moving back to Belfast to join the Northern Ireland Opera team in March 2011. Clíona is a trustee of the Board of the St. Anne’s Trust and the Belfast Philharmonic Society.

Clíona was awarded a British Empire Medal in June 2018 for services to music and young people in Northern Ireland.


Kate Guelke

Kate Guelke is a Belfast-based opera director and producer. Before joining the team at NI Opera, she studied English and Drama at Queen’s University Belfast and worked at numerous theatre and opera companies in Ireland and Germany in various capacities including outreach, production and direction. She is the Artistic Director of community opera company Spark Opera and a co-director at Platform Arts.


Julia O'Hara

Julia read English at Cambridge University and spent more than a decade working in book publishing in London specializing in marketing and international rights at Macmillan, Virgin Books and Phaidon. Since moving to Belfast, Julia worked in the property industry before joining NI Opera in 2018


Lynda Thompson-Spack

Lynda began performing in NI at a young age with Patricia Mulholland’s Irish Ballet Company. After completing a BA in Performing Arts at Middlesex University she moved into arts administration and funding, working as an Arts Officer for a London borough, then for the Arts Council of England and the UK Film Council. She subsequently worked in film PR, ran an ethical clothing company and has her own jewellery brand, ‘Fred Loves Ginger’.


Roy Bailie OBE Chairman

Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle CBE Vice-Chairman

James Hunt

Ken Lindsay

Stephen Kingon CBE

Professor Dolores O’Reilly

Jane Wells

Richard McBride


Sean Rafferty

Sean Rafferty was born in Belfast and brought up in Newcastle, Co. Down. He studied law at Queen’s University. Belfast, and soon after began his career in broadcasting. Sean is a respected arts broadcaster, having presented a variety of radio and television programmes on BBC Radio 3, BBC Northern Ireland and BBC Radio Ulster. Since 1997 Sean has been the regular presenter of In Tune on Radio 3.