It was apparent upon my arrival in Cork that they took pride in their artistic showcases. (There is a contingent of Cork natives who argue that the capital should not be Dublin, but move to Cork because of the rich Irish culture found there as opposed to Dublin.) There were advertisements all over town for the Midsummer Festival for the Arts, which took place the weekend of June 21-24. I was able to make it to a modern Irish dance performance at Elizabeth Fort and go to the Wandesford Quay to see a multimedia piece called “Wise Men Say.” I really enjoyed both of these showcases and being able to take time away from the classroom to see more of Cork.
The view of St. Finnbarre’s Cathedral from the top of Elizabeth Fort and one of the paintings on masculinity and media in Irish culture.
Keeping the Midsummer Festival in mind, it didn’t surprise me when I went to the Cork Public Museum and asked about holidays unique to Cork that the worker immediately said the Cork Jazz Festival. The Irish love their music (I visited the bar that Enya’s family runs up in County Donegal and saw the church in County Kerry where Dolores Reardan of The Cranberries was married) but they love all kinds of music and according to this museum employee, there isn’t another jazz festival in all of Ireland like the one in Cork. Notre Dame hosts the Collegiate Jazz Festival every spring, so I’m familiar with how jazz in particular brings people together.
Me, standing outside of the restaurant named after Enya’s father, who just passed away in 2018
I asked one of my classmates in the Greek course who teaches English at UCC about the festival and he gave a similar account to the museum worker on Cork’s jazz festival. Both first spoke highly of the energy and approachability of the music, with dozens of locations hosting live music every day from tents and booths set up in the parks and on the street, to enjoying a show and a drink at the pub.
The Cork Public Museum is in Fitzgerald Park, just beside this water feature
They both talked about how a majority of events are completely free to the public and the museum worker emphasized that part of the fun of the jazz festival is how they bring the music to the people. People from around the world — musicians and aficionados and casual enjoyers alike — fill the hotels and Airbnb’s in the area surrounding Cork to share in this festival and my classmate asked if I was planning to attend this year. The date of the festival moves around every year, following the bank holiday weekend in October, which in 2019 falls on the 27th, the same weekend as the Michigan football game when the marching band is traveling to Ann Arbor. The worker was able to give me more information about the festival itself, such as that it began in 1978 and her favorite sub-genre of jazz, the New Orleans Brass Band.
On a non-jazz note, I was able to see a band that I enjoy after they’ve spent the last five years on hiatus
Overall, I found that both accounts of the jazz festival were remarkably similar and as I thought about why that might be, I realized that both my classmate and the museum employee were so excited to talk about Cork and things to do here. One of the many things I’ve noticed and appreciated during my time here in Ireland is the approachability of the Irish people. At first, I thought I was just lucky to find someone happy to help when I would ask a question, but as my time progresses, I have yet to find someone who’s not happy to help. Workers go above and beyond and total strangers are ready at the drop of a hat whenever they can tell that someone needs help. Both accounts of the Cork Jazz Festival came from a place of love and pride for Cork. Neither of them were official representatives of the festival but wanted to share their love for it, and for Cork, with me.