I know what you’re thinking: it must be a tough assignment to find your favourite bar in Cork, but, hey, someone has to do it. Everyone I spoke to in Cork wanted to make recommendations. Nobody had just one. I took time out from the main festival venues to check out some of them…
A couple of people had their favourite tiny, cosy snug bars, like the Hi-B or Hibernian, at 108 Oliver Plunkett Street. I noticed that it even has a conveniently located Chemist’s shop directly under it.
It was cosy, yes, but at Festival time full to bursting. Another popular small bar recommendation was Dan Lowrey’s in McCurtain Street: again, absolutely heaving!
So I just wandered. On festival weekend the city is completely alive, there is music just everywhere. On the main shopping street St Patrick’s Street a banjo and accordion led trio had a “I still hate Thatcher” sticker on display, and were punching out marching songs.I passed by the Oliver Plunkett itself (top picture). It’s very central and quite a magnet, with a good local rock n’ roll and jump jive band, the Roaring Forties performing. I passed a bar called the Woodford where a brylcreemed retro blues band was knocking it out. There were tribute bands performing My Generation, bars for the older clientele which always seemed to have My Way on the CD player. I tried a couple more recommendations: other names which had come up were the vast Bodega in Cornmarket Street – one of the festival venues, I landed between sets – and the Roundy, which also seemed full of character and friendly.
The choice is mesmerising, so you go on looking. And eventually- I can now vouch from personal experience – everyone should be able to find their perfect spot. With a cold Paulaner Weizbier in hand, I certainly found mine. The trio of vocals/ alto / clarinet (Carolyn Goodwin) with guitarist Sam Barker and bassist Neil O’Loghlin were performing at the Cornstore Bar & Grill. Goodwin is a singer/ musician active on both the Cork and Dublin scenes. Barker is originally from Lymington in Hampshire, and has a regular gig at the Cornstore on Friday nights and Sunday lunchtimes. O’Loghlin is a skillful and understandably busy bassist originally from Co. Clare, now based in Dublin.
Carolyn Goodwin sings the standards repertoire with a poise, charm and musicality which instantly turned an onerous duty (OK, hardly) into the greatest of pleasure. She also plays a Konitz/ Desmond infused alto with imagination and class. I look forward to hearing Carolyn Goodwin again. People around the music scene in Cork whom I spoke to are definitely aware of her, but she definitely deserves to be more than just their well-kept local secret.
For more about Cork try the Bradt guide by Linda Fallon. I was the guest of the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival and of Tourism Ireland.