Emerald Isle

We love Ireland. It’s such a beautiful, friendly country. I first fell in love with it there when I studied abroad in Cork, on the south coast. A smaller city than Dublin, but still sizeable with it’s own main shopping area and university. By Irish standards, it’s a large city. By Chicagoan standards, it’s a cute, quiant town. But that’s all a matter of opinion. While studying there, we tried to make the most of what the town had to offer, checking out the different neighbourhoods and going to various events they had on. One of those events was the Cork Jazz Festival, a week-long festival featuring jazz musicians from all over the world playing at various venues across the city.

Back in 2008 when I lived there, I had two flatmates. One from Colorado, who was also studying abroad in the same courses as I, and one who was Irish and attended the Cork School of Music. He’s the one who clued us in to the festival and wow, am I glad he did! We attended 2 or 3 venues a day for that week seeing as much as we possibly could between classes. So this year, when it came time to figure out where to go for an extended weekend in Oct, I knew just the place to go! Cork Jazz Festival.

We arrived in the morning on Thursday morning, and since we weren’t able to meet our airbnb host until the evening, we had to stay occupied for the day. Joe has never been to Cork before, so we grabbed a quick breakfast at Drake’s and made our way up to the university campus to check out my old stomping grounds. By the time we made it back to the city centre, we were cold, tired, and needed a rest. As it hit evening, we knew we needed to find somewhere for dinner.

Irish Italian was the pick of the evening and a good one at that. Luigi Malone’s across from the Cork Opera House ended up being very reasonably priced with good portions and a great atmosphere. We ended up sitting across from two couples on holiday from Texas, and spent the better part of the evening in conversation with them.

The next day was full of adventure around the city, but the highlight of the afternoon was heading over to the Cork School of Music to listen to the Grace Kelly Group perform as well as listen to Peter King, one of the great jazz legends, speak. We headed back to the city centre to SoHo Bar & Restaurant for dinner, and then downstairs to listen to a bit of the live music before hopping around a few other bars to see what was on.

Our last full day in Cork ended up being the best of them all. We checked out my old flat and neighbourhood before heading back downtown for lunch with an old acquaintance from Uni there. After lunch we walked around the main road and shops a bit before running into a parade for the festival. It reminded be of a 4th of July parade, made up only of jazz groups representing each type of jazz out there, and dressed to match. Some groups even had dancers showing the style that went alongside the music. The entire thing seemed so nonchalant, right down the middle of the city.

Dinner was at the brilliantly named Bull & Coq, where a selection of creatively named steak and chicken dishes are served. The wait for a table was a but longer than desired but given we forgot to call in advance, I guess we deserved it. Oh, and note for the future- when giving the guy at reception your name to add to the waiting list, don’t tell him Murphy if you’re in Ireland. Just trust me on that one.

Post supper took us to several different bars again, but this time around we swung by the Old Oak too. One of the largest pubs in Cork, the Old Oak is known for it’s huge performances and nightlife, and we definitely got a great show! See the videos below, as words can’t even begin to describe what we got to experience!

Sunday left just enough time for brunch before heading off to the airport, so we went to the most appropriate place in town- Captain America’s. Some nachos and loaded chips to fill up on before the flight, and we were on our way!

Just a few short days back in Cork and I’m already itching to go back again. Only next time it’ll be warm and nice out…