Wednesday 20 November 2019

Cork in the swing for all that jazz - as well as rock, pop and indie

Musicians Tomas McCarthy and Clodagh Kearney with Rory Sheridan from Diageo as the Jazz Festival gets under way in Cork
Musicians Tomas McCarthy and Clodagh Kearney with Rory Sheridan from Diageo as the Jazz Festival gets under way in Cork

Graham Clifford

Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock - all jazz legends who have headlined the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival over its 37-year history.

But tonight at the Cork Opera House this year's headline act will take to the stage to make their own piece of festival history - and there won't be a saxophone, trombone or flute in sight.

Irish rock/indie band The Coronas will have the rebel city on its feet with Roisin O, sister of Corona's frontman, Danny O'Reilly, supporting the headliners.

Other prominent artists to perform in the theatres, pubs and clubs on Leeside this weekend include Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats, Jerry Fish and the English gothic rock veteran Gary Numan.

"In recent years, we realised we had to make a decision," explains the festival director, Rory Sheridan. "We could continue to offer a festival with just jazz music and serve a loyal, but diminishing, crowd. Or we could broaden the appeal of this unique festival.

"Of course, initially the jazz purists were unsure but, faced with falling ticket sales, we had to act. Jazz is still, of course, at the heart of our festival - but it's not necessarily the soul of the festival."

With 40,000 visitors expected in Cork city over the bank holiday weekend for 'The Jazz', the formula is clearly working.

Worth an estimated €20m to the city, its roots date to October 1978 and the city's popular Metropole Hotel on MacCurtain Street.

Jim Mountjoy, a fresh-faced marketing manager, was tasked with creating an event to attract people to the hotel on what was the very first October Bank Holiday weekend.

"At the time, there weren't as many music festivals around Ireland as you have now, so there wasn't too much competition - plus, offering a jazz festival in Ireland was completely unique," explains Jack McGouran, the festival's artistic director, who has been involved since its early years.

"Sure, it took off like a rocket and it captured the imagination - and, of course, with Guinness as sponsor, the structure of the festival was secure."

To find out who is playing where and when at this year's festival, visit

Irish Independent

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment

Back to top