Last Christmas I was given the gift of a concert ticket – which tends to be a fail-safe option for me, thanks to my inclination towards live music. The gig was for The Stunning. The venue was the Cork Opera House. The date was St. Patrick’s Night. The company was La Famiglia. This was ideal.
I was a fan of the Stunning as a teenager.
I love Cork – not least because (despite my being born and reared in Limerick) La Famiglia parents hail from the Rebel County on both sides; but also because I have such good memories of the place. I lived in Cork for three months immediately upon graduation from college. The job I had acquired there lasted a mere fortnight. As I was staying in a student house, I was paying only fifteen pounds a week in rent. The dole paid sixty-six quid a week back in those days (along with a three pound butter voucher which the local newsagent allowed us to exchange for cider). I had suffient cash to live on during that glorious summer before adulthood began.
I’d never been to the Opera House previously, but being possessed of deep notions, I knew that it would be my kind of place.
Getting out of Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day was a bonus – not being over-enamoured of huge crowds, I tend to avoid the parades associated with our national day (or indeed any national day – Queensday for example), preferring to sing songs of triumph, loss, suffering and victory from the comfort of my living room.
The company would be my Irish Twin and Twin’s partner. (An Irish Twin is a sibling twelve month’s older or younger than you.)
This would be wonderful.
The 9am train was packed. I was collected at Kent Station and home we went. The 6-Nations Rugby tournament was concluding on Saturday. Ireland was playing England and – if victorious – would win the Grand Slam (victory over all the other nations competing – England, Scotland, Wales, France and Italy). Victory would be sweet considering the opponent and the day that was in it.
The tension in the house was palpable. These are rugby fans. Holding only a very tenuous interest in sport of any description, I took an afternoon siesta for the duration of the match. I needed to be refreshed and beautiful for the concert.
The roars of unbridled joy from downstairs meant that I didn’t need to watch the match to know the score. Ireland won.
We arrived in the city at 7pm, and made our way to the BierHaus – a craft brew emporium on the quays of the River Lee, where I bought some drinks. Despite not looking at the extensive drinks menu, I was subliminally drawn to a Grapefruit IPA. With the precision of a heat-seeking missile, I had chosen the most expensive beer on the menu – a steal at 8.60 euro a pint. Just the one then.
We crossed the river to the Opera House, and made our way to the seats. The audience was in fine form – clearly having imbibed some beverages earlier to celebrate the sporting triumph against England, on St. Patrick’s Day.
The gig was great. The Stunning were huge in Ireland during my teenage years. I could remember a handful of the bigger hits – ‘Brewing up a storm’ ; ‘Got to get away’ ; ‘She’s on my mind’. And I was reminded of many others which were radio staples, back when 2FM was the arbiter of what was good (or at least popular) in music. ‘Everything that rises’; ‘Half Past Two’ (a personal favourite); ‘Romeo’s on fire’ among many others.
The atmosphere was electric – the band, the day, the sporting victory, the memories. An excellent concert, that transported me back to my earlier days in the Real Capital (as local denizens humourously refer to Cork). Thoroughly enjoyable.
This morning I took the bus to the real capital (no capital letters for Dublin – they are the official capital so don’t require them). It was a most entertaining journey – watching the snow storm out the window, eavesdropping on the English couple seated behind me who were stressing whether their flight home from Dublin would be cancelled. I decided against telling them of my recent adventure, during the hurricane two weeks ago, of taking an overnight ferry to London. That would have been cruel. (You can read about THAT adventure at this LINK.
Home again, after my 24 hour trip down south. A most splendid little getaway.