I sleep, breath and live music

Sam McNicholl is the third generation of his family to run the thriving music venue, Connolly’s of Leap. We talk to him about band Talos, his passion for food and enchanted West Cork
I sleep, breath and live music

Sam McNicholl owns and runs West Cork’s Connolly’s of Leap

All about Sam: 

SAM owns and runs West Cork’s thriving music venue Connolly’s of Leap.

Sam grew up in Connolly’s, like the two generations before him. His grandparents bought what was then The Central Bar in 1952 and Sam’s mother Eileen was born in the building.

Music has been a constant between these walls. Sam’s grandfather was a ballad singer and sessions took place on weeknights. Sam’s early life was filled with an eclectic mix of music and artists. Connolly’s built a strong reputation as a music venue and a place of hospitality, thanks to his dad, Paddy, who sadly passed away in 2010. Sam, just like his dad, wants the venue to be as fun and eclectic as possible.

Visit Connolly’s facebook page www.facebook.com/ConnollysOfLeap for details on upcoming gigs.

In his downtime, Sam plays drums in a band ‘Talos’ who are releasing their debut album “Wild Alee” April 21. Pre-order the album on digital and vinyl now on www.talostalos.com

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

My ideal Friday night would entail seeing an amazing band or musician in Connolly’s, my home, my venue. The candles are lit and the scene is set for in intimate beautiful show. I eat, sleep, breathe and live for music.

Lie ins or up with the lark. Which is it for you?

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my sleep… but my job is quite nocturnal. I’m usually the last one to bed and first one up in the morning, that’s the life of being a music venue owner.

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

My life is my work. And I love it. Nowadays it’s truly hard for me to find a distinction. Curating the music for the venue is a full-time job, and on top of that I go touring with my band, Talos, to other venues and festivals around Ireland. When I’m not working, I’m planning expansions for the building and looking and creative ways to grow and develop my business. I’m always switchedon or working, downtime is not really a thing if I am totally honest.

If money was no object where would you head to on a weekend city break? And who would you bring with you?

I never let money hold me back from things to be honest. BUT I have a lot of beautiful friends in Australia that I miss dearly and the flights are just that little bit expensive. For a city break? My mate Peter Hayes is always a good partner in crime. He acts as my damage control on weekend trips.

Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries?

I live in West Cork so I am actually blessed! I took me a trip around the world to realise how lucky I have been to grow up in such an enchanted place. I know people from Cork get a rap for always talking about the place but... seriously, It’s STUNNING!

Sam McNicholl of Connolly’s of Leap
Sam McNicholl of Connolly’s of Leap

Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend?

Friends are never far away here in West Cork, as everyone seems to be moving down here. My friends are my lifeblood and they (try to) keep me sane. I would be lost without them. Family I more see at holidays.

Do you get to indulge any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

Food is my true passion in life. I was recently on a food trip in Vietnam and it blew me away. During my very rare down time, I usually read about food or check out restaurants in the city. I’m really in to pickling, fermenting, picking seaweeds… I just love it.

Entertain or be entertained? If it’s the latter do you have a signature dish?

I am always the one cooking to be honest. I think my Thai green is pretty great, especially when I give it some love and care.

We have so many places to eat out in Cork — where are your go-to spots for coffee/ lunch/ special meal?

For coffee, it has to be Rocketman HQ or East. For lunch — Miyazaki Japanese is out of this world. And for dinner — Pilgrims or MEWS in West Cork.

Sunday night comes around too fast.. how do you normally spend it?

Normally in the kitchen, or reading, or rehearsing for gigs and shows or doing some renovations work on the building here in Leap.

What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning?

As I said, I am a creature of the night so alarms are not something that I use that often.

This weekend’s gigs in Connolly’s include:

Talos “Wild Alee” Album Launch, Support from Kobina, 8pm, Saturday April 15, Tickets €13.

Meanwhile on Sunday, April 16, ooSe with support from Hatchett Job (DJ) will perform at 8pm. Free admission.


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