My Weekend: I named one of my songs after my favourite beach, Inchydoney

Musician Emily Magner Hurley will perform songs from her debut album in a free online concert tonight, as part of Cork County Culture Night
My Weekend: I named one of my songs after my favourite beach, Inchydoney

Emily Magner Hurley

Tonight, (Friday, September 18) Emily Magner Hurley will perform from her first album, Airs & Graces' online as part of Cork County Culture Night, from 7.30pm to 8.30pm.

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I’m originally from Whitechurch but moved to West Cork three years ago where I live with my wonderful and incredibly supportive husband, Con. I grew up in a very musical family. My father John plays the guitar and I regularly sang in three part harmony with my mother Maria and sister Gemma. We had a piano in the sitting room. I wrote my first melody on it aged five and my first song aged thirteen. Much of my music formation was in Coláiste an Chroí Naofa, Carraig na bhFear. I took on composing on a much deeper level in the Music Department in UCC, where I studied for a master’s degree in composition.

By day I teach music and Irish in Edmund Rice College, Carrigaline, and in the evenings I compose. 

“Airs and Graces” is my first album and is debuting online on Culture Night. It’s a fusion of traditional and classical music that I started writing two years ago and finished during lockdown. 

This is my second playing host to a concert of myCulture Night recital with St Mary’s Dominican Church, Pope’s Quay sacred choral music last year. Culture Night is such a great platform for people, it is so accessible to everyone because it is free. In some ways, bringing the concert online makes the performance even more accessible. I am so lucky that Jeffers’ Pianos in Bandon are hosting me. I know it is difficult to replicate the buzz of a live performance but hopefully my music will bridge the gap.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

Friday night is prosecco night!!! I love nothing better than being with my husband, on the sofa, watching a movie in front of the fire, with a glass of magic bubbles.

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

Always lie ins, and numerous snoozes throughout the day (except when I’m teaching!!).

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

I try not to let it, but sometimes, it’s inevitable. Teachers always bring work home with them. It’s the nature of the job. I take great pride in my work. I think it is very important for people to let their brains breath. It was Isaac Newton who made the discovery of gravity, while resting under a tree after all! I don’t really regard my music making as work. If I did, I would always be working!

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

I’d go with my husband to Venice, sail up and down the grand canal, catch an opera or two at La Fenice and have some gnocci and a glass of Moscato in the Hotel Bauer. Buonissimo!

One of Emily's favourite beaches, Inchydoney, West Cork, which she named one of the songs on her new album, after. Picture Dan LInehan
One of Emily's favourite beaches, Inchydoney, West Cork, which she named one of the songs on her new album, after. Picture Dan LInehan

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

I am so lucky to live in West Cork. There are so many beautiful beaches to choose from. There is something healing about the sea. There are not many things in life that can make you feel both calm and alive at the same time. The waves do that for me. One of the tracks on my album is called after one of my favourite beaches, Inchydoney.

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

I do, I meet my father and sister for invaluable catch ups, dinner and chats, and play out all the events of the week. My mother-in-law, Fidelma, cooks a serious roast dinner! I love catching up with other family and friends too, going out for a meal/meeting for lunch and having a great laugh. You know who you are!

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

I love art. I sketch, but not as often as I would like. Watching documentaries on Sky Arts and BBC4 is inspiring. I used to be a regular set dancer, which of course is out of the question at the moment. I have had so much fun leaping around on the dancefloor with friends. I have adopted a grá for online shopping! I love swimming. I just love sitting in a coffee shop, reading, contemplating life and singing at the top of my voice and drumming on the steering wheel while driving my commute! It really is “the little things”.

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

Entertain. It’s an essential form of expression, for me. I also really appreciate being entertained, because I know how much body and soul goes into performing. If I wasn’t performing on Culture Night, I’d be busy marking out events to attend.

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

I have a particular draw to French Church Street. I love the cosmopolitan atmosphere there. Any of the restaurants up and down that street are amazing. I just love the décor of the Bodega and also of the Church restaurant in Skibbereen. I also love the Kingsley, especially the seating out the back by the river, and Gearóidín’s lemon meringue pie in Clonakilty is out of this world!

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

I usually have to prep for the week ahead but at the moment I spend the time rehearsing at the piano, and then Con and I wind down by sitting in front of the fire, with a cup of something and a few cearnóga of dark chocolate.

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



September 18, 7.30pm to 8.30pm: Live Concert: Airs and Graces takes place online, featuring a live-streamed concert of new original piano music by composer-performer Emily Magner Hurley. Enjoy music spanning the traditional Irish and 19th century classical genres. All works taken from Magner Hurley’s debut album, ‘Airs and Graces’.

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