Music takes you out of yourself when you least expect it, says Cork musician and festival organiser

In our Person to Person feature, we chat to musician Caoilian Sherlock, of the Quarter Block Festival
Music takes you out of yourself when you least expect it, says Cork musician and festival organiser
Caoilian Sherlock Picture: Brid O'Donovan

Musician Caoilian Sherlock is proud of what the Quarter Block Festival has achieved over the past six years

Tell us about yourself;

I’m Caoilian Sherlock — I’m a musician from Cork city. I perform with a few bands, The Shaker Hymn and The Tan Jackets, as well as my own solo stuff.

I also work with festivals based in Cork such as It Takes A Village in Trabolgan and Quarter Block Party, which is a DIY music and arts festival that takes place every February. This year will be the sixth edition the festival held, between Thursday and Sunday, February 6 to 9, all around Shandon, North Main Street and up towards Barrack Street and Douglas Street.

Where were you born?

I was born in Lambeth in south London and lived in Brixton for a year or so before my mother came back to Cootehill, Co. Cavan where she grew up.

We moved to Cork before I knew it and now I say I am born and bred, even though it’s not strictly the truth.

Where do you live?

I currently live around the Magazine Road / College Road area in Cork city. I’ve moved house more this past year than ever before — a sign of the times really.


Currently live with my sister Aoife, my dad Paul lives in Passage with his wife, Mags, and my other sister Sophia. The rest of my family and my mam are based in Co. Cavan where they say there is a lake for every Sherlock in the county.

Best friend?

This is too sentimental a question for me to answer without the people I love the most taking the absolute piss out of me.

Earliest childhood memory?

My Granny Phyllis gave me a man-sized Liverpool jersey when I was very small. I’ve supported Liverpool ever since — the thing was huge on me. It was red with white triangles all over it and ‘Candy’ written on the front. This year it’s been a blessing but for 30 years now it’s been a curse.

Person you most admire?

Greta Thunberg. She is a literal child trying to save the world, if I don’t say her then honestly I’m answering the question wrong.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

Had a very lovely time in Barcelona last summer at Primavera Music Festival. Got to see a lot of music and then stuck around to cure the hangover with some beers on the beach for a few days.

Favourite TV programme?

This year, it has to be Succession — what a show. For a while it’s all I talked about! I can’t wait for Season three.

Favourite radio show?

I have to give a shout out to Dublin Digital Radio, who have had a great year and are really at the forefront of changing the landscape of Irish Radio. Other than that, Cian Ó Cíobháin’s show An Taobh Tuathail on Radio Na Gaeltachta is probably the best thing going these days.

Your signature dish if cooking?

Probably a veggie carbonara, or chilli wraps. Something very fast anyway. I’m not great for planning out meals and putting in the time. Maybe this year I’ll grow as a person and buy a slow cooker or something.

Favourite restaurant?

Shout out to Pigalle on Barrack Street, they have really changed the place around the last year and are doing fantastic food and cocktails. Can’t recommend them enough.

Last book you read?

I just read Pygmalion for the first time, although that is a play I guess.

Last thing I finished was probably Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s the history of humans, which is actually a really scary look at how messed up we are a species but a really interesting read.

Best book you read?

I really loved My Year Of Rest & Relaxation by Odessa Moshfegh, which I read last year. It’s been a long time since I really loved a book entirely and got heavily involved with it, so that was a great surprise.

Favourite song?

I am currently obsessed with the new Lana Del Ray album, and my favourite song is The Next Best American Record.

One person you would like to see in concert?

I’m probably the only person in the country not to have seen Bruce Springsteen yet — so hopefully I’ll get to change that.

There’s so many though, I would also love to see Dolly Parton live — that would be next level stuff.

Morning person or night owl?

I’m both these days, I’m not great at getting up but I force myself. Playing music and working in a venue means I stay out late but there’s lots to be done the next day as well — especially right now as we are getting ready for Quarter Block Party.

Your proudest moment?

I’m proud of what we have achieved with Quarter Block Party over the last six years. There’s a moment every year when it’s all going crazy with all the shows across the city and artists coming and going, that I have to take a moment to appreciate everyone’s hard work and to acknowledge my own as well.

Name one thing you would improve in your area in which you live?

Certainly the homeless crisis is the obvious one. It seems very fixable but between politics and bureaucracy this government can’t come up with any logical plan.

I’m sure Fine Gael would have us all sleeping in cots out in one large co-living space — every one of us working for Apple or Amazon or some other gang they refuse to take tax money off.

It’s truly stunning how bad a job they are doing and getting away with it.

What makes you happy?

I like a really good concert or show when I’m not expecting it, or a night away with my friends. I like to be transported away in my mind and to forget about work and all the everyday stuff. That’s the best thing about music — how it takes you out of yourself when you least expect it.

What else are you up to at the moment?

Quarter Block Party takes place from February 6 to 9 all across Cork city. Then I’ll be working towards the It Takes A Village Festival in Trabolgan, which takes place in May.

Between all of that, I am finishing recording my debut solo album, which will come out later in the year, and I am sure I’ll be playing some shows in Cork and around the country over the summer.

Tickets for the Quarter Block Festival are on sale now

See for full festival details.

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