My Weekend: This weekend I will be in the thick of things at the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival

Michael Lyons is Trade Sales Manager at Diageo Ireland
My Weekend: This weekend I will be in the thick of things at the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival
MY WEEKEND Pictured is Michael Lyons, Diageo at the announcement of a globally-renowned line up of Jazz greats for the 42nd GUINNESS Cork Jazz Festival. Picture: Clare Keogh.

Michael Lyons is Trade Sales Manager at Diageo Ireland, here he talks about his work, family and how he likes to spend his weekends

Tell us a bit about yourself:

I’m a Cork man, originally from the Model Farm Road and now living in Donoughmore with my wife Elaine and two boys Ryan and Scott (aged four and 12). I studied Civil Engineering in UCC and worked as a site engineer in Ireland and the UK before I got a role in Diageo 30 years ago. Since then I have worked in Beer Quality, Customer Marketing and Sales. Diageo is an amazing company where I work with great people, great brands and great customers.

I’m now Diageo’s sales manager for the South of Ireland. My role is very varied but basically it is to be the custodian of our brands in the on trade market in my region. I have a team of 10 people who are responsible for the distribution, visibility and quality of our brands. With brands like Guinness, Smirnoff, Baileys, Rockshore, Hophuse and Gordons Gin to name a few, it is an exciting and challenging role. I am also responsible for sponsorships in my region and I am lucky that includes the iconic Guinness Cork Jazz festival, now in its 42nd year!

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night.

Usually I spend Friday evening driving my kids to a Hurling or Rugby game/training. They play for Na Piarsaigh Hurling club and Muskerry RFC.

Of course on Friday of this weekend, I will be in the thick of things at the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival.

The festival will officially open in spectacular flare on Friday evening at 7pm with a big ‘Blaze of Jazz’ parade through the city streets. This red-hot parade will consist of a mix of sizzling jazz bands and fiery Cork characters and is the perfect opportunity to get into the swing of all things jazz for the weekend ahead, so come into town early and get ready for a phenomenal weekend of music and entertainment.

More than 1,000 musicians from 20 countries will perform in 70 venues over five days, with an incredible 95% of performances being staged for free.

I’m really looking forward to seeing some of the headline acts like the legendary jazz singer, Kurt Elling, who plays City Hall Cork on Saturday night, not to mention 2018 jazz pianist of the year, Fred Hersch, who performs as part of a double bill with the world famous Northern Irish trumpeter, Linley Hamilton in the Everyman Theatre on Sunday evening, and Motown diva, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, who take to the stage in City Hall on Sunday night.

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

Up at 6.15am every weekday to make sure the kids get to school on time. The workday then starts at 8am.

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

Because of the nature of the job, we are often hosting or running events at the weekend. My role also involves a lot of planning so I do tend to spend a few hours at the weekend planning the week ahead – Elaine has threatened to burn my laptop on many occasions but now she just accepts my excuses!

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

I love golf and would love to play in Augusta National, Georgia. I am not so selfish to think I could get there with a bunch of golf buddies so I would go there with the family. Ryan (who is a far better player than me) would play, Scott would drive the buggy and Elaine could admire the Azaleas on Amen Corner!

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

We have two dogs, a German Shepherd and an Olde English Sheepdog. We take them to Ballincollig regional park. What a facility, great walks, playground, summer yoga, park runs, playing pitches and a lovely mobile coffee shop.

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

My weekends revolve mainly around my kids and their sports. My mother is 88 and still lives at home on the Model Farm Road. She is a mighty woman who lives alone and has a razor sharp mind. She has loads of great neighbours. I try to catch up with her as often as possible – like most mothers she believes I constantly ignore her and don’t call enough!

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

I love golf but I don’t get to play enough due to work commitments. I have practiced Yoga for 20 years, it is great for flexibility and muscle tone. I walk 5km most evenings, it is a good way to get away from the madness of a fighting 12 and 14 year old!

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

I am not proud of it, but I couldn’t boil an egg! I am lucky to have two great cooks in the house, Scott and Elaine. Nobody makes Spaghetti Bolognese like Scott and Elaine!

I love eating out in pubs, the atmosphere is great, it’s great value and great quality… and I love Guinness with my food!

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

I love the Sandwich Stall in the English Market for lunch, you can’t beat the ravioli in Iago on Princes Street, the coffee and scones in Griffins Garden centre are top notch and Café Paradiso is the No1 for a special meal.

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

The kids love Ireland's Fittest Families so we will watch that together, I will then do an hour of planning for the week ahead and after the kids have gone to bed I might watch a movie. I watched The Green Book last Sunday – what an uplifting, inspirational, true life story about the power of friendship, a must-see.

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

Most Mondays it will go off at 6.15 but next Monday following what will be another epic Jazz festival, it may be a few hours later!

The 42nd Guinness Cork Jazz Festival takes place until Monday 28th October. For the full line up and to book tickets see

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