Being at home in Ireland makes me happy

There are exciting times ahead, says, Ruairí Donovan, who is behind the Quarter Block Party this February
Being at home in Ireland makes me happy
Ruairí Donovan choreographer and a curator from Cork. Picture by Robbie Sweeny

TELL us about yourself;

My name is Ruairí Donovan and I am a choreographer and a curator from Cork. I am part of the team who produce Quarter Block Party, Cork’s most exciting arts festival.

Quarter Block Party takes place every year at the start of February along North and South Main Street and we bring the best of Irish and international live art and live music to Cork.

I’m an artist by trade and make things that sit somewhere between theatre and dance. I’ve had sold-out shows up at The Lough at the crack of dawn and in theatres across the city and my award-winning work often takes me on tour in Europe, Canada, and the USA.

When I’m not working, I’ve given myself the task of trying to improve mo chuid Gaeilge. I’ve a real ghrá for the language and am trying to improve by speaking it day to day at home and abroad.

Where were you born?

In the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork.

Where do you live?

That’s a difficult question, because of my work I am a bit of nomad, Cork city is definitely a base, but I am studying for a Masters in Amsterdam at the moment, and my research means I spend a lot of time in the Gaeltacht as well. When I’m not at home I’m on tour and living out of my suitcase!


Sure — Mom and Dad, Mary and Domi, one brother, David, who has two beautiful kids, Oliver and Mila, with his beautiful partner Marketa. Oh, and of course a list of chosen family as long as my arm.

Best friend?

Cathy Walsh, we met doing our undergrad in UCC, we’ve been working together and causing trouble ever since!

Earliest childhood memory?

I remember my nan cooking up fried potatoes and sausages for me in her tiny kitchen in Ballyphehane. She is dearly missed in our house.

Person you most admire?

President Micheal D. Higgin’s —what a gentleman and poet! Such a phenomenal representative for Ireland, considering the shower in power elsewhere at the moment.

Person who most irritates you?

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar — all frills and no knickers! Such a disappointment in leadership, and for the first openly out gay Taoiseach, I think it’s terrible that he is so conservative in the face of economic, housing and medical crises here in Ireland.

Who would you like to see as Minister for Finance and why?

Grace Dyas — she is an activist and a theatre maker from inner city Dublin. She’s been speaking truth with her work for social justice as long as I’ve known her. I think she would be a force to reckon with and might actually put the people of this country first instead of the interests of bankers, landlords and cronies!

Where was your most memorable holiday?

We were in San Francisco, California in 2015 performing and after the show came down we piled into a friend’s van and drove through the night to Yosemite Park. Waking up the next morning between El Capitan and The Half Dome, towering 3,000 and 5,000 feet over us, made for the most scenic breakfast I’ve ever had. I love the West Coast and try to get over there once a year if I can.

Favourite TV programme?

I really enjoy Vikings on the History Channel, and it’s shot in Ireland.

Favourite radio show?

I’ve got to say Blindboy from the Rubberbandits is doing something really interesting with his podcast.

Your signature dish if cooking?

Hanger Steak from the English Market, melted blue cheese, mushrooms and onions fried in butter. Triple Fried Potato Chips, game over!

Favourite restaurant?

Joint favourite is Miyazaki on Evergreen Street and Iyer’s on Pope’s Quay.

Last book you read?

Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky, a great read about how cod shaped the migration of people across the Atlantic, fascinating tying our history to Newfoundland, the Basque people, the Nordic folks, and even the Innuit!

Best book you read?

Dave Eggers — A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius — does exactly what it says on the tin!

Last album/CD/download you bought?

O Emperor, who we are delighted to have at Quarter Block Party this year after a break from live gigs over the last while! Definitely not to be missed and totally worth a listen. There is so much great Irish music being recorded at the moment, Lankum, Anna Mieke and Ye Vagabonds also on the go at the moment.

Favourite song?

Love My Way — Psychedelic Furs.

One person you would like to see in concert?

I’d give an arm and leg to have seen David Bowie in concert or I’d like to see Mykki Blanco again, they are still with us and it was probably the best gig I’ve ever been to.

Do you have a pet?


Morning person or night owl?

Definitely a night owl — I find it very hard to get out of the bed in the morning.

Your proudest moment?

Probably performing in New York for the first time. The audiences were incredible, the reviews were great and I couldn’t help singing “If I can make it there, Ill make it anywhere” walking around the city.

Spendthrift or saver?

Spendthrift, I would say. I’m not reckless with money, but I know you can’t take it with you and it’s there to be spent. Life is short, spoil the people you love, support charities you believe in, eat well and be happy.

Name one thing you would improve in your local area?

Access to mental health services — or even just the conversation around mental health. So many people are lost in Cork due to mental health issues. We have to act!

What makes you happy?

Being at home in Ireland. I travel so much with work that I really value the time to be at home with friends and family. There is nothing like it.

How would you like to be remembered?


What else are you up to?

I’m rehearsing a piece I made about walking the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland last year because it’s going on tour to the states for Paddy’s Day, and putting the finishing touches on Quarter for 2018… it’s going to be the biggest and best yet!


Quarter Block Party is set to inject colour, energy, and life into the historic spine of Cork city this February.

Venture into the street’s unique venues, including St Peter’s Church, Triskel Christchurch, Spailpín Fánach, and AMP on Hanover street, or wander the exciting range of pop-up and public art events in the shops and outdoor spaces to discover some of the freshest high-calibre artists in music, theatre and dance.

Presented by Makeshift Ensemble and Southern Hospitality Board, Cork’s unassuming Old Quarter will, for the fourth year running, become the centre of the city’s entertainment world as more than 50 music, art and theatre performances take over North and South Main streets, from Friday, February 2 to Sunday, February 4, 2018.

For full details, visit

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