My Weekend: I love all the outdoor dining in Cork this year and hope to see even more

Erin O’Brien, Cork Centre co-ordinator with Cork City Council talks about the challenges and opportunities found during this Covid year and how she’s excited to see Reimagine Glow
My Weekend: I love all the outdoor dining in Cork this year and hope to see even more

Erin O’Brien, City Centre Coordinator with Cork City Council.

Tell us a little bit about yourself

My name is Erin O’Brien. I’m the City Centre Co-ordinator with Cork City Council and a resident of the ‘Marsh’ in the heart of the city. It’s a long way from my car-centric childhood in rural Nebraska, which included a ‘drive through’ bank and driving myself to school at age 14. My journey to Cork was via Texas.

One day while driving to work on the six-lane expressway I realised - this does not really make sense. I became an urban/community planner and have been working in Ireland since 2003.

2020 has been a busy year working with my council colleagues and the community in response to the Covid-related need for fresh air and more space. While some of the changes to ‘Re-Imagine’, the city centre are physical (like more greening and improved cycle facilities), re-imagining festivals and creating safe ways of enjoying the city are also key. I’m excited to see “Re-imagine Glow” in the city centre this Christmas. Instead of the park this year, we have a festive windows trail where popular panto titles will be brought to life from Cinderella, Peter Pan, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Hansel & Gretel, and more. And the Ferris Wheel has returned to Grand Parade.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

Winding down from the busy work week with friends over a few low-key drinks and a bite to eat. This Friday I’m looking forward to the re-opening of restaurants, and I will also fit in some late-night shopping and a look at the magical Panto windows trail.

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

A mix, but more early starts.

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

Since my work is the city centre, it’s almost inevitable — queries from someone I meet on the street or something I see that will need attentionon on Monday morning.

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

This year has felt so out of sync, it’s truly difficult to imagine travel at the minute. A trip to Limerick would feel pratically exotic right now!

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

Woods are my favourite place to recharge—this summer included the magical Rineen near Glandore and giant sequoias in Glengarra near Cahir. During Level 5, it’s been the new “Tree Trail” at the Marina.

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

Always. My Saturday morning begins at the Coal Quay Farmer’s Market and drifts into walks and coffees around the city centre. This weekend will include the new Ardú self-guided art trail and stops at some of the cultural venues that just re-opened.

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

Earth building is a new passion of mine, and I love to read. At the minute it’s learning about the history of capitalism.

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

Definitely be entertained; some of my friends are fabulous cooks.

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

I can’t pick favourites in this job! I literally go everywhere. I love all the outdoor dining that has happened this year and hope to see even more of it in 2021.

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

Often it’s a time to catch up with distant friends and family, sometimes over ‘virtual’ dinner.

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

Always 6.23....though sometimes it takes me a little longer to actually get up.

 The Glow ferris wheel on the Grand Parade, Cork reflected in the River Lee at high tide. Picture: Dan Linehan
The Glow ferris wheel on the Grand Parade, Cork reflected in the River Lee at high tide. Picture: Dan Linehan


Experience the magic of Christmas at Reimagine GLOW which is organised by Cork City Council and runs until early January. Re-imagine GLOW features a magical Windows Pantomime Trail which is an ode to Panto in Cork and the much loved and iconic 32m Ferris Wheel. See

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