The pandemic forced me home... it's been so brilliant being back

In our 'My Weekend' feature, Yseult Cooper Stockdale talks about life in lockdown and a very special upcoming concert in Cork
The pandemic forced me home... it's been so brilliant being back

Yseult Cooper Stockdale.

TELL us a little bit about yourself:

I’m a freelance cellist, born and raised in Cork. I spent many years going to the Cork School of Music, but after moving to Dublin for my undergrad, I haven’t lived here full time in nearly 10 years.

The pandemic in March 2020 forced me to come home and stay put and for that I’m very very grateful! I moved from London last year and it’s been so brilliant being back and getting to engage more with the music scene here.

That anything at all is happening in these difficult times is something to be immensely proud of, and thanks to so many Cork-based ambitious musicians and organisers you could almost say the scene is thriving.

I’ve recently been involved in the Fuaim series in UCC, playing with the legendary Vanbrugh, and over the next few weeks I’ve some lovely projects coming up. First I’ll be performing with Fionnuala Moynihan and Musici Ireland as part of the Mozart Festival at Triskel – such a gorgeous programme. This goes online on April 2 and 3. Next up is a concert with my ensemble, the Spero Quartet, recently formed with fellow Cork musicians Siun Milne and David Kenny, along with Canadian violinist Brigid Leman. We’re the first in a series of fantastic concerts organised by the National String Quartet Foundation, going live from the Triskel again on April 16. We’re all missing live gigs and audiences, but this is the next best thing before we can be reunited.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

I really love to cook, and like to eat even more, so a Friday night usually consists of me or one of my housemates cooking for each other. Over this past year I think everyone has been trying to find a way of breaking up the monotony of weeks where every day feels the same – so our way of combating this has been to ring in the weekend with a feast.

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

Oh I wish I could say up at the lark – I absolutely love the buzz of an early morning rush, but lately those have been pretty rare so nearly every day is a little lie-in at the moment!!

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

My schedule varies so much week to week so “living for the weekend” is really not a thing for me! I think as a freelancer you have to learn to enjoy your time off when you get it, even if that’s a Monday morning when everyone’s on the daily grind, and appreciate your work when that comes too – even if you haven’t a free weekend for months.

Yseult Cooper Stockdale.
Yseult Cooper Stockdale.

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

Never mind money, if the travel ban were no object ... right now I’d want to go on a break to New Zealand to experience a mask-free and Covid-free weekend, and I’d go on my own. Craving newness and freedom clearly.

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

Well, the Marina is within my 5k at the moment so I’ve been loving going for long walks along there, usually with a delicious coffee in hand. 

However, I’ve been craving the sea recently – big plans to do a staycation along the west coast this summer! We are so so lucky to have so much beauty on our doorstep.

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

This year it’s been lovely finally being in the same city as my closest family again. My dad and uncle are living within walking distance from me and I’ve been increasingly grateful for this. We’re sticking to a few walks on the weekends for now but I can’t wait to be able to sit and have a meal with them again.

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

I’ve always really enjoyed drawing and painting and I’m finally getting to dedicate a bit more time to this recently – at the moment I’ve been putting my energies into making little cards and portraits for friends, and it’s one of my favourite ways to spend an evening. It’s so therapeutic when you get into a flow.

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

Entertain, without a doubt. I’m in my element when I’ve forced a big bunch of friends to sit around me to eat what I’ve made – no signature dishes but I’m a big fan of Ottolenghi, so there have been a lot of fragrant veggie dishes on my table the last while.

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

Unfortunately I haven’t had the time I’d want to fully explore Cork’s food scene with the restaurants being closed but I’ve always been a fan of Market Lane, and recently enough discovered Iyer’s; really delicious food for such good value.

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

I love yoga and some amazing teachers have been forced online, which actually can be a wonderful thing, especially as you can “attend a class” taking place anywhere in the world now. I like to find a slow flow or a Yin sequence for a cosy way to end the week ... but sometimes a few glasses of wine does the job too.

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

This would have seemed incomprehensible to me 12 months ago, but I’ve virtually stopped using an alarm. I live with three very early risers, and I normally hear them bouncing around the house in the mornings, which gets me out of bed. Recently, with so much of my work being self-motivated, or happening later in the day, I’d be worried I’d sleep in til noon if I was left unchecked. The guilt of knowing everyone else in my house is being productive gets me up and about.

Yseult Cooper Stockdale will perform in the Mozart Festival at Triskel, Friday 2 and Saturday 3 April, and with the Spero Quartet on Friday 16 April. Tickets €10 from

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