“ OF all the places you could get stuck in during a pandemic, being in Cork is a luxury,” says Dario Cascio, who is from Palermo in Sicily.
His video project, ‘The Sicilian Wanderer’, tells stories about Ireland and Sicily with beautiful visuals. It’s Dario’s passion, a week-end activity that he does without sponsorship.
“I am just a guy with a camera, roaming around Cork, making videos,” he said.
Dario has made a video of The Lough with a fascinating accompanying folk tale that not everyone will be familiar with. He has also filmed UCC from various perspectives as well relating the story of Thaddeus McCarthy and his connection with the North Cathedral. Other subject matter includes the story of the wrestler, Danno O’Mahony from Ballydehob.
Dario, 38, a father of two, first came to Ireland in 2010. Prior to that, he studied international relations at university. He was in a power metal band and had done three European tours.
“I thought my life was going to be in music but that didn’t happen. I failed miserably! But we made some albums that sold well enough. However, I was looking for a job because there was no money in the music.”
Dario got a job in Montreal in Canada working as a video games tester.
“I was 25 when I went to Canada and I stayed there for two and a half years. Then I decided to go back to Europe and worked in Germany for a while.
“When I got the opportunity to move to Ireland, I absolutely fell in love with the country.”
Initially, Dario worked in Dun Laoghaire which he describes as “a little paradise” right outside Dublin city.
“My fiancée (an Italian) and I decided to get married there. We had a Sicilian style wedding in an Italian restaurant there. We now have two beautiful children aged seven and four. They speak with strong Cork accents.”
Before moving to Cork, Dario was posted to Galway and stayed there for three years.
“I love the west,” he adds.
After that , Dario and his wife moved to Cork and live in Blackpool.
“I absolutely love the people. I love the city when it rains and when it’s sunny,” he says.
“There’s that beautiful feeling of living in a city that has everything but without the feeling of being lost in a major city.
“I can go to work without having to wait hours and hours in traffic. It’s something I prioritise.”
Dario isn’t bothered by the weather, which can manifest every season within a short space of time.
“After two winters in Montreal where it was minus 35 degrees, I’m not really scared of anything. Cork can be a bit problematic when you have a week without any sun. But it’s a lovely place to raise a family.
“We absolutely adore the school the kids go to (North Presentation Primary School). It’s absolutely fantastic the way the kids are treated there. We’re very happy here.”
Appreciative of Cork’s cuisine culture, Dario says he is “not a classic Italian complainer who says Italian food is the only food”.
He adds: “I love Irish cuisine and with Cork being the culinary capital (of Ireland), there is so much on offer.”
Dario likes to cook, mainly Sicilian food. His favourite dish is arancine which is fried rice balls. He also likes to cook pasta and fried aubergine.
Dario is a fan of Casanova, the gelato parlour on Cork’s George’s Quay, which is run by Italians. Proper gelato has “a creamy beautiful taste” rather than the more icy ice-cream masquerading as gelato, he says.
There are similarities between the history of the islands of Sicily and Ireland, says Dario. Sicily he said, “has had a lot of different dominations and kingdoms that came and left. A lot of us, me included, just left.
“After graduating, there was no real chance for me in Sicily. My story is similar to a lot of other people. I wasn’t actually forced out. It was a choice.
“There is a huge history of diaspora with 100 million Irish people living outside of Ireland and about the same number of Sicilians living outside of Sicily. Both countries’ emigrants went to the same places; the U.S, Canada and Australia.”
Dario collects stories about special places in Cork that are not necessarily widely known. The legend of the Lough concerns King Corc who had a castle where the Lough is now. People came from all over but the king built a wall to keep the water for himself.
Dario explained: “Guests at the castle complained there was no water so the king got his golden jug and asked his daughter to open the gates and get water for the guests. But she fell into the water because the jug was so heavy. No-one died. They’re still there.”
Book fairs are invaluable for Dario who buys old volumes about Ireland and does the same when he’s in Sicily.
“I’m trying to connect Sicily and Ireland. We share similar values and have a similar history as well as beautiful places and stories.”
Dario is interested in making videos about historical Cork businesses for free “to help them with their marketing.”
He has in his sights Lenihan’s Sweet factory in Shandon and Meitheal Mara in Cork city.
Irish drinking habits are different to those of Sicilians.
“The Irish pub culture doesn’t exist anywhere else. I love Irish pubs but they can be problematic. I’m from more of a wine culture. Wine is taken with food rather than just opening a bottle and drinking it on its own. My favourite drink and pub in Cork is rebel red at the Franciscan Well.”
Check out EchoLive.ie where we will share a video that Dario has made all about Danno O’Mahony.
ABOUT DANNO O’MAHONY
Danno, from Ballydehob, a wrestler who was a world heavyweight champion, was born in 1912.
“He worked on the family farm until he enrolled in the national army,” says Dario.
“He was brought to the U.S in 1934 by Paul Bowser, a wrestling promoter, who was looking for the next Irish star wrestler.”
Danno lost his first fight but went on to win 49 in a row. It made him “one of the biggest stars worldwide.
“He fought for and won the world title in Boston and was the first Irish heavyweight champion.”
After a while, Danno’s popularity waned. “He was double-crossed by another promoter. He went on to fight for a few years to make money. Then he decided to move to LA where he opened a restaurant and continued to fight when he had time.
“When World War II started, Danno enlisted in the U.S army and left for Europe. Later, he came back to Ireland but he died tragically in a car accident in 1950,” said Dario.
There is a statue of this famous wrestler in Ballydehob.
For more on Dario’s work see www.thesicilianwanderer.com.