Sharing memories of a Cork Jewish Childhood

We catch up with Ruti Lachs in our weekly Person to Person column, ahead of Cork Heritage Open Day
Sharing memories of a Cork Jewish Childhood

PERSON TO PERSON Ruti Lachs and her trusty accordion

Ruti Lachs has created a lovely video for Cork Heritage Open Day called Memories of a Cork Childhood where different Jewish people who used to live in Cork remember their childhood and growing up in Cork. 

Tell us about yourself;

Hi. I am Ruti Lachs, a musician, writer, piano teacher, community musician living in County Cork.

Recently I seem to have turned into a historian too, researching, writing and making videos about the Jewish community in Cork, past and present.

I’ve lived in Ireland for 32 years and became a citizen two years ago.

I play piano accordion and trombone and sing - klezmer music, jazz, funk, folk and original songs, with bands Fresh Air Collective, Pop-Up Klezmer and Quangodelic. Pre-Covid I toured two one-woman comedy musical theatre shows around Ireland, Sideways on Planet Piano and A Different Kettle.

I’ve recently written a musical play set in the Jewish community in Cork city in the early 1900s, Green Feather Boa, which will hopefully be produced on the stage in a couple of years when such things are possible. I won a National Heritage Week Award in 2020 for my video and webpage Cork Jewish Culture Virtual Walk, and have just completed Memories of a Cork Jewish Childhood, a video for Cork Heritage Open Day 2021.

Where were you born?


Where do you live?



I have two adult boys, they have sensible jobs, they’re not musicians!

Best friend?

My best friend is my piano accordion. Oh, and my clarinet-playing pal Fiona.

Earliest childhood memory?

Being a good little girl.

Person you most admire?

My sister.

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

The one who gives some income to musicians and artists. And the rest to housing and health. And education.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

Most recent one was Portugal. I remember it best cos I have a bad memory and can’t remember past two years ago.

Favourite TV programme?

I don’t watch TV. 

Favourite radio show?

Ooo tricky one. John Creedon never fails. Doc on One is usually fab also.

Your signature dish if cooking?

Roasted vegetables. Utterly yummy. Bores my kids to tears.

Favourite restaurant?

Quay Co-op. Please open soon, I’m starving!

Last book you read?

Betty Miller (she was born in Cork, Jewish….. are we seeing a theme here?) On The Side of Angels.

Best book you read?

I liked the Shipping News, but I’ve loved most Dickens that I’ve read.

Last album/CD/download you bought?

My mate Mark Wilkins’ new album SoundTracking.

Favourite song?

Too many …. I write songs and it’s hard to choose one from my own repertoire or that of others. Here’s a great line from a song by Pat Allott of Quangodelic though: “Be yourself, cos everyone else is taken.”

One person you would like to see in concert?

Rory McLeod,

Do you have a pet?

No. I used to have a dog and some cats.

Morning person or night owl?


Your proudest moment?

 I think it was getting that Heritage Award last year. I felt that dad would have been very proud of me.

Spendthrift or saver?

 Save. And then splash out on a yummy meal out.

Name one thing you would improve in your area in which you live?

Add bins. Take away rubbish.

What makes you happy?

 People. The sea.

How would you like to be remembered?

As a good accordion player and loving friend.

What else are you up to at the moment?

Finishing the edit of Memories of a Cork Jewish Childhood for Cork Heritage Open Day, a video featuring former Cork residents who remember their childhoods in Ireland: their Jewish upbringing, the synagogue, the characters, the sea. Interspersed with photos from the last hundred years of life in Jewish Cork, these stories paint a picture of a time and community gone by. The video will feature on 

which will go live on Saturday August 14 to mark Cork Heritage Open Day.

Just finished recording four songs from Green Feather Boa and one new tune, The Cork Freilach, with Billy Kennedy. And I’ve just started playing a series of 10 outdoor gigs with the Fresh Air Collective – Edel Sullivan, Eileen Healy, Fintan Lucy and me.

Take a step back in time and enjoy over 45 guided tours of historic buildings in Cork as Cork Heritage Open Day takes place online on Saturday August 14 th . Click on and discover a wide range of Cork buildings including Riverstown House in Glanmire, the Quaker Meeting House and Graveyard, The Courthouse on Washington Street, Ballincollig Gunpowder Mills, Blarney Castle, St Luke’s Church and Military Museum, Collins Barracks. Enjoy wonderful archival footage of Cork, learn about the language of the Stone Masons “Bearlager na Saor and discover through postcards how the buildings of Cork have changed in the past 100 years.

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