My Weekend: Volunteering at the Jazz festival was a great way to hear some of the music and musicians who played

‘Here’s to Ireland’s first big festival in more than 18 months’ — Guinness Cork Jazz Festival chairwoman Fiona Collins is getting ready for a busy weekend ahead
My Weekend: Volunteering at the Jazz festival was a great way to hear some of the music and musicians who played

Fiona Collins, chairperson, Guinness Cork Jazz Festival. Picture: Denis Minihane.

TELL us a little bit about yourself.

I’m originally from Bandon, but have been living in the city for a number of years.

I work for Chartered Accountants Ireland as a regional co-ordinator. It’s a great job taking in marketing, PR and customer management, as well as events management and the different elements that involves. It’s constantly changing. I also do some part-time lecturing in CIT (Cork Institute of Technology — now Munster Technological University), which I enjoy as well.

I started at the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival many years ago as a volunteer who enjoyed jazz. I grew up in a house with lots of music but, while mum is a bit of an opera buff, I somehow developed a taste for jazz.

Volunteering at the festival was a great way to hear some of the music and musicians that played during the festival.

After working as a volunteer, I started serving on the organising committee. It’s still a voluntary role, but it carries a bit more responsibility these days.

It takes a lot of people to organise and run the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival. It’s an honour as chair to get to liaise with all of them, and see the different elements that just add to the entire festival and the work that goes into it. The Guinness Cork Jazz Festival has been going in Cork since 1978 and is part of Cork’s story since.

Fiona Collins with jazz musician Courtney Pine, enjoying the Cork Jazz Festival previously. Picture: Kieran Harnett
Fiona Collins with jazz musician Courtney Pine, enjoying the Cork Jazz Festival previously. Picture: Kieran Harnett

With the challenges that Covid has brought, it has meant so many changes to businesses, and to the arts industry especially, so I am thrilled that we are one of the first main festivals back on.

I love being a part of the story of the festival and the story of Cork. I hope my contribution and that of the committee add in a small way to what makes Cork great. I always remind people that, while visitors come over the weekend for a jazz experience, they will leave with a Cork experience, and it is very important that they enjoy it while they are here.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

Friday night can depend on how busy my week has been. Having a night curled up on the couch with a glass of wine sounds like a salve for a busy week. It is great to get out too and see what is happening around the city, so I’m really looking forward to the buzz this weekend.

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

During Covid, I have to say that I returned to my natural night owl tendencies… so while I like the idea of being a morning person, it doesn’t always work out that way.

Does work creep into your weekends at all?

Sure, but I don’t mind that — the weekend is great to tidy things up or to plan things out for the next week. It can make the work week flow easier and make sure that I am looking after things.

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

I love travelling, getting to experience new places and new food. It would be fabulous to hire out a massive villa for family somewhere like the Amalfi coast and just eat wonderful Italian food. Of course, there would have to be a girls’ weekend as well — Paris maybe, or New York. Or both?

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

We’re very lucky in Cork. Being near the sea is always therapeutic and I love a walk in Fota Arboretum. It’s such a wonderful resource to have.

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

Absolutely. There’s nothing nicer than sharing time with friends and family.

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

As a spectator, you can’t beat a great gig, but hobbies give me time to myself, whether that’s reading (I have a huge pile of books beside my bed), getting out for a walk, or doing some yoga, which allows me some headspace which is very important.

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

I love having someone cook for me — how nice is that? When I entertain, I do a good roast chicken and a good cheese board if that counts. I am not really a dessert person; it’s always about the cheese.

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

Coffee first always: Badger & Dodo, The Three Fools, Coffee Roaster… do I have time to list them all? Really, we’re spoilt in Cork with the quality of restaurants and food that’s available but, to be honest, it’s anywhere there is good food and good company.

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

Sunday evening is normally spent prepping for the week ahead — sometimes I’ll try and prep something for the freezer too, so I don’t have to worry about dinner during the week.

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

Well, this weekend is a bank holiday, so it may not go off at all.

The Guinness Cork Jazz Festivaltarget="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> takes place this bank holiday weekend, from October 22 to 25. Now in its 43rd year, excitement is building as music fans will get that long-anticipated thrill of hearing live music again. For more or to purchase tickets see: guinnessjazzfestival.com.

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