I’m Aoife, 23 and just finishing my undergraduate degree in UCC, where I studied English. I’ve been a part of the Cork International Choral Festival since my early childhood - my mum started working with the Festival when she was about 18 so myself and my brother were kind of born into it.
This year I’m super excited to be coming back to an in-person Festival as the Box Office Coordinator.
Just a short walk away from my Nan’s house in St Finbar’s Hospital - made it quite handy for her to visit her first grandchild!
I live in Blarney, just up the road from the castle - which may explain my inability to know when to shut up! I come from a farming background so I’ve grown up surrounded by fields, hills, trees - it’s quite lovely actually.
There’s my parents, and my little brother (though he is considerably taller than me). Choral really is a family affair for us - my brother works on the Stage Management team and my mum is the Steward Coordinator. Dad normally spends the Festival weekend keeping up with farm work but slots in where he can!
There’s no way I could pick just one - I’m so lucky to have so many friends and singling out even a handful of them feels wrong. I will say that during my time in UCC, I’ve maintained relationships with old friends where possible but I’ve met some truly incredible people in my course and through my work with UCC Societies and Student Media. My boyfriend definitely comes into the mix there too - he’s always down for a laugh and some sort of adventure!
I think I was about 3, and I met my older cousin Rebecca and her dad in the local shop. She’d just gotten one of those Brunch ice creams, so because I wanted to be like her I kicked up a fuss until I got one too. Fast forward about 20 minutes and I was bored of the ice cream and it started melting down my dress and into the car…still feel a slight twinge of panic when I see a Brunch ice cream!
It definitely changes depending on what I’m reading, watching, listening to - I’m currently obsessed with a musical called Come From Away which is based on a true story set in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. One of the characters it features is of Beverly Bass, who was the first female American captain for a commercial airline. Something about the #GirlBoss energy of that really speaks to me!
Honestly, probably myself most of the time! Particularly with Final Year, I jump between either working really hard and then burning out, or procrastinating and then ending up with too much work. Sometimes I wish I could just kickstart my brain to work when I need and want it to.
My mum, for sure - I’ve never seen anyone so brilliant with a balance sheet and she’s incredibly thrifty so I would 100% trust her to prioritise and spend wisely. If anyone could allocate funds accurately, it’s her!
Last September, my boyfriend Jack took me to this tiny little village in France called Ruminghem for my birthday. He somehow found this little woodland chalet half an hour away from a railway stop. There was a fantastic proper French bakery, and a shop that was a grocery store by day and a pub/restaurant by night.
We also took a trip to the largest aquarium in Europe and then hopped back through London where we saw Come From Away. Amazingly, we saw it on the eve of the 20th Anniversary of 9/11; it’s such a moving story anyway, but it was all the more special and poignant for that.
It’s got to be Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - it’s a few years old at this stage but it’s just brilliant. By turns it is hilarious, intelligent, emotional - it combines mental health and feminism with parodies of musical theatre and pop songs. Absolute creative genius!
I’m not much of a radio listener, but I do enjoy The Arts House with Elmarie Mawe of a Sunday morning - I think it’s testament to the quality of the arts scene in Cork that there’s always something new going on.
I’m actually a massive foodie, but I like recipes that are quick and relatively cheap - I’m a big believer in raiding clearance sections in supermarkets! If I was picking my signature dish though, I love sea bass with sesame glaze and pineapple fried rice. It’s always a happy moment when I spot sea bass on offer because then I know exactly what I’m cooking for dinner!
This is almost impossible, there’s so many amazing food spots in Cork. I absolutely adore Cafe Izz or the Quay Co-op for something lighter or for lunchtime, but if I’m celebrating then I love Paradiso or Cask. I’ve also recently been introduced to Sicilian Delights, which is ideal if I need a little bit of a study break when I’m at college!
A friend of mine gifted me a copy of The Opposite of Butterfly Hunting by Evanna Lynch. She’s best known for playing Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter film series so I’ve admired her since my early teen years but her memoir is just stunning.
It’s definitely not for the faint of heart (trigger warning for eating disorders and mental health, I bawled my way through the first half) but reading it was a wonderful combination of grief, pride and compassion.
There’s a YA novel by Janet Nelson called I’ll Give You The Sun which has been a favourite of mine since I was 17. It’s got elements of mystery, romance and humour but it’s also very artsy and quirky. Such a unique style of novel, I’ve never read anything quite like it. Bonus points for LGBTQ+ representation also!
I really like the Encanto soundtrack at the moment - I’m such a Disney geek anyway and I love Lin-Manual Miranda’s work. The summer vibes and Latin feel to the soundtrack is just an instant mood booster on a rainy day.
Not sure I have a favourite but currently my top track is I Bet You Think About Me by Taylor Swift. I know, a bit cliche for a female twenty-something but I’ve loved Taylor since I was quite young and I admire how her music seems to grow with her to reflect where she is in her life.
We have two dogs in our household, both rescues, Belle (springer spaniel) and Clover (sheepdog) but I also have a dwarf hamster called Mionla, which means ‘forget-me-not.’ She’s also a rescue and is affectionately known as ‘squishy baba’ for her ability to stockpile her cheeks with food.
Night owl, for sure. I’m famously not good with mornings until I’ve had my coffee!
This week, I finished my last week of lectures in UCC. It feels like it’s been such a long time coming and with several challenges along the way (personal, professional, academic and of course, COVID) it’s so surreal to think it’s finally here, but I’m also just so proud that I’ve come this far and am so close to getting an actual degree.
Depends on the situation! When it comes to food I like to treat myself so I don’t mind splurging a bit but I’m a fan of secondhand and vintage shops for clothes.
Better mental health services, particularly for children and adolescents. It just makes sense to me that if young people learn coping skills earlier, they are better equipped to cope with mental health and less likely to need emergency help later on which would improve the pressure on adult mental health services - doesn’t seem like rocket science!
Weirdly I’m actually happiest when I’m working and when I’m busy. I’m always up for a new challenge and because I’ve been lucky enough to have some great opportunities particularly over the last year, it’s really satisfying to see the finished result of a project - be that a newspaper, an event or even just an essay, that feeling of achievement is unbeatable.
I think as someone who persevered and never gave up - the phrase ‘nevertheless, she persisted’ has always been something I’ve focused on.
So once the Festival is over, it’s straight into my final exams. After that, I’m hoping to spend the summer writing more - I’ve just won the Eoin Murray Scholarship for Creative Writing which is a huge honour so I can’t wait to get stuck into my writing projects. In September, I’m moving to Belfast for a year to complete an MA in Arts Management at Queen’s. All in all, exciting times ahead!
For more on the Cork International Choral Festival or to book tickets, see CorkChoral.ie