Living Leeside: From bustling London to quiet water’s edge

Living Leeside: From bustling London to quiet water’s edge
Londoner Ian Brown who is living at the former Old Oyster Creek pub in Brownsmills , near Kinsale Picture: Eddie O'Hare

FROM the heart of London to the bosom of West Cork, Ian Brown, 56, said he and his family feel very lucky to have settled in Kinsale for the past 11 years.

An arts man with a baking past, Ian is currently the production manager at Cork’s Everyman Theatre, having returned to the profession after a six-year stint selling cakes and cookies at markets such as Kinsale, Douglas, and Mahon Point.

“It was a hard slog,” said Ian, regarding selling sweet treats.

“It was never-ending, every day was like opening night.”

The arts enthusiast, who had been working in theatre since college, said he started taking up roles again in the industry and was very lucky to get the job in The Everyman when it became available.

“I look after the production from a technical point of view,” said Ian, explaining his role in The Everyman. “From scheduling to liaising and managing meetings, I make sure things run smoothly.”

The production manager said he enjoys working in the Cork theatre.

“They do work that I am interested in, cutting-edge drama and that. It’s an easy job when you enjoy the work.”

Ian said things have been a bit strange of late, with the doors of the historic theatre closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, but he said the crew is now working hard on reopening the doors in August.

Living in Kinsale with his wife Kath and their three children, Leah, 21, Charlotte, 14, and Rachel, 12, Ian described how they made the move from a bustling city to a quaint seaside town in Cork.

“Kath got a job running the Arts Week here in Kinsale and after about three months of her commuting we all came over for a visit and that was that.”

Ian said they had been thinking about moving out of London for some time, but were reluctant to head for London suburbia.

“We had a lot of friends in London and a lot of them were moving to the suburbs to start families or because of their children,” he said.

“I grew up in the suburbs and I didn’t want to go back there.

“I was pushing for Scotland, but that was never going to happen because Kath hates the cold.”

In a radical compromise, the family decided on Kinsale where Kath had been working and things have worked out pretty well.

“It was an easy decision, Leah was at the right age and the younger ones had no strong roots. They made friends really quickly.

“We were very lucky with the welcome we received in Kinsale,” he said.

Ian’s oldest daughter Leah has followed her parents into the arts, studying at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin.

“We thought she wouldn’t touch arts with a barge pole after growing up with two parents immersed in it, but it turns out she is very talented. She is very interested in photography at the moment, she has a real eye for an image.”

Charlotte is heading into third year at Bandon Grammar School and Rachel is starting first year after finishing primary school online because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Rachel is taking it very well, she is not too bothered about it. The school will probably do some virtual thing to end the year.”

Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Living in Kinsale, right on the water’s edge, Ian and his family have developed an interest in kayaking and head out for a paddle in the fine weather frequently.

Comparing Cork to London, Ian said he sometimes misses the vast array of things to do in London.

“If it’s raining, in London you can just go to a museum you have never been to before because there are just so many,” he said.

“Here in Cork, you just end up getting a little wet!”

Despite the weather, Cork City is unique with a lovely feel to it, said Ian.

“Cork is a great city, it is not like everywhere else. It is unique.”

Ian said he has a slight worry that the city is being overtaken by office blocks and student accommodation and he hopes the cultural and historic elements of the city would prevail.

Aside from work trips, the family get back to the UK about twice a year to see their parents and siblings, said Ian.

“I get over with bits and pieces for work and Kath travels a lot with her job, but to see the family I would say we visit about twice a year.”

Looking ahead, Ian said the family would be hoping to stay in Cork, with ambitions of setting up base in the city.

“We love Kinsale, it was a good decision to move here. It is like living on a holiday.

“This summer, it looks like we will have it all to ourselves as well,” he said.

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