WATCH: Busy streets in Cork city as revellers enjoy the return of the Jazz 

WATCH: Busy streets in Cork city as revellers enjoy the return of the Jazz 

The New Brass Kings from Dublin played on an open top bus which drove around Cork city centre. Picture: Andy Gibson.

CORK’S hospitality industry is celebrating what has been described as a “small victory” for the sector after the successful return of its much-anticipated jazz festival.

Long queues and Covid certificate inspections failed to deter music fans, who waited patiently to soak up the atmosphere in venues across the city.

 

With numbers restricted and the majority of bars opting for table service, hospitality workers faced significantly greater challenges compared to previous years.

Nonetheless, the positive atmosphere for those at the centre of the action was tangible.

Bastien Peyraud, general manager at the Imperial Hotel, said he was glad to see the return of one of Cork’s most respected traditions.

“We won’t generate as much revenue as previous years, but I don’t think that was the spirit or idea of this year anyway,” Mr Peyraud said. “What it’s really about is maintaining a huge tradition for Cork city.”

Collective determination to succeed

He described how a collective determination to succeed has brought the local hospitality community closer.

“We were all working together to help each other so there was a real sense of community,” said Mr Peyraud.

The 'Rebel Brass' band played on an open top bus on Patrick Street in front of huge crowds. Picture: Andy Gibson.
The 'Rebel Brass' band played on an open top bus on Patrick Street in front of huge crowds. Picture: Andy Gibson.

“Here in Cork, we are a community. Everyone was so happy to be open so it was really a celebration of us moving forward in the right direction together.

“This isn’t exactly what we wanted but things are still moving forward. Every victory, no matter how small, is always good.”

He said that even with restrictions, the spirit of the Cork Jazz Festival was still alive and well.

“It’s all about the happiness and fabulous welcome. The DNA of Cork Jazz Festival is still the same,” he said.

“When I first came here, I loved the atmosphere of Cork city during jazz weekend. Ireland is famous for the fun and the love which is exactly what you see in the venues of Cork city this time of year.”

Positive feedback

Many found creative ways to keep their customers happy. “There were canopies outside to avoid people getting wet in the queues. We served trays of mini pints of Guinness to thank people for their patience,” he said.

The New York Brass Band played on the stage in front of the Cork Opera House in front of huge crowds. Picture: Andy Gibson.
The New York Brass Band played on the stage in front of the Cork Opera House in front of huge crowds. Picture: Andy Gibson.

“The feedback we’re getting has been very positive. The musicians playing were able to feed off everyone’s happiness and positivity. It felt like a normal jazz weekend in many ways and of course, it was better than what everyone was experiencing last year.”

Managing director of Trigon Hotels, Aaron Mansworth, said that keeping people safe throughout the weekend remained a priority.

“The restrictions had to impact us, but for the right reasons,” Mr Mansworth said. “We’ve managed our capacity and the most important thing for us was to keep health and safety at the forefront.

RTE 2FM’s Jenny Greene closed Saturday evening with a swing and a beat with a sold-out performance at Cork Opera House.Picture Rich Gilligan
RTE 2FM’s Jenny Greene closed Saturday evening with a swing and a beat with a sold-out performance at Cork Opera House.Picture Rich Gilligan

“I think people realise that they still need to be careful. We kept our numbers in check and people really enjoyed the weekend.

“The best part is people are already thinking about next year and what it will be like when we go back to the way festivals were before. I wouldn’t describe this as a victory yet but we are all moving forwards and keeping momentum. This is not a step back like in previous months.”

Jazz at Daunt Square

He praised his team for helping the festival to run smoothly. “I have to give a shout-out to the team, who did an exceptional job. We are very lucky,” he added.

Challenges over weekend 

Chairman of the Cork City and County Vintners’ Federation of Ireland, Michael O’Donovan, who owns the Castle Inn in Cork city, described the challenges for hospitality workers following the late introduction of guidelines from the Government.

“For the vast majority of bars, the guidelines came too late, which was why most stuck to table service,” he said. “The hardest part is the crowds outweighing the capacity in the city. It’s difficult when you have to tell people that the place is full. There were long queues last night but we are managing as best we can.”

Economic boost 

The first jazz festival was held in Cork in 1978.

Organised annually, with the exception of last year, the event draws hundreds of musicians and thousands of music fans to the city.

It was founded by Jim Mountjoy, who was the marketing manager of the Metropole Hotel at the time and who, faced with filling his property for the weekend, scheduled the first jazz festival to mark the newly-instituted October bank holiday.

Previous estimates suggest the festival is worth millions of euro to the local economy every year.

Speaking to The Echo last week, Eoin O’Sullivan, president of the Cork Business Association, said that while businesses did not expect the festival to be as economically beneficial this year, it is important to the local economy.

 

“The weekend is usually worth somewhere in the region of €40m,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

“We’re not expecting to reach those types of figures but the incentive is still huge. It’s a very important event for the region,” he said.

“It’s a return to some bit of normality for the city.”

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