Living Leeside: Englishman Anth serving up panto and pints in Cork

Musical Englishman Anth decided Dublin wasn't for him and moved to Cork and he has made his mark on Leeside with panto and pints. Roisin Burke reports
Living Leeside: Englishman Anth serving up panto and pints in Cork

Anth Kelay, Living Leeside at The Belle Vue Bar, 175, Old Youghal Road, Cork. Pic: Larry Cummins

The sense of community and humour was the draw for Anth Kaley when he moved to Cork 19 years ago after a stint in Dublin and a childhood in Sunderland, Northeast England.

Moving to Ireland at the age of 28, after getting a taste for the Celtic culture through work, the musician found his way to Cork after becoming jaded with the traffic-choked streets of Dublin.

Since moving to Cork, Anth has tried his hand at a number of things, predominantly with success, and continues to frequent the musical world while also taking on the management of a northside pub, with his wife Ruth.

“I got fed up with Dublin. I knew Cork before I moved through work, coming down for gigs and long weekends and that. It’s a lovely city, very compact and the airport is close by which is ideal for me when I was travelling a lot with work.” 

Anth has toured the world performing and recording in Australia, Hong Kong, China, USA, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Czech Republic, Italy, Greece, The Netherlands, France, Belgium and the UK.

Here in Cork, Anth is currently the musical director for the Everyman Christmas Panto, Aladdin, which opens on December 8 and continues until January 16.

As musical director, Anth has a six-piece orchestra to manage with a saxophone, trombone, bass, percussion, guitar and keyboard.

“The panto is coming along great, its a bit different with Covid restrictions, normally we have four weeks to rehearse, this year we have just two. It’s enough to get everything you need to do done, but it’s fairly hectic.” 

PANTO AND PINTS

This is Anth’s fifth year with the Everyman Panto, but his first year doing the panto while also running a pub.

“My wife and I took over a pub six weeks ago, the Bellview Bar across from Collins Barracks. 

"I’ve never run a pub before, but my wife managed a bar in Bristol years ago and I would have frequented the other side of the bar from time to time.” 

This is not the dynamic duo’s first business venture together, having ran a cafe in St Lukes for five years called ‘Rant’ until the lease ran out.

The pair have a strong connection to the St Luke’s area, having met in Henchy’s bar many moons ago.

Anth Kelay, Living Leeside at The Belle Vue Bar, 175, Old Youghal Road, Cork. Pic: Larry Cummins
Anth Kelay, Living Leeside at The Belle Vue Bar, 175, Old Youghal Road, Cork. Pic: Larry Cummins

Anth also became the choirmaster of the St Lukes Male Voice Choir when out walking in the area.

“It was 18 years ago, the smoking ban had just come in and there were a bunch of lads outside Henchy’s smoking, I walked past and they asked me to manage the choir they were setting up and I said yes!” 

The choir has 35/36 members and has released an album of Christmas Carols some years ago.

“We raise funds for Marymount Hospice every year,” Anth explained.

FESTIVE SPIRIT

A Christmas fanatic, Anth admitted he is one to be swooned by some festive flair. “I love Christmas, it's a big deal for me, Christmas Eve is my favourite day, Christmas Day can be very busy, I look forward to it every year.” 

Since moving to Cork, Anth said he has seen the city change from a vibrant cultural hub to a somewhat more gloomy environment.

“No one lives in the city anymore, too much space is given to offices, which is killing the city centre. The only thing open at night is restaurants and pubs and it can feel quite dangerous at times.” 

While Anth and his family, his wife Ruth, their daughter Marjie and stepson Elliot are very much settled in Cork, the music maestro said there is one thing he missed from back home and that is a special kind of bread.

“There is a flat bread that is particular to the northeast of England called Stotty Cake. It’s filled with ham and peas pudding. I only have it when I am home and its very tasty.” 

Back home in England, Anth has two brothers and two sisters as well as his mother and he tries to get back to see them once or twice a year.

“Aladdin” the Everyman Panto is directed and produced by Catherine Mahon Buckley, the Everyman Panto can be booked on 021 4501673 or www.everymancork.com.

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