Living Leeside: Australian Katrina finds a grá for Cork and its local food

Australian musician and sailor Katrina Emtage travels widely, but always comes home to Cork, where she lives with her husband, she tells Roisin Burke.
Living Leeside: Australian Katrina finds a grá for Cork and its local food

MTU Cork School of Music lecturer Katrina Emtage

FROM the other side of the world, Australian Katrina Emtage travelled far before settling in Cork after meeting her husband, Dave Hennessy, at a trad sesh in a pub.

With a three-year stint at sea travelling around the world among their memories, Katrina and Dave live in Crosshaven. They often sail in regattas, joining crews and making new friends, while engaging in a lifelong hobby and enjoying what Crosshaven offers.

“It’s a great community, I have good friends in the area,” Katrina says. “There is a strong community spirit that is gathering steam as the place expands.”

Both sailing enthusiasts and passionate musicians, Katrina and Dave have a lot in common, along with a grá for all things Cork.

“I’m a cheese fanatic,” Katrina says. “I love artisan treats and some of the locally produced foods that you can get in the farmer markets in Cork. On the Pigs Back, Macroom Buffalo Mozzarella, The Olive Company, and Tom Durcan’s Meats, there is so much variety and taste.”

Katrina and Dave enjoy Cork’s traditional spiced beef at Christmas and Katrina also takes to the sea on Christmas morning.

“I love the sea, I only go in for about 10 minutes, it's just a dip, but I enjoy it.”

NICKNAMES

Katrina says Cork people are friendly and curious and great for a slagging.

“I love the Cork nicknames, I have come across people called ‘Stomach’ and ‘The Gobbler’ and ‘100 pound baby’ — that last one was an 80+-year-old man, who, I think the story goes, was nearly run over as a child and then compensated through a claim.”

Katrina Emtage at Churchbay beach
Katrina Emtage at Churchbay beach

A flute teacher in the Cork School of Music at Munster’s Technological University (MTU), Katrina really enjoys her job.

“It’s great to be able to work with music, there is a nice bunch of people working at MTU, and I am working with all ages and abilities, which is nice, from kids to college students to adults,” Katrina says.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with some fantastic musicians over the years, some amazing students. It’s great to watch and exciting to see the talent unfolding.”

While enamoured with Cork, Katrina and Dave took off for a three-year trip to sail around the world in 2013.

“It was a great trip, but it was nice to come back to Cork,” Katrina says. “Trees seemed really big when we got back to land and also wind farms seemed to be everywhere when we got back.”

One thing Katrina took from her time travelling was just how many good people there are in the world.

“I was struck by how friendly people were, everywhere we went. There are a lot of nice people in the world.”

ENJOYING THE COAST

Back in Cork, Katrina likes to spend her time playing and teaching music, as well as walking the Cork coastline and visiting the West Cork islands.

One of her finest memories of her years in Cork is sinking a second pint in The Corner House in the midst of a trad sesh.

Originally from Sydney, Australia, and having lived for 13 years in Vienna, Austria, Katrina sometimes despairs at the restricted connectivity Cork offers.

“It’s frustrating, they have cut back on flights considerably, the access is not there, it was at one time, but not anymore. For me, getting to Vienna, Sydney, Portugal, or Spain, I often have to travel to Dublin to fly out.”

Katrina tries to get home to see her family at least once a year, travelling last year in the midst of the pandemic to see her father, who is a little poorly.

“I had to quarantine for two weeks in a hotel room, I had a view which was nice and I think I probably fared better than some others, as I was used to small, confined spaces from the boat.”

Katrina spent five weeks in Australia, before flying back to Cork.

The MTU lecturer said that while she loves Cork and sees herself staying, she still misses things from home.

“I miss family and friends, golden sand beaches and sound of butcherbirds, galahs and parrots, outdoor dining in the sun.”

Here in Cork, Katrina plays in a quartet as well as in a flute choir and she is performing on Saturday, December 19, in Crosshaven with the CAFE choir. This Saturday, December 19, at 7pm, the Cork Amateur Flute Choir (CAFE) are supporting Billy Kennedy as part of the Cork Co Co Pops series of concerts run by Cork County Council in Crosshaven Community Garden.

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