A farewell to DJ Fork

In his Downtown column this week, Stevie G reflects on the impact Andrew Mac Donagh had on the Cork music scene, following his passing
A farewell to DJ Fork

Andrew Mac Donagh, known to most of us as Mr Fork, was an important figure on the Cork music scene and will be sadly missed.

The Cork music scene lost an important figure last weekend. The sudden passing of Andrew Mac Donagh, known to most of us as Mr Fork, was a big shock to everyone, and it came at a time when he was just starting an exciting new phase of his life in Salvagem on MacCurtain St. Andrew will be deeply missed, and he made a big impact on not just me but many of us who grew up here in Cork.

It is hard for many to imagine how the club scene changed here in the late 80s and early 90s. Sir Henrys was at the heart of these changes and the likes of Greg/Shane/Donkeyman and others were pushing new sounds and new styles. Andrew was at the heart of this too, and alongside the likes of Joe Kelly, Gina Johnson, Liam and Kev, plus many more, he was one of those who helped usher in the new era. In the 80s we had an amazing underground rock scene in Cork, but bar a few exceptions, most clubs played what was on the radio, and DJs were personalities who talked on the mic and did requests and even slow sets.

Many of these DJs became accomplished figures in the media and were outstanding in their field, but there was a big change in the air as the 80s drew to an end. Even as a teen I could feel this, and long before I could get into clubs there was a sense that brighter days were coming. Ireland suffered economically in the 80s and in Cork we were reeling from the closures of Ford and Dunlop. Worldwide the Berlin wall was down and the Cold War was ending, while Mandela soon walked free as well.

Some of the greatest house music tracks of all time, such as “Someday”, “It’s alright” and “Promised Land”, were emerging and documenting this social change, while hip-hop was entering what some observers still call the golden era, and artists such as Eric B and Rakim, Public Enemy and soon De La Soul, were bringing the genre to new peaks. Cork was fairly fast on the uptake. Greg and Shane imported these new sounds and were inspired by visits abroad, and Andrew and other DJs did the same with funk, soul and hip-hop. All of the DJs of this era had to look elsewhere to get most of their music, as the local independent record shops such as Comet found it difficult to get imports until a few years later.

In bars such as the Donkeys Ears, Isaac Bells and Loafers, DJs played these sounds, and fed the pre-club crowd with dub, reggae, soul and rap. The microphones were put down and the next generation of clubbers, such as myself, walked into a Sir Henrys where we experienced this new decade amongst amazing DJs and people and music which was crossing effortlessly between house and hip-hop and indie and dance.

DJ Fork was at the hub of much of this on Fridays in the back room. I was usually dancing badly in front of him, as I did on other nights when Donkeyman or maybe Gina was at the controls. In those days they even ran the courtyard outside in the summer, and Fork was the one spinning everything from the then newly released “Screamadelica” to hip-hop and soul jams. These were some of my formative music experiences and I’ve never been shy in telling anyone how DJs such as Andrew influenced me.

We did a pirate radio show on the short lived DrossFM soon after, on Mothers Day, and it was the first time I had ever done anything on air. Eventually Radio Friendly came and also made an impact, and Fork was involved there too. DJ Fork was a regular at big festivals, such as the Southern Soul and Disco Festival, and he was a big part of many of the Sir Henrys weekenders too.

As the 90s made way for the 00s and the decade just gone, he continued to DJ and run nights, including the legendary Soul Function parties in the Sextant, which also ran some mini-weekenders. Andrew helped spearhead Mother Jones Flea Market before Salvagem, before his sudden passing. He was an excellent designer too who did everything from album covers and flyers, and he always had superb taste. He made a huge impact here, and he will be sadly missed by everyone in Cork.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more