Music in Cork city

Guinness Cork Jazz Festival

Music in Cork city means big-name acts, a festival fever pitch of sounds and traditional music sessions sure to get your heart racing

It’s the home of the world-famous Guinness Jazz Festival, epicentre of a vibrant traditional music scene and the city that gave us rock god Rory Gallagher – Cork is a city with music in its soul.

During the day, Plunkett Street is alive with the sounds of street musicians, but at night, music spills out of bars and clubs. Pubs like An Spailpín Fánach and Sin É, a lively spot on Coburg Street, host nightly traditional music sessions, while Coughlan's and The White Horse feature more eclectic live sounds. Jazz Festival Director Sinead Dunphy puts it best when she says "There's no need to have a single night in Cork without hearing some incredible music!"

Cork’s music legends

His influence can be heard in the playing of U2’s The Edge and Queen’s Brian May, and he was admired by Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. Legendary blues and rock musician Rory Gallagher blazed a trail on endless tours, cementing his legacy as one of the greatest guitarists of all time. He may have been born in County Donegal, but he grew up in Cork and to this day, fans come to the city to pay their respects to the master.

People should visit Cork for the eclecticism - it's kind of like the New Orleans of Ireland for music - we don't follow scenes - it's about the music and song

Jack O’Rourke, songwriter, Cork

When it comes to traditional Irish music, composer Seán Ó Riada heralded in a new age for the genre, merging modern and traditional techniques that rejuvenated the world’s love for traditional Irish tunes. The Cork man was a member of the trad band Ceoltóirí Chualann, which involved many of the founding members of The Chieftains.

Cork International Choral Festival
Cork International Choral Festival

Festival fever

Cork’s music heritage is celebrated throughout the year in the form of rousing festivals that draw talent from across the globe.

Each May, the Cork International Choral Festival sees world-class performers flock to the city for five days of concerts and competitions across 60 venues.

October means big brass, smooth tunes and infections beats at the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival. The city comes alive with impromptu performances, entertaining some 40,000 music fans from around the world.

Cork Folk Festival takes place the same month, with acoustic tunes and traditional music taking centre stage. From international and local acts to lectures, workshops and traditional set dancing, the city gives itself over to an infectious rhythm of unbeatable entertainment.

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