Music fans drop anchor at Cork’s Safe Harbour

A scene from ‘Loch na hEala/Swan Lake’ at Cork Opera House last night, the opening event for Sounds from a Safe Harbour. Picture: Bríd O’Donovan.

The third incarnation of the Sounds From A Safe Harbour festival kicked off in Cork last night, with the city set for six days of music and performances organised by a star-studded panel of curators.

Among them is Cork’s famous acting son, Cillian Murphy, due to return to his native city over the next few days for an event he has taken a hands-on approach in organising.

Among the events the Peaky Blinders star is recommending is Loch na hEala, the contemporary dance/theatre show that opened proceedings last night at Cork Opera House.

“I first saw Swan Lake in 2016,” Murphy said of a show that runs until Thursday. “It is an experience that has never left me.

One of the most moving, uplifting, exhilarating nights I’ve had in a theatre.

Among the other interesting events is Heartship, from artist Dorothy Cross.

The centre piece of that multi-faceted art project will feature singer Lisa Hannigan coming up the River Lee on the naval ship LÉ James Joyce, with the boat also bearing a human heart that was discovered in a crypt in Christchurch (now Triskel) in Cork in 1863.

The Cork-born artist has been trying to realise the project for quite a while, partly as a tribute to the work done by the Irish navy in rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean, but could never get her hands on a human heart.

The Christchurch specimen, from an unknown person, had been acquired by British army officer and ethnologist Augustus Pitt Rivers, who had been stationed in Cork.

“Heartship has been haunting me for the past three years… wishing to honour the many hearts of migrant people who disappear below the ocean surface and lie unnamed on the sea-bed,” said Ms Cross.

Of the dozens of music gigs taking place around the city, headliners such as Damien Rice and Feist have long since sold out, but there are still tickets for many others, as well as a roster of 40 free concerts.

The Free Music Trail, sponsored by Heineken, will take place over the weekend, September 13-15, across several city venues, including The Kino, Tom Barrys, and Crane Lane Theatre.

The series includes three album launches, and a further three secret shows from as-yet-unannounced artists.

Co-curator Mary Hickson — the main driving force behind Sounds From A Safe Harbour with Bryce and Aaron Dessner from American rock band The National — welcomed the arrival of the biennial event.

“I’m really excited that it’s all kicking off now,” said Ms Hickson, a former Opera House CEO.

The city provides the perfect landscape for a festival with its intimate venues,incredible food, and unique and special hospitality.

“It really could not happen anywhere else in the world.”

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