A Question of Taste: Kay Harte, Farmgate cafe

Kay Harte, proprietor of the Farmgate Cafe.

Kay Harte is proprietor of the Farmgate Cafe at the English Market in Cork. She grew up in Youghal, described as “an idyllic childhood with miles of sand and sea. We lived about a mile from the beautiful old historic town”. Currently managed by Kay’s daughter Rebecca, the Farmgate is a venue for various cultural events through the year.

Next Tuesday at 6.30pm, the cafe will host the inaugural Farmgate Café National Poetry Award, as part of Cork International Poetry Festival. At the event, Leanne O’Sullivan will be presented with an award of €2,000 for her collection, A Quarter of an Hour.

Which book are you currently reading?

Mavis Gallant’s Paris Stories.

Other music tastes:

I listen to classical, trad, folk, jazz, blues. I particularly admire the work of Music Generation. Bringing music right into the heart of the community — ranging from rock and hip hop to trad and choral, it is such a brilliant movement. Who can forget the look of excitement on the young children’s faces when they played outside the Market on the day of the Queen’s visit!

Best piece of music you’ve heard recently:

Rebecca McCarthy Kent from Tramore on Peadar Ó Riada’s Friday evening programme on Raidio na Gaeltachta. She was recorded at the O’Riada Bonn Óir competition, which she won. She was outstanding as were so many of the other competitors.

First ever piece of music that really moved you:

Kathleen Ferrier singing Handel’s ‘Art Thou Troubled’. I listened to it on an old-style record player when I was very young and played it over and over.

Best recent film you’ve seen:

I Daniel Blake by Ken Loach, Such a powerful film and not without some Geordie humour.

Most memorable event you’ve hosted at Farmgate:

‘The Salon Of Conversation And Exchange’, where poets Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhaigh and Doireann Ní Ghríofa were in conversation through the medium of poetry, specifically addressing the radical women of 1916. It was part of a series of six public engagements which we held at Farmgate in the Market as part of the ‘Women of the South’ exhibition. Ailbhe and Doireann have made the brave choice to write and publish in the Irish language. The rewards are few if any. I really admire them. Also, during the Cork International Poetry Festival we specially remember the launch of the late Mathew Sweeney’s last book, setting the audience and venue alight.

Tv viewing:

I’m watching Shetland, written by crime writer Ann Cleeves. Douglas Hensell and Alison O’ Donnell are great, and the music composed by John Lunn is beautiful. The music and stunning scenery make me want to go there and walk or cycle the roads.

Best recent show or exhibition:

I loved the recent ‘Earth Wind and Fire’ in the Crawford and, I’m looking forward to the Mary Swanzy at the same gallery on Friday.

You are queen for the day — what’s your first decree?

Bus shelters for rural Ireland.

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