CORK’S newest live music destination will open this weekend following a multi-million euro revamp of a former church in Ballycotton, East Cork.
The restoration of Sea Church, formerly St Colman’s Church of Ireland, has been funded by local man Pearse Flynn, an entrepreneur who made his fortune in telecoms and tech and who heads up British debt solution company Creditfix.
Mr Flynn previously told the Irish Examiner he intended to plough €2.5 million of his own money into the coastal village as he felt it was missing out on national tourist initiatives such as the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East.
Mr Flynn’s ventures - including the opening on St Valentine’s Day of the 40-seater Cush Restaurant, formerly Pier 26 - have created substantial local employment.
The 120-seat Sea Church opens tomorrow night with Cork band The Frank and Walters due to play a sold-out gig.
Coughlan’s Live Promotions have been brought on board to oversee the live music programme and director Edel Curtin, owner of Coughlan's Live Music Venue on Douglas Street, Cork city, said all of the gigs organised to date have sold out, which was “amazing” given the venue has not yet been tried and tested.
They include Lisa Hannigan, who will play the venue on Saturday and Sunday night.
Ms Curtin said M Flynn was “doing amazing things for Ballycotton”.
“The general vibe is that he’s given a lot to the area. Pearse’s vision is for Ballycotton to become more of a destination. There’s a lot going on in West Cork and there’s no reason why the same can’t happen in East Cork,” Ms Curtin said. She said “the best of everything” had gone into Sea Church, including a state-of-the-art sound system, which, when married with the church’s natural acoustics, make it a spectacular venue.
“It’s really unique, looking out onto the sea,” Ms Curtin said.
Their aim was to attract heavyweights of the Irish music industry, as well as global acts, while also providing a platform for emerging talent.
Concerts will take place against the backdrop of a beautiful stained-glass window, with due reverence paid to the church’s interior, as St Colman’s is a protected building The history of St Colman’s records that it was built in 1835 for £330, raised by subscription, but eventually closed due to a dwindling local Church of Ireland population. In 1995, it looked like salvation had arrived when it was chosen to feature in a Hollywood film, Divine Rapture, starring Marlon Brando, Debra Winger and Johnny Depp.
However, the cast and crew departed after two weeks filming, leaving a legacy of unpaid debts. Mr Flynn bought it in 2018 from American vendors.
In addition to the rehabilitation of St Colman’s, the adjoining former schoolhouse has been transformed into a restaurant and bar, which includes a contemporary glass atrium to link the former schoolhouse to the church. The restaurant is scheduled to open on March 6.