Cork Midsummer Festival roundup:  Lisa McInerney, grow-house art and cutting-edge percussion  

Crosstown Drift, Day-Crossing Farm, and Bangers & Crash provided live experiences in the first week of the festival 
Cork Midsummer Festival roundup:  Lisa McInerney, grow-house art and cutting-edge percussion  

Lisa McInerney in the gardens of the Butter Exchange for Crosstown Drift, as part of Cork Midsummer Festival. Picture: Bríd O'Donovan.

Crosstown Drift – Lisa McInerney 

 These days, there's one major criterion to judge whether an event is well-run or not: what's the situation with the toilets? It's the first item on the agenda for the organisers' pep-talk outside the Butter Exchange before we set off on a stroll through the city in the company of Lisa McInerney. Practicalities sorted, off we go down Shandon Street and along the North Mall to St Vincent's steel bridge, around by the Marsh, onto the Coal Quay, before crossing the river to the north side again. 

At various stops along the way, McInerney reads from  The Rules of Revelation - the final part of her Cork-set trilogy – and rolls out anecdotes about her own time on Leeside, and how particular parts of the city tie into her writing.

All readings are from the voice of Maureen, a character we first met in The Glorious Heresies in 2015, a bit older and (possibly) wiser now: “What did men ever suffer? A bruised ego and the odd swollen ball?” 

It's all good fun, and a fine way to get reacquainted with both the books and seldom-visited corners of Cork. Indeed, the final stage of the journey is an enjoyable chat between McInerney and this paper's Eoghan O'Sullivan, hosted in the quasi-secret walled garden of the Butter Exchange.

The grass is bang on-trend in its uncut wildness, Shandon looms overhead as the ultimate symbol of the city,  and the washroom facilities are fantastic. 

Lisa McInerney in front of the Mother Jones plaque on John Redmond Street. Picture: Bríd O'Donovan
Lisa McInerney in front of the Mother Jones plaque on John Redmond Street. Picture: Bríd O'Donovan

The Day-Crossing Farm

 The live version of Marie Brett's art installation gets us off to an unsettling start. At the appointed meeting place, our foreign 'taxi-driver' argues down the phone before announcing we'll actually have to walk. He escorts us on the short walk to a building on South Terrace, where a door opens and we wander through the various rooms of the artist's representation of a cannabis grow-house.

In this large-scale production - in collaboration with filmmaker Linda Curtin, sound designer Peter Power, and lighting designer Sarah Jane Shiels - Brett is focusing attention on the trade's little-known connections in present-day Ireland to human trafficking and slavery. We don't meet any more actors, but outside some of the doors a pair of flip-flops represents the unfortunates forced to work in the cramped conditions, and we also catch glimpses of them on a CCTV screen.

The piece has already led to pockets of increased media attention on the subject it addresses, which is presumably a measure of its success.

  • The online version of the installation is available to stream until June 27 (€5)

 Bangers & Crash Percussion

The bulk of the audience sits on mats in the courtyard of Elizabeth Fort off Barrack Street, surrounded by the six musicians and their instruments. And what an array of instruments. Many of us might identify the bongos, congas and timpani, but would struggle to put a title on most of the other drums, boxes and dangling metallic sheets.

Alex Petcu with Bangers & Crash at Elizabeth Fort for Cork Midsummer Festival. 
Alex Petcu with Bangers & Crash at Elizabeth Fort for Cork Midsummer Festival. 

The contemporary pieces they perform might not be home-listening for attendees, but overall this is a fascinating aural and visual experience. As well as the banging and crashing the group's name suggests, we also get subtle moods and textures from the compositions by Amanda Feery, Tom Lane and sextet leader Alex Petcu. At one stage several of the musicians even have bows in hand as they draw melody from the cymbals. Energising and enjoyable. 

Cork Midsummer Festival 
Cork Midsummer Festival 

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