Music, food and beer - Meet the people who make your summer happen

Ciara McDonnell meets some of the people who conjure up the sounds and tastes that make our summers magical and oh so utterly unforgettable.

To me, summer begins when the evening air becomes suffused with the scent of charcoal and birds cheep me awake impossibly early.

It weaves its magical wand that makes me want to drop everything and run to the local beer garden where I can toast my shoulders while drinking ice cold cider made just down the road. 

Summer is filled with a cacophony of children leaping in and out of the ice-cold Atlantic on a warm afternoon. 

Who is responsible for creating an unforgettable summer? 

Who are the people who spend the winter months researching the trends that we will all want to follow during the summer season? 

Meet the people who make your beer, who book your bands, who play the music that defines your summer soundtrack. 

Meet the people who make your summer happen.


Richie Martin is one half of folk duo Cry Monster Cry with his brother, Jamie.

For them, summer means touring the country’s festival circuit.

“Summer is a really busy time for us. 

We have been lucky enough to play most of the Irish festivals over the past year or two and always look forward to the summer months for that very reason. 

Festivals are a great opportunity for touring bands to play to new audiences and hopefully make some new fans.

Every festival is different, some are glamorous while others can be a little rougher around the edges shall we say!

I don’t know if we really get starstruck anymore. Lots of unlikely things happen at festivals. That’s the nature of the beast. 

One of the nicest and most unlikely things that happened to us recently though was when Gaz Coombes came up to us back stage at the Other Voices music trail last December to introduce himself and to tell us he was a fan and that he had heard we had put on a good show. 

I was a big Supergrass fan growing up so that was a nice and very unlikely turn of events.

If I had to pick another band to play with on the main stage of a festival, it would have to be Elbow. 

I saw them on the main stage of Electric Picnic a few years ago playing ‘One Day Like This’; and it was a pretty special moment.

The sun was out and I was with friends and family and that song struck a real chord with me.

I feel I am still the same guy who can stand in front of 10 people with a guitar and do the exact same thing as I’ve always done. 

I wouldn’t want it to change me. 

I’ve been playing in front of people my whole life and its where I feel most comfortable so if anything, playing larger gigs has made me a happier and more fulfilled version of myself. 

I am really revelling in the fact that the crowds are getting bigger every time we step out on a stage”.

Cry Monster Cry’s debut album Rhythm Of Dawn is out now.

Music, food and beer - Meet the people who make your summer happen


Sam and Maudeline Black said goodbye to their careers in engineering and nursing three years ago to start their own brewery, Blacks of Kinsale.

“Like lots of craft beer enthusiasts, we started brewing beer at home, and what started out as a small operation in our kitchen soon became a bigger one that required its own garden shed, and sooner again, a project that could be turned into an actual business. 

We make the drinks that we love. 

Our first beer, Kinsale Pale Ale KPA came about because that’s what we liked to drink.

Our customers agree. It’s still our bestseller.

This year, we launched our own gin, and it has flown. 

Again, we chose gin because we love it. There is no end of combinations. 

It is a fantastic gateway spirit for people who don’t really like the brown spirits but are looking for something more refreshing.

Summer is without a doubt our busiest time. People are drinking more, so our production goes up, but also it’s a very busy time of year for festivals. 

The craft brewery community in Ireland is quite small, so while festivals are work, they can be very social for us too. 

It’s a great time for us to meet up with friends and compare notes about the year, find out what everybody is up to, and taste some great new products.

The festivals give us the opportunity to meet our customers, which is a pleasure. 

Craft beer and spirit drinkers are really loyal and enthusiastic. 

When they try something and love it, they want everybody to know about it. And that’s why we love them; their enthusiasm is infectious. 

Festivals and the summer season offers us a chance to meet people who wouldn’t necessarily have tried our drinks before, but who will try it at a festival, like it and then add it to their weekly shopping list.

We run tours at our brewery during the summer months, and that’s always fun. The experience is multi sensory; the minute they come in the gate they are cocooned in the sweet smell of malted barley fresh citrus hops. 

It’s something we still find intoxicating.

Blacks of Kinsale produce 12 craft beers and Blacks Of Kinsale Gin. A full list of stockists can be found on their website To book a tour, email

Music, food and beer - Meet the people who make your summer happen


Avril Stanley is the creative force behind Body&Soul Festival. 

Responsible for translating festival-goers’ dreams into a reality, work for her is a calling.

"Body&Soul is a modern celebration of an age-old tradition of the summer solstice, bringing like-minded people together to share an extraordinary experience. 

We invite people to leave behind the clock-watching, daily demands of life as they cross the threshold of Body&Soul.

<br><br>To see this post on Facebook, click here.

We work to create the festival in a way that enables you to step between one reality and another and evoke different parts of yourself through the setting, people and environment around you.

It’s a place where like-minded people come to explore and discover new music, interact with visual and performance art, comedy and spoken word, culinary delights and theatrical interludes outside of a traditional setting. 

To me, it is the attention to details and spirit of collaboration that sets us apart from any other festival in Ireland.

When the team and I are planning the festival each year we want to inspire our audience. We want to set them alight, invite participation, and collaboration and send people back into their lives having experienced something truly unique with like-minded people, who share a similar vision.

To me, this work is a vocation. 

I have to live it in order for it to be authentic. Each year, when the festival is over, I take my son somewhere warm and peaceful — right now, India welcomes us like home — where we can refuel, relax and spend quiet time together. 

It’s this self-care and self-respect that allows me to unwind, take stock and reassess. 

This is essential to the principles of Body&Soul. 

Our core values are inclusivity, participation, respect and collaboration — all infused with love and driven by a fiery passion to make a difference, and celebrate life in all its guises."

Body&Soul takes place June 7-19, Ballinlough Castle, Co Westmeath.

Music, food and beer - Meet the people who make your summer happen


Public relations expert and managing director of Mission Pr, Sabrina Sheehan has been at the coalface of summer festival life for most of her career.

“All my summers, in fact every summer season in my 20s and early 30s, blend and blur. 

My tastes have also changed over the years so I would attend more theatre shows and arts festivals rather than regular music festivals.

My ultimate summer festival memory is The Cure performing at Oxegen in 2004 and meeting my only music hero, Robert Smith.

Their label knew I was a huge fan, and suggested that I ‘help out’ with the meet and greet.

With Simon Gallup and Perry Bamonte walking about, I’m still not sure how I managed to contain my inner teenage self.

Later seeing them perform ‘A Strange Day’ and ‘Play For Today’ live was just perfection, I will never forget it.

Every Irish festival this year has a great line up and something that makes it unique so there wouldn’t be one that I would say I’m looking forward to more than the others. 

Sea Sessions has the wonderful scenery, Interlude is so centrally located in Dublin City and Carlow Arts Festival is family friendly. I plan to bring along the kids. 

They can mind my husband.

We started working on PR for Sea Sessions three years ago in 2014. 

Over that time one of the biggest changes has been the crowd. 

Not only are fans coming from all corners of Ireland but there has also been a rise in people travelling from all over Europe to check out the surf, music and Wild Atlantic Way. 

I’m looking forward to enjoying some great tunes up in Bundoran. 

Even before the music begins you can surf or horse ride in the sand dunes. I might sound like I’m describing a rocking John Hinde photograph, but it really is that beautiful”. 

Sea Sessions takes place on 24-26th June in Bundoran.

Music, food and beer - Meet the people who make your summer happen


Shannon Keane came to Ireland over 10 years ago and started Diva, a deli and café in Ballinspittle, Co Cork.

“There is this magical thing that happens in Ireland when the sun comes out. 

Everybody drops absolutely everything, paints a smile on their faces and runs outdoors with this unbelievable determination.

I have been here for 30 years and it still makes my heart sing when I see how much Irish people literally relish sunshine.

On those unexpectedly sunny days, our deli sells out of literally everything. 

It’s as though people want to cram every possible experience into that one sunny day and I absolutely adore it.

Coming from Seattle to West Cork 16 years ago, I had no idea that I would end up where I am today. 

Diva began as a coffee house. People suggested to me at the time that I should start a wine bar, but I was only interested in delivering the best coffee possible (and it’s no surprise, I had two young children at the time).

I love food and Diva serves all the food I love. 

We take inspiration from around the world (I travel during the winter time when we are closed for a few weeks), and I like to think that we are ahead of the pack. 

We stopped serving pulled pork last year, for example, because I felt it was done to death.

Right now, our customers go crazy for our Mexican food, but a few years ago they wouldn’t have responded to it. 

Ireland has such an incredible food culture and I think most people carry a huge respect for the food we produce here.

It’s such a pleasure to cook with food that is grown near Diva; it is second to none. 

I’ve been involved in the Theatre of Food at Electric Picnic for a few years and it marks the end of summer to me. 

I’ve been doing cake and cocktail demos for the last few years. 

This year I will be doing a cocktail demonstration, both with and without alcohol. The non-alcoholic ones I am showing are going to be really big this year. 

They’re called shrubs; made with fruit syrup, preserved with vinegar and mixed with water to make a tangy, refreshing drink.

Diva is situated in a village that thrives in the summer. Everybody is upbeat, there are lots of people here for the summer; the atmosphere is fabulous”.


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