Music filled Cork city today as live bands played on side streets, outdoor stages, parks and pavements.
Music also floated through the open windows of pubs while bright bunting outside announced the return of the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival.
Queues snaked patiently along pavements as people waited cheerily for covid passes to be checked and contact details recorded.
A queue of hundreds of people looped around the Grand Parade as revellers chatted under umbrellas and laughed together despite the misty rain and occasional belts of wind.
Jennifer Fitzpatrick was one of those queuing for Deep South on Grand Parade.
“We’re so excited to be here for Jazz, to see everyone. We all went to college in UCC so it’s great to be back for a big reunion in Deep South,” she said.
“Some of us live in London so it’s great to be back for the weekend and for Deep South. In 2019 we were all here, it was brilliant so we’re looking forward to it again.”
Mary Kate Ford had also recently returned to Ireland and was reuniting with friends after spending the last two years in Canada.
“I’m buzzing to be out,” she said.
“It’s really great to see everyone, particularly after everything that’s happened in the last 18 months. “ Despite this being her second time in the queue for Deep South today - having initially left when a 22-year-old friend was refused entry due to age restrictions - she remained upbeat and cheerful as she stood in the queue with Eoin McKenna, Maurice Costelloe and Andrew Murphy.
“We nearly got in earlier, we had been queuing from 1.10pm until it opened at about 2.15pm. But it’s OK, the queue is moving. I love being home and just seeing everyone,” she said.
Holly Flynn and Ellie Dillon were visiting Cork from Dublin for the Jazz Festival.
“It’s our first time here so we don’t know what to expect. But we’re looking forward to going out,” Ms Flynn said as they walked up Washington St.
Paul Montgomery, owner of Clancy’s Bar, Conway’s Yard, and a number of restaurants in the city centre, said that the weekend has been “better than expected” so far.
“It’s fantastic. There has been a real buzz," he said/
The Jazz is better than expected. Considering all the uncertainty coming up to it it’s been really, really good. So we’re thrilled.”
‘It’s fantastic, there’s a real buzz. The Jazz Festival has been better than expected,’ Paul Montgomery @montycork of Clancy’s and Conway’s Yard says about #CorkJazzFest so far #GuinnessCorkJazzFestival pic.twitter.com/o5d5VEQQpP— Liz Dunphy (@LizDunphy1) October 23, 2021
But one remnant of stricter pandemic measures may be here to stay as he believes retaining table service may create a “better quality night” for revellers. From last night, counter service at bars was allowed for the first time since they were first closed by Covid.
“We had an interesting dynamic last night where we stuck more with table service here in Clancy’s and then we reverted to more counter service in the more nightclub scene in Conways Yard. And I think that there was a better quality of night here [in Clancy’s].
“I think we’ll stick to what we’ve got used to over the last few months, of serving people at their table. I think there’s a better night out for people if they know they have their table and they know they’re going to get served. I think the consumer has got used to that over the last two years.”
He said that last-minute changes to the rules for bars and nightclubs made things “difficult to plan” this week.
“We had different rosters made out depending on what was going to happen. But the main event is that people coming to Cork and people in Cork could get out over the last 24 hours and this weekend. They could plan their late night out, that’s the most important thing. The difficulties, we’ve got over them and we’re up to speed now.”
He encouraged anyone considering a trip into the city this weekend to come.
“Get into Cork city. There’s loads of tables and chairs on the streets, on the rooftops, in the bars. You’ll be very welcome,” he said.
Covid Pass compliance seemed to be high across the city, with employees and business owners carefully checking people entering cafes, pubs and restaurants.
Outside the Metropole Hotel on MacCutain Street, men in top hats and tails checked everyone carefully in the orderly queue before they entered the iconic destination for jazz in Cork.
Others lined the pavements of MacCurtain St, sitting leisurely outside bars, restaurants and cafes, soaking up the sights as live music floated up the street from nearby Harley’s St.
There, a jazz band played beside food stalls and mobile cocktail stations below brightly coloured murals on the pedestrianised road just above the River Lee.