A new contemporary music and arts venue will launch in a historic church in Cork seaside town Monkstown in February with concerts by renowned singer-songwriters.
Live at St John's is a new collaboration with St John's Church in Monkstown and local residents Pat Kiernan — founder of ground-breaking Cork-based theatre company Corcadora which launched the careers of Cillian Murphy and Enda Walsh but closed after 31 years last October — and Graham White, founder of music collective FreezerRoom who collaborates with national and international musicians.
Together, they aim to programme pop-up music and arts events in the landmark location.
Their first live event sold out within hours, which points to the appetite for a live music venue in the seaside town, Mr White said.
Award-winning singer-songwriters Jack O'Rourke and All the Queen's Horses will perform the sold-out show on February 18, but more events are being planned for the space this year.
Details will be announced on their website but major names from the Irish and international folk and singer-songwriter genres can be expected for upcoming shows.
Mr Kiernan, who has been living in Monkstown for six years, was supportive of Mr White's idea of a Monkstown music and arts venue.
“I had experience with putting events on in venues that were not ready or equipped for performance, I thought I could bring that area of expertise to the project," Mr Kiernan said.
“I thought it was a great idea to programme events. And it’s fantastic that the church has been so open and receptive to the idea, it really is a collaboration between us to make things happen.”
Although Mr Kiernan is well known for expansive, site-specific theatre, the relatively small performance space in the church will dictate the types of events held there, which are likely to be acoustic gigs and perhaps stand-up comedy and other smaller-scale arts events, he said.
“By their nature churches were built in order for people to communicate in them. So they naturally lend themselves to performance,” Mr Kiernan said.
The beauty of the Gothic Revival church, first built in 1832, inspired Mr White to approach it for use as a music venue after he accompanied Jack O’Rourke to perform in a church in Tipperary last year and was struck by its quality and resonance as a music venue.
Churches can be brought back into the centre of communities again by providing spaces for arts, culture and connection, Mr White said.
“There are churches in almost every town in Ireland, many of them are only used a few times a week so this is something more towns could do,” Mr White said.
“It’s great to bring artists to perform outside of the cities and to bring more people into these places again.
St John's is a small Gothic Revival church which is part of the Church of Ireland's Carrigaline Union of Parishes in the Diocese of Cork, Cloyne, and Ross.
The Church is still in regular use, with services every Sunday at 9:30am. The Monkstown Chamber Choir, a robed choir, sing Choral Evensong at 7pm on the Second Sunday of each month, excluding Summer months.
Ticket availability for new shows will be announced at www.liveatstjohns.com.