“You really are only as old as you feel, you know”, the elderly lady from Lancashire saied, tossing a lurid pink feather boa over her shoulder and sashaying on to the dance floor at the opening chords of ‘Ain’t Misbehaving’.

The sentiment aptly summed up Kinsale’s infectious mood this weekend as the town’s jazz festival hit full stride.

Following a few recent years where recession economics had slightly dampened spirits, this year’s packed venues and increased visitor numbers spoke volumes for a rediscovered upbeat mood.

Long established as an alternative to the larger Cork festival, Kinsale’s less frenetic pace and winning mixture of blues, soul and jazz continues to attract a wide age demographic of music fans.

Patrick ‘Jazz Hands’ Speight, Sean ‘Fritz’ Kelly, and Andrew ‘Strings’ Styles from Montenotte at the launch of the festival
Patrick ‘Jazz Hands’ Speight, Sean ‘Fritz’ Kelly, and Andrew ‘Strings’ Styles from Montenotte at the launch of the festival

With events running every day from lunchtime to late night at more than 20 venues in the town, punters sampled the classic clarinets of Paddy Cole, Joe Mac and the Cadillac Cats to the more soulful rhythms of the Red Rooster Blues Band, Sons of Steve McQueen and the Blue Eyed Beggars.

“Kinsale is simply a great festival town,” says local musical maestro Billy Crosbie.

“The intimacy and friendliness of the place makes the visitor feel very at home, and many of the same faces return year after year.”

Billy’s latest show, Centenarians — a tribute to Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf, is on at the Trident Hotel today.

Brenda Dennehy, Fiona Donnelly, and Aisling Roche, of 96FM at the Metropole Hotel, Cork
Brenda Dennehy, Fiona Donnelly, and Aisling Roche, of 96FM at the Metropole Hotel, Cork

Kent-based eight-piece, Loose Change, have been coming to Kinsale for 20 years, and remarked on the improved vibe apparent in the atmosphere this year.

“People have had a tough time over the past few years, but this weekend we kept hearing about how hard it was to get a bed anywhere,” said lead vocalist James Purcell.

“As always, a big number of friends, family and followers have come here with us.

“As everyone knows, the best way to travel anywhere in Ireland is via our second home in Kinsale.”

St John’s Gospel Choir performing in St Anne’s Church, Shandon, in the Harvest Thanksgiving ceremony during the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival
St John’s Gospel Choir performing in St Anne’s Church, Shandon, in the Harvest Thanksgiving ceremony during the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival

As the clocks turned back an hour at 2am Sunday morning, the echoes of cool swing and hot jazz continued to drift across the town’s still buzzing streets, with little sign of punters wanting the night to end.

“You fall asleep to jazz in Kinsale, and then wake up to it the next day at lunchtime”, said a Dublin couple, here on a first anniversary celebration.

“We can’t think of a better way to keep the winter blues at bay.”

It’s a statement thousands in Kinsale would doubtless agree with.


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