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Cork Independent

Cork Profile

Lorraine Maye, Director Cork Midsummer Festival and Cork Network Business Woman of the Year 2016

Thursday, 11th May, 2017 1:00am

When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up?

I wanted to be a vet, then I really wanted to be a music journalist. I loved acting and was involved in everything going until I was about 20, after which I decided I would really like to run arts events and festivals.


Tell us about your career progression to your role today:

Once I had made the decision that I wanted to work in the arts, I completed a H Dip in Arts Administration in NUIG and from there travelled around working on Festivals in Edinburgh, Belfast and Cork on short term contracts in a variety of different roles – admin, marketing, box office and front of house. I worked in Temple Bar for six years where my main job was managing Culture Night which was very exciting – it grew from a small event in Temple Bar with 40 organisations to 152 organisations in Dublin and 32 regions around the island participating.

I always wanted to work for Cork Midsummer Festival; I’ve been with the Festival for four years where my role has gone from Manager to Director.


What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do?

The sheer variety of brilliant people I work with and meet in a week – artists, business people and audience members – from Cork, Ireland and beyond. Attending fantastic shows, performances and festivals.


What motivates you?

Great art and events in all their forms and the possibility that I might play even a small part in making some of it happen. There’s always another inspiring thing around the corner.


What advice would you give your 15 year old self?

Stop worrying about what people are thinking about you. You’re doing everything with the best of intentions and that’s all that matters.


If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing?

Something else related to the arts and culture. I tried temping in jobs in other industries briefly in my mid-20s to be sure that this was what I wanted to do and it definitely confirmed it – I can’t imagine not working in the arts.


What is your greatest career achievement to-date?

Being a part of the team that developed Cork Midsummer Festival over the last few years from a modest five-day festival to a hugely exciting 10-day celebration, premiering and showcasing some of the finest Cork talent alongside international events.

Winning Network Cork Business Woman of the Year in 2016 was really lovely and unexpected recognition of how far we have come.


Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life?

My family and friends. You can learn so much at school, at work, from well-known people you idolise who have changed the world in some way. But ultimately, the biggest influence on you are the people closest to you. They help you make decisions, celebrate with you when times are great, lift you up when things are challenging. Lots of other influences might come and go – family and friends never will.


How do you switch off?

Box sets are essential. I am re-watching all of Arrested Development start to finish.


What is your favourite Cork memory?

I’ve lived in Cork for four years now and already have so many fantastic memories.

But some of the best ones revolve around the festival. Sunny days at the Picnic in the Park in Fitzgerald’s Park, following author Kevin Barry on a literary trail around the city and extraordinary theatre in Elizabeth Fort.


What is your favourite place in Cork?

Home is where the heart it.


Do you have a favourite quote or motto?

There’s always a way.


When are you at your happiest?

When I feel like I’ve been able to give everything and everyone enough time. I feel constant guilt about not being able to give things and people enough time. This is a really common complaint I know and so difficult for anyone to get right.


Any regrets?

Not really. I’m happy where I am now and the here and now is all that ever really matters.

If you are happy where you are now, it’s hard to have regrets. We’ll never know where other choices would have taken us!


What is your hidden talent?

I completed all of the grades in piano when I was at school.

There’s also a charity CD (that made it into the charts!) knocking around from years ago, with me and a couple of others singing on it.


What might we be surprised to know about you?

That I have visited almost 40 countries. I made a list recently and was surprised myself!

Also that I won Funniest Person of the Year as voted by everyone in my final year at school.

As an adult, I of course take my job and responsibilities very seriously…for anyone who doesn’t know me very well, I think that particular accolade would be a surprise!


Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Cork Midsummer Festival is running for a full 10 days, 16–25 June, with incredible events for everyone! The 2017 programme is now live on our website –

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