Cork Profile - Ray Blackwell Manager of DeBarras Folk Club

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

An archaeologist, albeit a fighting archaeologist, once I saw Indiana Jones, I was hooked. I went on to study archaeology as part of my arts degree in UCC but there was no fighting involved.

Tell us about your career progression to your role today:

I began working in the family business DeBarras from an early age. I continued to work in the business throughout my teenage and college years. After college I lived in South Korea where I taught English. From there I returned home for a month to visit family and I haven’t left since.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do?

When you work in DeBarras, you’re at a confluence of so many amazing things crossing paths at the same time - music, art, poetry, the people and their unique, incredible stories. It’s amazing, just beyond the beyond! You get to meet so many talented, interesting (and even nefarious) characters, from all walks of life and you get to hear their stories! I love that. I love the stories because telling stories is how we try to make sense of the chaos of the world. It’s so important for us all.

What motivates you? My family.

What advice would you give your 15 year old self?

Don’t take things so seriously. And it’s ok to shower at least once a week.

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

In an ideal world? Stay at home dad.

What is your greatest life or career achievement to-date?

There are too many to mention, but I’m very proud that the Clonakilty International Guitar Festival which will celebrate its 18th year this September, a pretty impressive achievement for any community-driven festival. Our festival is now legally allowed to vote, purchase alcohol and stand for general election, should it desire...

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

Without a doubt, my parents.

What is the life dream now? The life dream now is to try to sneak in 1 hour of ‘Elden Ring’ on the computer after all the family are gone to bed and try to not fall asleep holding the controller.

How do you switch off?

I enjoy many things – spending time with my family, meeting pals, listening to music, watching movies, and playing computer games.

What is your favourite Cork memory?

My 1st year of college in Cork. Fugazi played Nancy Spains on Barrack Street. We were living across the road. I couldn’t believe it. For that show truly I felt Cork was a land flowing with milk and honey.

What is your favourite place in Cork?

Coughlan’s Bar.

Do you have a favourite quote or motto?

“Pebbles in a bag polish each other.”

When are you at your happiest?

When I’m asleep.

What is your hidden talent?

I’m brilliant at conkers.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

See above.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

This month, DeBarras welcomes a huge line-up of artists from near and far. Have a look at, and the 18th Clonakilty International Guitar festival from 9-18 September.


Name and position: Ray Blackwell, Manager DeBarras Folk Club, Clonakilty

Age: 42

Lives: Yes

Family: Yes

Pets: No

Favourite thing about Cork: The people

Least favourite thing about Cork: n/a

One thing you’d change about Cork: Make it bigger.