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The soul of the festival!

Wednesday, 29th May, 2019 4:39pm

As Soul in the City returns to Leeside this weekend for its fourth run, co-founder Noreen Gannon gave the Cork Independent the lowdown on this year’s event.

Noreen, originally from Bishopstown, has been co-proprietor of Gallaghers Pub on MacCurtain Street since it opened on the June Bank Holiday weekend six years ago, sharing a birthday with Soul in the City which started three years ago on the same weekend.

Having rebranded as a gastropub focusing on good food and good music under Head Chef Amit Katti, Noreen was enamoured with the idea of a music and food festival after chatting with soul singer and festival co-founder Karen Underwood.

“Myself and Karen got talking about how there was a real need for an event like this in the Victorian Quarter. There were no festivals over the long weekend and little nightlife in the area. There was a great enthusiasm and community spirit from other businesses on the street as they could recognise that this was something that could really promote the area.”

Like any small festival, Noreen and the team did face difficulties, especially in the early years.

“The first year of any festival is about winning the hearts and minds of the people. We had little resources to start with and it was slow to grow. However we gained huge support from the community. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes; a lot of hours have been put in since January.”

Although there are many great aspects to the festival, Noreen’s highlight is the annual afterparty following Karen Underwood’s closing set on the Sunday night.

“We have the best musicians working with us every year. We are very lucky to have that talent in Cork.”

Four years in, Noreen is delighted with the success of the festival.

“I am extremely proud of what we have achieved in the Victorian Quarter. It must be recognised as a team effort, everyone has worked so hard to make the festival what it is today. We work hard but we also make sure to enjoy the weekend.”

Noreen tells us there is much to look forward to this year, especially with the increase in local businesses participating.

“We have put a bigger emphasis on the food side of the festival in comparison to other years. We ran a Soul Food competition in the lead up to the festival where all the local restaurants and cafes put their spin on the concept of soul food. Karen judged the competition and was really impressed with the entries. The restaurants will serve their soul inspired dishes throughout the festival including us here at Gallagher’s.”

And what plans are in the works for next years festival?

“We are always aiming to be bigger and better. Every year we add another layer to the festival so that we don’t get too comfortable! We would also be open to expanding further into the city if the opportunity arose.”

So big ideas for next year’s festival, after enjoying this one of course!

Soul in the City takes place across the Victorian Quarter this weekend, from Friday 31 May to Sunday 2 June. The Cork Independent are proud media partners of the festival, along with Cork's 96FM. The main event is Aretha Queen of Soul with Karen Underwood at The Everyman at 8pm on Sunday. Tickets are available at everymancork.com. See soulinthecitycork.ie.

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