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Cork Rocks, Plugd and the state of the Real Capital

2 Comments 17 December 2009

As a notoriously slow reader (with a growing pile of books on my list), I should have known that I wouldn’t have gotten round to reviewing Cork Rocks: From Rory Gallagher To The Sultans Of Ping (Mercier Press) until now, having hoped to do so much sooner.Cork Rocks

As a contributor to the Evening Echo and cluas.com, author Mark McAvoy is well positioned to write an account of the progression of rock music in ‘the Real Capital’ over the last few decades. However, to describe it as a linear account, a straight laced history, would be unfair to a book that manages to be both parochial and national, informative and engaging.

Where Cork Rock succeeds as a book you could recommend to a music fan from Fermoy or Fermanagh is in McAvoy’s ability to tell a local story that reflects a larger trend.

Through first hand accounts from Cork musicians, fans and other figures, Cork Rocks ably frames the stories of artists and bands such as Rory Gallagher, Microdisney, Stump, The Frank and Walters and the Sultans of Ping within a wider context.

For Corkonians this book offers the familiarity and nostalgia of home, but goes beyond that in skilfully telling the story of culture and counterculture, from showband to grunge, over the course of the last four decades in a way that will interest any music fan.

It is a commendable book in its detail but more so for how McAvoy presents a subject he clearly loves. This labour of love is highly recommended for the music mad feen or beor.

As I publish this post, I am sure that by now everyone is aware that that Plugd, Cork’s last independent record store, is to close on New Year’s Eve.

The sadness that meets Plugd’s demise has already been brilliantly articulated by Sweet Oblivion, and the Peoples Republic of Cork Thread where the news broke, so I wont rehash what has already been said. I want to take this opportunity, however, to wish Jim and Albert the very best in future and thank them for all their help. I wasn’t one of the ‘known’ regulars in Plugd, but I rarely passed Grand Parade without popping round the corner, and the two lads were always sound and helpful.

Much fanfare has greeted the opening of the Opera Lane shopping centre in Cork recently. Many seem thrilled to greet the influx of American, Swedish and British High Street stores to Faulkner’s (oops, I mean ‘Opera’) Lane, but it is a worrying trend. Cork is in a state of flux at the moment. We have lost our home grown record store, our Kino, and our football club is hanging on by the skin of its teeth.

Support for indigenous culture, sport and business is at an all time low in Cork. Perhaps the emergence of the Christmas market on Grand Parade will give people hope that we can carve a niche of our own, and maybe in future another book on Cork culture will tell the story of how a strong indigenous culture will grow in the face of homogeny.

Time will tell.


- who has written 132 posts on Guess List.

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2 Comments so far

  1. Great post – agree totally.

  2. Niamh says:

    Devastated about Plugd. Cork won’t be the same.

    What’s next to go I really don’t know…

    Lucky we got the Capital of Culture when we did.

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