… we all wanted that feeling that Henrys gave us to last forever…

This latest post is courtesy of Edele Nolan – thanks Edele…


My beautiful friend Eileen Hogan suggested I write a blog for the exhibition 2 months ago. I was very flattered, and also baffled because, as I reminded her , lots of it is a bit of a blur! But I suppose my biggest dilemma was how do you put into words the feeling you got from a night in that dark, dingy but amazing place. How could I really put into words that feeling of absolute euphoria that a night in Henrys gave you. For all the dark dingy corners it was such a friendly place. You never knew who you were going to meet and everyone was a friend!  Everyone fitted in. It didn’t matter where you were from, or what you did, you just knew you belonged.  Even now just thinking about that place gives me a feeling of a happy, fun filled time in my life.

I first starting going to Freakscene as a first year college student and I remember that feeling of awe the first night I went there. Seeing people dance and dress just how they wanted was a feeling of liberation and excitement for a shy, young 19 year old from a small town.  I was hooked, I soon starting going on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and loved every minute of it. I was exposed to music I never would have listened to and I couldn’t get enough. Every week was a countdown to the weekend so you could once again experience the magic that was Henrys.

Saturday nights were always the biggest. You would spend the day deciding what you were gonna wear, not that it mattered much by the end of the night! I went in on a Saturday night and slowly worked my way through club. I would start off in the back bar to the soulful and very funky tunes of Mr Stevie G, who is definitely one of the best DJs in the country. Id start off rocking out to everyone from Stevie Wonder, the Supremes, Snoop Dog, and the list goes on.  For someone who never been exposed to any of this music before it was such an education. Id work my way into the main room where Greg and Shane always took the crowd on an amazing deep house journey. Id get lost in the music and every once in a while look around to catch someone eye, smile, throw a few shapes,( big fish little fish cardboard box)!! and then just carry on dancing! My last hour of the night was often spent going nuts to the amazing Mark Walsh in the back room. He lifted the roof off the place and always had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand with uplifting progressive house classics.

Everything was about the music and everyone was there just for that. Even then, at 19 years of age I knew I was part of something really special. It didn’t matter what you were wearing, who you were with, or who you knew, everyone was the same once you got on that dancefloor. We were all there to experience the magic and just dance.

Most of the worlds best Djs played there to a captive crowd who loved every single minute of it. We were spoiled in Cork, Karl Cox, Laurent Garnier, Justin Roberson, Joe Clausell, Danny Howells, to name but a tiny few and you could see it was such a special experience for them too. Myself and a few friends would often try to blag our way to the DJ box or to the hotel bar afterwards and the rare times we got lucky and managed to get “backstage” I remember all the DJs I met saying the same thing, “they loved playing in Henrys”. But for all these famous DJs it was the regulars Marq, Greg and Shane and Stevie who made the club what it was. You felt their passion and their love of the place, the people and most of all for the music. It really was somewhere where people came together to experience something truly special.

I remember so many nights after the last tune had played, the lights came on and just watching all hands in the air, everyone singing “everybody, move your body” and “one more tune”!  No one was going anywhere, we wanted more, we all wanted that feeling that Henrys gave us to last forever.

Henry was such a special place for me, it opened up a whole new world of music, great experiences but most of all of all it gave me wonderful friendships with people, many of whom I am still friends with today. I don’t know if I would have had the same experiences had it not been for that club. So all to all those who experienced that golden era of Henrys I was lucky enough to be a part of,  I say “Nice one!”


A tribute to Sir Henrys – Don’t Laugh

Susan O Shea posted a lovely little piece on our Facebook page earlier this morning – we thought it would make a nice post… so here goes, Thanks Susan
A Tribute to Sir Henry’s – Don’t laugh

No matter where we play or what clubs we go to, it’s difficult not to compare them to Henry’s. Yes there was often trouble outside the club but for four hours the differences between the ‘alternative’ and ‘dance’ crowds would melt away into sweaty walls, sticky floors, warm Carling XL beer with the paranoia inducing beats of Josh Winks ‘Don’t Laugh’ chasing us around the main bar. Naked torsos, long hair, Mercury Rev, hippie chicks, scobes, bump and grind, nerds, Nick Cave, Vicks, cider, bass so hard and deep the building shook, leaking toilets, lollipops, curry, chips and peas, buckled knees, cloudy water, we are, we are, we are the Frank and Walters. Stage invasions, whistles, once white jeans muddied with dancing love, lingering hugs, back bar grooves, being allowed rub the magic bald heads of Sweat veterans, Paradise Lost, Sultans of Ping, The Golden Horde, Kerri Chandler, Fad, Fork, LTJ Bukem. Falling down the stairs, bruises, lost cloakroom tickets, Freakscene, friends, lovers, all night raves, memories forever.

Sean O Neill opens Sir Henrys @UCC Library

Sean O Neill opened the Sir Henrys @UCC Library exhibition. He was the lead singer with 80s Cork rock and pop outfit Burning Embers, who released a number of singles and had a very good live reputation. He started managing Sir Henrys in 1988 and not only booked bands but also introduced Greg Dowling and the soon to be legendary Sweat dance night to the venue. He was in charge when Sonic Youth and Nirvana touched down in Cork plus his era also coincided with the expansion of Sir Henrys into more rooms such as the Back Bar. The renowned DJ weekenders also started at this time and it was Sean who gave the go ahead to a supposed one-off indie night called Freakscene too. Below is his speech from the night. Thanks Sean for a great speech and, as a former punter, thanks for vision you brought to the club…

Firstly I have to thank UCC for putting on this celebration of Sir Henry’s and to its curators Martin O’Connor, Eileen Hogan & Stevie G, Cronan and Colette and all the staff.
Sir Henry’s didn’t just open one day it was born out of history. The Lucey brothers, Murt, Michael and Jerry were at the vanguard of the music scene from the 1960’s. They were innovators, risk takers and forward thinkers. There would never been Sir Henry’s without Murt, Michael and Jerry Lucey. Sir Henry’s was Jerry’s baby.
For those of you who never experienced Sir Henry’s let me paint you a picture.
I am most associated with being the manager in the heady days of the dance scene, aptly named ‘Sweat’. However, I started my relationship (yes, it was and even still is a love affair) with Sir Henry’s like everybody else when I was 18 (maybe even 17), just trying to get into this mysterious, weird and wonderful place. That my mother would have classed it as a den of iniquity made it even more important to get in through those doors. Yes, it had it’s detractors down through the years, but, it’s always hard when it’s different.
Sir Henry’s was exciting, Sir Henry’s was cutting edge, music being the thread.
This little club crossed musical and social boundaries from folk to rock to punk to the dance scene, it mirrored the music culture of the world.
This was only possible because of Jerry Lucey’s willingness to take a chance, to try something new. Jerry gave things time. Jerry saw something in me that I didn’t see, he took a chance and gave me a chance.
This exhibition gives vent to the wealth of talent that passed through its doors, played on its stage, enjoyed it’s spirit. From the 70’s right up to and through the 90’s if you went to Sir Henry’s you remembered it.
History will always judge, for better or for worse and Sir Henry’s is now getting its rightful recognition. I think that is fantastic.

Sean O’Neill

“One more Choon”

Another post from our Inbox – this one courtesy of Alan, City Centre

Hi There,

When I heard from a friend of mine that this was taking place I must say I really had a smile on my face. I worked as a glass collector, and eventually the bar in Sir henrys for a good few years with a friend of mine. £3 an hr, 5 hours a night and got paid and then went to Hill Billy’s for a Breast N Bun, and came back and watched all the goings on from the grand parade hotel front bar and door. I actually met my long term partner on April 1st 1999. It was a teenage disco; I was in the Annex DJ Box with Paul Scanlon on the decks watching him bang out the choonz while looking to the hundreds of younger ravers below!!!

As a teenager aged just 16 at the time, I felt like a King “up there” ,as I was a budding DJ then, and am still djing now!! From that day on, I have been with her and have 3 beautiful daughters also. I absolutely loved working in Sir Henrys. As a music lover I got to listen to music for free, have a dance around the place and meet some big DJ’s and get paid, all be it £3 an hour. But at 16 years old to be in a night club, know the DJs and get free entry to the teenage disco for friends this was a great help in the social ladder of popularity.

While I have many memories such as Beach Ball in the summer and then in winter Snowball, Wednesday Nights Freakscene, the big one of course was Sweat on Saturday. We got to meet people who travelled each week from Limerick, Kerry, Dublin and beyond who slept in their cars or stayed with lads they had met at Sweat since they started coming. I knew this was a legendary place as I had older sisters who all had gone there and were still attending in some cases as their ages were older than me. So each night was special.

The one great memory of Sir Henry’s was big John Mansfield. My god what a legend! He always looked out for everyone in there and always put you in good form coming into work. But not only that, when the lights came on, the night was over. Or Was It! 5 minutes later all you heard was boom, boom, boom, lights back off and Greg& Shane were back for “One More Choon”

Streets, The Village, The Factory were all part of this special complex. Being able to have a pint of Smirnoff ice , yes a pint on tap, while playing a Daytona game of racing really was the highlight of the weekend back then!!

Anyway as another Person who met their life long partner in Sir Henry’s, I really can’t wait to see the exhibition.

Well done to all involved.

Not just a black room at the top of the stairs

We received a wonderful email from Triona Dunlea in response to our request for material and stories from and to do with Sir Henrys. Below is the email in almost its entirety. We believe it beautifully encapsulates what Henrys was and still is for many people. Thanks Triona…

I know that the exhibition is imminent and theres a bit of a buzz around about it! This is great and just shows the power that this club had and the affection that still exists in the City for it.

For me personally it was a huge part of growing up. I probably first went up the stairs in 97-98….. I actually first kissed my husband on a Thursday night BeachBall session and we are always saying that our kids will know that their mammy and daddy were once so cool that they actually first met in Henrys! Come to think of it, my brother also met his wife there….

Anyway, for me I think the reason it was such an important part of my life is that it was a place where you were free to belong. Through music and dance there was a brotherhood and the sense of community that I have never felt anywhere else. Ray Scannell expressed the feelings that I could never put in words in his play “Deep”…..

One of my favourite memories was at the end of every Saturday night, without fail, when the lights had come up and the music had been faded out people would stamp their feet, dance, whistle and keep going!!!!

I saw a beautiful quote from someone when Henrys was finally closed – “Someone once said that Henrys was just a black room at the top of a black stairs…. I realised when it closed down that physically thats all it was…. for those who belonged it was a whole lot more…..”

I hope Ive stirred a bit of nostalgia (I certainly have for me….)

Regards and best of luck, I will certainly be at the exhibition.

Triona Dunlea