… 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.

Lost Video Tape

As I read the memories of past pupils of the Henry’s school….my own ones come flooding back to the surface.
My brother worked as a glass collector in the Grand Parade in the late 80’s prior to the Sweat nights(they called him “Feathers” back then)and one night after a drunken night out he happened to recover a years supply of Friday night passes for Henry’s which I commandeered for myself. This was 1990 and even though it was only a fiver in(free before 10 for the dedicated) I used that extra fiver for the 3 pints of Beamish beforehand to stretch out my limbs for the night ahead.
So began a beautiful relationship….friday nights were a musical education in itself…one must remember that not every Friday night was a capacity night…more often than not it was dead in the water but when it hit the spot the atmosphere was something to behold. I was repeating my leaving cert at the time so all week was a campaign for the class to meet up in Henry’s and when the call
was answered…anything could happen!!!
Sure, we were all on a voyage of discovery at a seminal moment in history when multiple trends were on the up and the overall mix created, produced some great music and memories. Henry’s catered for the kind of people in search for a different kind of tune and the ‘laissez faire’ attitude within created the legend that we all remember. I had no allegiance to the place whatsoever….sometimes I couldn’t bear it but in the beginning of my journey it was the only place to go without hearing the dreaded pop music of the day.
As Henrys expanded into the backbar things got more exciting….I never forget seeing Eddie Butt down the back bar setting up his decks… playing his record collection for the first time. Donkeyman on a Saturday night playing some 2tone Ska for the 1st time with a load of bomber jacketed skinheads hopping about the place….this was knocked on the head fairly lively due to fears of a fatal collision or worse still the floor collapsing. For anyone walking through those doors for the first time on a Saturday night…visiting the back bar and slowly moving towards the main room was a seminal experience…the sounds …the smells…the people….the music…nothing like this had happened before it and the ordinary people who went there regularly knew it. From late 1990 to 1992 was a voyage of discovery for all concerned….
This was all pre mobile smart phones so there are no proper records of any goings on within the place which probably adds to the mystique…however I do remember one Saturday night when Sean O Neill was filming us nutters from the DJ Booth. I have it on good authority that his sister(Deirdre) apprehended this video tape because her husband Ian was my brothers best man(small world in Cork). He commented to me one day years later that he had a video tape of me acting the eejit in front of Sean back in the day. You couldn’t miss me with my big curly mop of hair…some people referred to me as ‘Sideshow Bob’ …an uncanny resemblance!!
The search continues for this piece of history…my history….
I have countless memories of those hallowed halls but as others have said …I can also lay claim to DJing in the back bar on 2 occasions…thanks to the 1st hit the decks competition which enabled myself and my cousin along with Stevie G amongst others to have our day in front of a grateful crowd down the back bar..
I could go on forever and probably will….

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

More than just a nostalgic nod to the past

This was posted on Stevie G’s Blog yesterday ahead of the opening. We post it here today cause we thought it was so great. Thanks Stevie   Tonight the Sir Henry’s Exhibition opens at UCC Library. Everyone is welcome and it kicks off at 6pm, plus it will be running all summer. I’ve helped curate this exhibition but in truth Martin and Eileen of UCC did nearly all of the work. The support from Cronan and all at the Library and UCC has been unbelievable and it’s great to see that they look at the whole thing as an important part of Cork’s social history.  When initially asked to get involved I was very reluctant as it was just after Shane and Greg had marked the 25th anniversary of the beginning of Sweat with some big nights and a very good exhibition in the Pav. Like us all I was nostalgia’d out, and could not see much point in further doing what the Sweat and Go Deep duo had done so well. The UCC library one though took a different direction, and it soon became apparent that it was gonna delve into territory that even long time gig goers & clubbers like myself had little idea about. I wasn’t about in the 80s when many of the great gigs in Henry’s took place, and I was fascinated to learn more about the different bands that I had heard so much about growing up. The stories from those involved were amazing and I soon realised that if we didn’t document this now an opportunity would pass forever. The Lucey family, Jack Lyons, and a cast of hundreds, had material to submit and stories to tell, and the exhibition gathered amazing momentum on facebook and twitter where people often forgotten about suddenly surfaced.   I knew pretty much everyone on the dance side of things as I had been there through most of that era and DJ’d there for nearly ten years, but the opportunity to present a snapshot of both dance and rock elements was too good to ignore, and I hope people enjoy checking it out. I have been previously frustrated with one or two of the attempts to document things that were important to me 20 years ago, and even valiant efforts such as the 120 BPM documentary didn’t capture the magic of the place for me. It hardly mentioned the music which was always the key and the key people such as Greg and Shane were relegated to tiny roles.   In recent years, Ray Scannell, a good friend of mine and a Henry’s regular in its later years, put some great research into his one man show called “Deep”, which remains a must see and which will return to Cork later this year. This UCC Exhibition in a relatively small space is not gonna answer every question, cover every band or acknowledge all of the DJ’s and people who made those years special, but in truth that was gonna be impossible. I repeat that it is a snapshot that has been created by and large by those people who have been very forthcoming and helpful in supplying material and memories.   My biggest fear was that more nostalgia would hold things back, especially seeing as I personally think Cork has never been more exciting for young people and “medium to young” people like myself! The amount of great bands in Cork now is unreal. The Altered Hours, The Careers, Shaker Hymn, Elastic Sleep, Laurie Shaw and others have got me really excited, and the massive wave of DJ’s from the 90s has been replaced by a bunch of producers and electronic acts who are doing their own thing too. I’ve just started my own record label releasing soul music, and it’s quite significant that many of the DJ’s from that era are all living firmly in the present and looking to the future.   Greg and Shane are at the cutting edge of house with Go Deep and Fishgodeep and they have led by example by only rarely looking back once a year. Marq Walsh has his own label too, while my former Back bar protege Colm K is a highly respected producer with international releases as well. There’s tons more too. Many of the Henry’s regulars of the 90’s such as John Daly have taken things to the next level too as producers, while those who DJ’d there and run nights, like Joe Kelly, Hungry, Eddie K and Fork, to name a few, are still actively involved in the Cork music scene in 2014. I’m more excited about now and though I appreciate that as people get older many romanticise their youth, I can honestly say that things are better with more opportunities now. But the lack of choice elsewhere was one of the key reasons why Henry’s was so good too at the time.

We’ve worked with some kids from Gurranabraher who have created a piece inspired by a place they never experienced, and that will be on display in UCC too. Another youngster, Tuathla Lucey is the granddaughter of Jerry, who opened the building and whose vision shaped the place, and she has been actively involved in documenting its history by interviewing many of those involved. The exhibition will hopefully inspire creativity from our young people, I know that that era shaped everything I’ve ever done subsequently, and it was the same for many more. I’d love to hear their thoughts on this exhibition too.   Donkeyman jpegI don’t think it was the actual bricks and rock of the building itself that made it so special I wasn’t even slightly bothered when it got knocked in 2003. Many of us had left and never returned in 2001, and it was clear that things were over. I certainly did not want to look back back then. It was the music and the people that made everything special, and hopefully the exhibition will celebrate this. There were many other special places too, and many of these are now also gone. Such is life. To my own eternal embarrassment, I forgot to mention many places when submitting a list of these for the exhibition, and I’d like to acknowledge Lebowskis right now, which was a great pub during the last few years of Henrys and was often a feeder bar for the venue that often captured the atmosphere of the club inside too! Nights like Immramma, the Funk Shop with DJ Fork, Joe Kelly’s Friday nights, Revelation Sound, Bastardo Electro, Free la Funk and tons more have had little mention, and some of the DJ’s I worked with and influenced me, such as Gina Johnson, should have got more coverage too. I’ve been thinking about some great gigs with bands like Collapse, who were ahead of the game mixing electronica and rock. But it’s a tiny exhibition and it was about more than all of these great DJ’s and acts, I guess.   Fashion Shoot jpegI’m sure many other people and DJ’s and bands and places will have been not mentioned, but the exhibition is also very much a rolling effort where social media and blogs like this will shape how we look at Sir Henrys. Originally, we also wanted it to be much more than Henry’s, which was not everything, but time and space meant that it was important to keep the focus relatively limited. Maybe someone might try and dig deeper into the history of the Arcadia now, or go further back that the 70s and 80s with another exhibition?  Books have been written and admirable attempts have been made, but this is our social history and there’s scope for more. The single most exciting thing about this for me is that UCC are keeping much of this material in a permanent archive, that will survive long after you and me are gone. While we are here it’s imperative that the people who knew about this venue are the ones telling others about it, before it’s too late. I studied up in UCC 20 years ago and started DJing up there in the old bar on Friday afternoons with Colm O’Riordain, Brian Power and company. We were the alternative and I’m suprised we got away with it back then. I used go upstairs and listen to my newly bought records on the music departments Technics (still there!) on the top floor of the very building that will today house this exhibition. UCC jpegI’ve spent more time in that library in the last few weeks than I ever did studying English and History but i’ll always remember the head of the history department Joe Lee shaking my hand when i got my degree and telling me to pursue what I was really interested in. He knew that was music. It’s funny how things come around and I’m delighted that a small fragment of Cork’s social history is now on show in one of the most beautiful places in our wonderful city.                      

… and I kept on dancing…

Catriona Hegarty provides us with our most succinct post – and a reminder of one of the perils of dancing in Henrys…

One of my funniest memories of Henry’s was dancing away one night at the edge of the main dance floor near the step up to the next level, minding my own business, quite close to a guy dancing on the step who was lost in the music, doing that typical house dance punching his arms out straight ahead of himself, when next thing I know I got punched straight in the face!!!!! Totally accidental of course and the guy couldn’t have been more apologetic “gurl I’m so sorry, you alright?” Which I was of course and I kept on dancing!

Sweat – the people of Cork were in their own way what made it magic

A nice email arrived in from Alan Collins… now our latest post. Thanks Alan…

Hi my name is Alan Collins. I served my time in Sir Henrys from 93 to 03 hardly ever missing a Sat or Thurs night. I know Stevie. I was blood sober for every one of those nights. Sad I know ha! That place was and is very special to me.  It’s still a big part of my life. It inspired me at the time to visit the infamous Shelter, and Body and Soul clubs in New York and The End up in San Francisco , the Rex in Paris but Sweat was really better ,the seemless mixing of Greg and Shane , the sound system I think came from New York was flawless and the people of Cork were in their own way what made it magic. I used to sit on a railing on the stage at the back of the main room when I was all danced out and look around at a mass of bodies jacking grooving doing their own thing ,it didn’t matter to the music , I never took it for granted I savoured every second and I will never forget! Strong words I know but it and the music were my life. I was very lucky to be part of it. I wish you well with your project drop me a line if you want my stuff or If I can help in any way Alan