Sean O Neill

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….

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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.

Regards,
Sean O’Neill