Sir Henry's

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Sir Henry's was a bar and nightclub on South Main Street in Cork, Ireland. It was founded by Jerry Lucey in 1978.[1] The name was derived from Henry O'Shea, a baker and building owner in the South Main Street area of Cork city.[2] The club was known for its Dance, Trance, R&B, Hip Hop and regular live rock concerts. Gigs held there included a number by The Golden Horde, Toasted Heretic, Sonic Youth/Nirvana, Therapy?, The Wedding Present and The Fall.

During late 1980s the club ran a series of three-night long acid house weekenders, which attracted DJs such as Laurent Garnier,[3] Shades of Rhythm and Justin Robertson. From the mid 1990s its dance nights were mostly deep house. The venue closed in June 2003 and the building demolished soon after.[4]

Early years[edit]

Sir Henrys was a rock bar for many of its early years, a large video screen in front of the stage showed rock videos for customers. In the early to mid 1980s its clientele included members of Nun Attax (later "Five Go Down To The Sea") and Belsonic Sound.[5] The club at the time also held gigs by an older and more traditional "pub rock" element, but this scene had died out by circa 1987.[5]

Many of Ireland's up-and-coming young bands performed here[6] and the 'Battle of the Bands' was held there for a number of years where unsigned talent competed for a recording contract. Artists that performed there over these years included Phil Lynott, John Martyn, ex-Clash Mick Jones' Big Audio Dynamite, The Pogues and The Sisters of Mercy.

On August 20, 1991, Sonic Youth played Sir Henry's, supported by the then virtually unknown band Nirvana.[7][8] Some scenes were featured in the documentary 1991: The Year Punk Broke.[9]

Dance venue[edit]

As dance music became more popular and the demand for small venue live gigs decreased, Sir Henry's became a venue for the "Sweat" night. Started in 1988 by Shane Johnson and Greg Dowling, this was to become one of the top clubs in Europe in the early 1990s,[10] supplemented with the addition of the Back Bar with DJ's such as Donkeyman (Mark Ring) and Stephen Grainger (Stevie G).

Over the 1990s Sweat built up an international reputation, being variously described as "a gorgeous blend of underground house" (i-D), a "deep house frenzy" (The Face) and "the best music on that side of the Irish Sea" (DJ Magazine). By the mid 1990s Sir Henry’s had become a house venue, playing host to some of genre's better known artists such as Kerri Chandler, Jerome Sydenham, Roger Sanchez, Glenn Underground, Cajmere, Derrick May, Migs, Fred Everything, Charles Webster, Kevin McKay, DJ Deep, and Mike Pickering.[11]

The short independent films "120 bpm"[12] and "The House That Cork Built" record the club's place in Irish House music.[13] The venue hosted the "alternative" disco night Freakscene for many years.[14]

The venue was seen as "more than just a nightclub" and is remembered with affection.[15][16] Cork hurler Brian Corcoran devoted a section of his autobiography, Every Single Ball, to the venue, saying it was the only nightclub in which he truly felt comfortable.[17] The club's flyers, posters, and compilation tapes were collected by regulars as souvenirs.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sir Henry's to re-open in Cork (as an exhibition on campus in UCC)". Irish Times. 24 June 2014.
  2. ^ "Pleased to meet you. Sir Henry is my name..." Irish Examiner. 12 July 2014. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  3. ^ "DJ Laurent Garnier talks to The Scene". Irish Daily Star. 15 March 2014. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  4. ^ Carroll, Jim. "Digging for gold at Sir Henry’s again". Irish Times, 18 September 2013. Retrieved 4 September 2015
  5. ^ a b McAvoy, 2009
  6. ^ a b "Go clubbing in Sir Henry's in Cork? They want your memorabilia". The Journal. 17 May 2014.
  7. ^ "Cork '91 - When Nirvana came to town". Irish Examiner. 4 April 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  8. ^ "Sonic Youth, Nirvana, The Frank & Walters – remember when they played Sir Henrys?". Irish Times. 28 June 2014.
  9. ^ The documentary documents Sonic Youth and Nirvana's 1991 European tour. The list of cities are shown at the beginning of the documentary and it includes the Cork date
  10. ^ "Marking 25 years since 'Sweat' night in Sir Henrys". Irish Examiner. 26 November 2013.
  11. ^ "Kerri Chandler describing atmosphere in Sir Henry's".
  12. ^ "Full video of the 120bpm film".
  13. ^ "Cork Filmfest Article". Review of Film on Sir Henrys. Archived from the original on 2008-07-23. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  14. ^ Brian O'Connell (8 May 2012). "The club night that won't stop the beat". Irish Times.
  15. ^ "Cork's Sir Henrys: More than just a nightclub". Irish Examiner. 9 July 2014.
  16. ^ "Digging for gold at Sir Henry's again". Irish Times. 18 September 2013.
  17. ^ Corcoran, Brian (November 2006). Every Single Ball. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 1-84596-200-1.


  • McAvoy, Mark. "Cork Rock: From Rory Gallagher To The Sultans Of Ping". Cork: Mercier Press, 2009. ISBN 978-1-85635-655-8

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°53′46″N 8°28′34″W / 51.896°N 8.476°W / 51.896; -8.476