Sir Henry's

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Clubbers at Sir Henry's sweat night, early 90s

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 proprietor in the South Main street area of Cork city. 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.

The club gained international acclaim[citation needed] during the late 1980s from its three-night long acid house weekenders, events which attracted DJs such as Laurent Garnier, Shades of Rhythm and Justin Robertson. The venue closed in June 2003; the building was demolished soon after and is now a car park.

Early years[edit]

Sir Henrys was a rock bar for many of its early years,[2] 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, who represented a new wave of punk-rock inspired music fans.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

Many of Ireland's up-and-coming young bands performed here[3] 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 under their pseudonym "Speed Kings".

On August 20, 1991, Sir Henry's hosted Sonic Youth who were supported by the then virtually unknown band Nirvana.[4][5] Some scenes were featured in the documentary 1991: The Year Punk Broke.[6]

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,[7] 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). The night was one of Muzik magazine's ten best of 1998/99 and was named best regional club on three occasions at the Smirnoff Dance Club Awards.[citation needed] 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.[8]

Short independent films such as "120 bpm"[9] and "The House That Cork Built" recorded the club's place in Irish House music.[10] Coupled with this was the emergence of Fish Go Deep (Greg Dowling & Shane Johnson) as a notable house act in Europe, with their 2006 track, "The Cure & The Cause", reaching number 1 in the British dance charts.

The venue hosted the "alternative" disco night Freakscene for many years.[11] In 2003, the venue's final year of operation, Sir Henry's also hosted what later became Ireland's longest running techno club-night "Bastardo Electrico".[citation needed]

The venue was seen by many Corkonians as "more than just a nightclub" and is remembered with affection.[12][13] For example, 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.[14] The club's flyers, posters, and compilation tapes were collected by regulars as souvenirs.[3]

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. ^ Mark McAvoy (2009). Cork Rock: From Rory Gallagher To The Sultans Of Ping. Mercier Press. ISBN 978-1-85635-655-8. 
  3. ^ a b "Go clubbing in Sir Henry’s in Cork? They want your memorabilia". The Journal. 17 May 2014. 
  4. ^ "Cork '91 - When Nirvana came to town". Irish Examiner. 4 April 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  5. ^ "Sonic Youth, Nirvana, The Frank & Walters – remember when they played Sir Henrys?". Irish Times. 28 June 2014. 
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ "Marking 25 years since 'Sweat' night in Sir Henrys". Irish Examiner. 26 November 2013. 
  8. ^ "Kerri Chandler describing atmosphere in Sir Henry's". 
  9. ^ "Full video of the 120bpm film". 
  10. ^ "Cork Filmfest Article". Review of Film on Sir Henrys. 
  11. ^ Brian O'Connell (8 May 2012). "The club night that won't stop the beat". Irish Times. 
  12. ^ "Cork's Sir Henrys: More than just a nightclub". Irish Examiner. 9 July 2014. 
  13. ^ "Digging for gold at Sir Henry’s again". Irish Times. 18 September 2013. 
  14. ^ Corcoran, Brian (November 2006). Every Single Ball. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 1-84596-200-1. 

External links[edit]

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