It was announced this week that An Réalt Dearg, located on Barrack Street in Cork city, was closing its doors for the final time. I asked Jack Collins, the manager of An Réalt Dearg to write about what Cork is losing with the pub’s closure. What he sent me is, simply put, both powerful and heartbreaking stuff.

I’ve been to some pretty amazing gigs, both home and abroad, over the past few years but nothing can compare to being in a tiny city centre pub, listening to great music with like-minded people who are there to enjoy themselves to the sound of a fantastic, local act or DJ. This is what An Réalt Dearg gave, not only to me, but I’d hope to many more people in the city of Cork and further afield. It is with a heavy heart that I now have to admit to myself and everyone else that the Réalt has now been consigned to the same chapter of Cork’s Music History as other great venues such as The Lobby, Sir Henry’s, The Arcadia, and most recently, The Quad on Tuckey St. It’s a very bitter pill to have to swallow.

I began working in the Réalt in June of 2009, about six months after it first opened. Around this time two years ago I was given the chance to take over as manager and quickly jumped at the opportunity, there was a plan in my head. In my first months of working there live music was sporadic. We had the Céilí All-Stars trad session on a Wednesday and a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights. What I saw from this was an opportunity and a platform to do something I’ve always wanted to do; run gigs. In the two or so years I ran the bar (which I’ve always considerd to be more of a venue) we started Jawbone: Acoustic Folk & Blues Commune with local troubadour Paddy Freeman and O Emperor’s Phil Christie and Alan Comerford on Tuesday’s and I will say quite frankly that it is the best acoustic session you will find in any venue in the country.

A big part of what I tried to implement in the Réalt was an established electronic music ‘scene’ (I hate that word), but concentrating as much as possible on local talent, and to some extent I think we were successful in this. Nights such as ‘Left from Centre’ with Boochy, Herringbone Dread’s ‘Groove Space’, ‘Modulation’ (later ‘Bangers & Mash’), ‘Squelch!’ with Gilbert Steele, Shane Linehan and Seán Galvin’s ‘House is a Home’, Kim Keating’s ‘Workshop’ days/nights and, with regards to international acts, Jack Buckley’s ‘Moons’ parties which saw DJ sets from representatives of four out of the Resident Advisor Top 10 electronic labels of 2010. Not to mention the daddy, ‘Sunday Times, curated by John Hennessy and Barry Walsh. The greatest nights of my life have been had at those parties. Our success in this field even led us to be invited to curate an electronic music performance stage at 2010’s Cork X SouthWest, of which 70% of the music was played by our resident DJs. Having Plugd run out of the pub for a couple of weeks was pretty awesome too. I urge you strongly to support that shop, it’s vital for this city, musically and socially.

I think the ‘scene’ if you will is suffering majorly in Cork, due to a genuine disinterest in new, original local talent. I don’t blame promoters around the city for one millisecond for booking more established acts to play in their venues, not at all. You get the crowd, the band get paid, you may even come away with a bit of profit for yourself. It’s the people in the ‘scene’ that are the problem. By this I mean people are reluctant to deviate from the norm. Sure, it’s great to catch a big inter/national act if they’re playing in town, but people need to support genuinely talented local acts too. Some say that the lack of interest in local talent derives from them lacking talent. This is not true. Next time you see a gig advertised for Saint Yorda, Agitate the Gravel, The Altered Hours, John Blek & The Rats? Go to it. You won’t be disappointed.

The thing I’ll miss the most apart from the music side of things is simply the people. I’ve made more friends in the last two and a half years than I had currently made previous to that in my entire life. The Réalt would simply not have been the Réalt without them. I have to give a special mention to Breda Twomey from the shop across the road who treated us like grandchildren, the woman is one of a kind and I also have to thank my fellow staff, who are the greatest people I’ve ever met. But everyone, regulars, one-off customers, DJs,bands, they all made it what we were, a small friendly little place, with nice comfortable couches, a roaring open fire and one of the best pints of Beamish in Cork (obviously it’d be impossible to beat Callanan’s). But that’s all we were, and now that’s all gone. I hope some people will remember the place, the music and the people with the same amount of fondness that I will. It was the best thing to ever happen to me, and I can’t see that ever changing.