My Irish classmates often ask me, “What’s the craic?” Even after many months here, I still don’t quite understand fully the linguistic acrobatics that the word “craic” (pronounced “crack”) entails, whether in definition or in its use. My classmates tell me about how they “had a bit of craic” or searched out some “good craic.” Broadly speaking, “craic” is a word that means fun or enjoyment with others, very broadly speaking. It’s a spirit of fun that evades capture in a concise definition, especially for this American student. If you’re wondering about where there is some good “craic,” look no farther than Cork.
Ireland’s Rebel City, Cork, may not be as large as Dublin or Belfast, but Cork has a culture all its own. Designated as a “City of Culture” by the European Union in 2005, Cork has a cultural scene far beyond its size.
An American play was my introduction to Cork’s cultural offerings. Within my first week here in Cork City, I happened upon the Cork Arts Theatre, which was playing Neil Simon’s “Lost in Yonkers.” The Irish actors pulled off the play (and the New York accents) remarkably well. Concurrently, the City was playing host to an International Short Story Festival. With my fellow Cork-based Mitchell, Kelly Kirkpatrick, I went to an uproarious reading from a British author. Then I bought the book and sent it to my mother back in the States.
Cork continues to impress me with its many cultural opportunities. Between the Crawford Art Gallery (which is free, by the way!), the Cork Corona Film Festival, and the Guinness Jazz Festival, the city provides numerous opportunities to learn, grow, and enjoy. After several months here, there’s no shortage of things to do. I can certainly see why Corkonians are so famously enamoured with their lively City. It is indeed a great place for anyone with bottled-up excitement.
One play, “Love, Peace, and Robbery,” was total Cork. At the Cork Arts Theatre, the Cork Rep. Theatre Company performed this crime comedy written by Cork’s Evening Echo court reporter. Based on interviews from Cork prison, the action centers on two recently released Cork criminals plotting one last job. The Cork accent is in full force here. The action is fast-paced, witty, poignant, and, at times, surreal. I could not have planned a more immersive Cork experience for my visiting American friend.
For those considering a visit to Ireland or applying to the Mitchell Scholarship, keep Cork in mind. Some of my favorite memories of this year have been showing the vibrant city of Cork to my fellow Mitchell Scholars and other visitors. For me, Cork has been a great place to live, learn, and make memories.