Laya City Spec adventures continue – onwards to Cork!

This is a follow up to my piece about volunteering at the Laya Healthcare City Spectacular this Summer. If you haven’t had a chance to read the Dublin 2016 piece, you can find it here 😉

Laya City Spec 2016

Originally, because I had applied to volunteer so late, I wasn’t supposed to be 2nd Laya City Spec taking place in Cork. Luckily for me someone dropped out and I was included on the trip. It wasn’t surprising, Considering the job I had to do on Sunday in Dublin and would inevitably have to do all weekend in Cork (YES, I had to deal with the Chipos for all 7 of their shows, but there will be plenty of time to talk about that later).

This year we were leaving a day earlier than last year. So we were leaving on Wednesday, which I kinda liked, but I was a little worried, in case I got called in for a job interview (that never happened). We were meant leave around 11am, but the bus broke down after about a half kilometre, and then after we got a working bus, gear was left behind twice. So, we didn’t actually end up on the road to Cork until about 13:30.


Around 15:30, we stopped off in Kilkenny so we could stretch our legs and get some food, but primarily so we could visit the Smithwicks Experience. It was a fun tour, if a little cheesy, see for yourself.


After the tour, myself, Jessica & Aisling went for lunch with Jason (Seb Whipits) & his wife Kaela, they are a seriously nice couple. After our lovely lunch we headed back to the bus and the rest of the trip to Cork was fairly unremarkable. Just as we were pulling into Cork city my phone rang, it was the Department of Social Welfare, I now needed to go into the welfare office first thing on Monday morning to late sign. You see I had been wrongly told by my Social Welfare case worker, that because I was assigned to her, I no longer had to sign on, how wrong she was. This meant, I had to leave Cork early on Sunday night and would miss the closing festivities. I put those thoughts behind me, as we had reached our accommodation for the week, Victoria Lodge.


That first night in Cork was a quiet one, we got our our rooms, I was in an apartment with Jay & Kaela and Ali (another volunteer). After we got settled in to our rooms, most of us headed down to the local Tescos and did a little shopping. I made a simple dinner, a frozen pizza, and went to bed.

On Thursday, I was free to do whatever I wanted. I decided to head into town for a few hours, so I did a little sightseeing and some shopping. After I was finished in town, I took a bus out to the massive Tesco near our accommodation in the Wilton shopping Centre. Funnily enough, I ran into a group of some of the street performers while I was there.

Cork Town

Later that day, I got a call from Aoife, she asked me to cook dinner for the Dublin volunteers that were already in Cork. I headed back to the little Tesco yet again, I picked up some pizzas and drinks. I had to cook the food in Aisling’s kitchen, because my oven didn’t heat up properly. I cooked some food I had previously bought too, so the volly meal ended up being: 2 pizzas; my sweet potato fries; 2 diced breaded chicken fillets; garlic bread; and a vegetable stir fry with rice noodles and a sweet chili sauce. The vollies were happy for the food, as were Aisling & Jessy, who joined us.


Luckily, I had enough food left over to feed Aoife, Christina, Shane & Ellie, who arrived later. They seemed very glad for the feed after their long trip down from Dublin. We chatted for a little while and decided to meet up for breakfast in the morning. We also had tentative plans to visit a haunted building in the hills on the other side of the river, near the city.

The next morning we met up in Christina, Ellie & Shane’s apartment for a big Irish breakfast: eggs; sausages; puddings; rashers; mushrooms; beans; tomatoes; and toast! Let’s just say everyone was satisfied and no sausage was left behind. We were determined to get into the haunted building, but a few things needed to be taken care of before. Aoife had to go on a site walk with the organisers and some of the performers, so we agreed to meet back at the apartments around 1 and we would see about discovering what secrets were hidden within the walls of St. Kevin’s Asylum.

We headed off around 13:30 and Christina took us all in her car, and we headed to the area where the asylum was located. When we got to the apartments next door, we were a bit worried because there were fences up around the asylum, we kept going, but unfortunately there were builders all around the grounds, as the school next to the asylum was in the middle of a conversion to apartments. A few of us did manage to get into an abandoned church nearby, but my size stopped me from fitting through the small window.

Kevins bust

Since we still had plenty of time to burn, we decided to see what else there was to do. The top 2 choices were Cork City Gaol and the Butter Museum. We opted to pay the former a visit. The Gaol was pretty cool, the main buildings and the new central wing were open to us, however, due to the rot & decay the 2 side wings were off limits.

Cork City Gaol

Throughout the Gaol the tour guide told us about the life in the prison, for the prisoners (men, women & children), the guards (who lived in the prison too), and the warden & his family. In certain parts of the Gaol, mannequins are set up to represent well known inmates. Myself and Shane got to try out the one of the cells, not too bad, if a little bumpy. Certain cells had been used to house members of the 1916 Rising and engravings by them have been preserved on the walls.

Cork City Gaol

Later that night, we went to Sober Lane, ate Pizza and played some darts while the Cork volunteers arrived. The balloon guys joined us too and were nice enough to make each of the Dublin volunteers their own balloon Pokemon.


Later, we joined the performers and organisers in the Electric Bar across the river. Lizardman once again performed for the crowds. This time Lizardman was able to make the condom trick work, and it was hilarious.

We left not long after that, we had a long day and we knew there were 2 more long days yet tom come. Christina dropped us back to the Lodge by car, and then headed off to the train station to pick up the last of the Dublin volunteers. The train goers were Sophie, Emily, Louise and Melody. When I got back I started cooking for the girls arriving soon. They were surprised by the feast and very thankful. We stayed up for a little while chatting, but we were all tired and headed to bed before long.


We had an even bigger breakfast on Saturday morning, we knew there was a long day ahead of us, and we needed to fuel up. It was nice all of us sitting there chatting and we were all fired up for the day ahead.

Down in Fitzgerald park, I spent most of the day dealing with the Chipos again, but thankfully a guy named Eoin from EQ was there to help me, he was great!. Luckily, the Chipos last show was at 5, so once their equipment was delivered around 4, I could go back to normal volunteering duties, and thank God the Chipos finished on Saturday where they would start on Sunday 🙂

I got back to the volly HQ for the poncho fashion show, the girls were making dresses, skirts and tops from the blue & pink ponchos we had.

Poncho Parade Sat

After helping out for a while, Aoife told us to take a break, Sophie and I went to see Seb Whipits last show of the day over on Rainbow stage. His show was awesome, when we got there, a volunteer from the crowd had a stick of celery in his mouth and Seb whipped it out! For his finale, he needed 2 strong volunteers from the audience, and I GOT TO BE PART OF THE SHOW! He tested us to see how friendly we would get – Handshake, to fistbomb, to hug, to a kiss (on the cheek :p). You can check out the stunt in the video below.

Afterwards, we took a trip around the park with litter pickers and a trash bag to try and clear up the last of the rubbish, so we could all finish up as early as possible. At the end of our trash pick-up, when walking by the cheesy bread stand they stopped us and asked us if we wanted some. It was the perfect thing to hit the spot at the end of the day. As we left the park after day 1, I stopped at some cool graffiti and Sophie took a picture of me as Mario 😀


That night , we were all exhausted, so we relaxed with some drinks, tasty snacks and a funny movie. After the movie was over, I had to pack up my stuff and leave out clothes for Sunday, because I had to get the train on Sunday night and wouldn’t be returning to Victoria Lodge after Sunday morning.
Of course we started off Sunday morning with yet another fry (probably the largest one!) and my last breakfast in Cork. The fashion show started design and construction started early on Sunday, thanks to the success of the outfits on Saturday, although the dresses didn’t last as long after the heatwave that hit us later.


I spent most of the day dealing with the Chipos again, I was counting down the shows and the minutes until their last show and I would be free. Unlucky for me, they had an extra show due to a performer drop-out. The heat during the day was oppressive and twice during the day I had to help deliver extra water to tents and stages. It was so hot Ciamh even went to pick up some ice! Near the end of my day Jay showed us a special trick.

Jay Special Trick

Around 6, I had to finish my shift and get changed, I had a train to catch. I said my goodbyes to everyone that I could, the train was 19:20 and I couldn’t be late, or I wouldn’t get home. The train journey was fairly uneventful, if a little lonely. I just relaxed in my seat, watched some TV and listened to some music. I wish I could have stayed to join in the City Spec closing party!


Onwards to the next adventure!!!


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