home Colour, Features “Club H” – A Different Kind of Gravy | Conor Breen

“Club H” – A Different Kind of Gravy | Conor Breen

Thursday nights will never be the same again. Are you ready for Cork City’s best audio/visual club experience? We are talking two club rooms, four bars and a huge LED stage. There will be fire breathers, exotic dancers and even jazz musicians for you to feast your eyes upon.  We offer shift-failure insurance for all those who feel that they may not get lucky. Bradley from S Club 7 will be pulling free pints of Bavaria all night and in the “jacks” we are offering a meet and greet with X Factor’s Louis Walsh. Finally, if you post  “BRING ON THE HANGOVER” to our page numerous times, we promise to give you the ULTIMATE V.I.P. PACKAGE, which includes getting a foot rub by 90’s rapper Coolio, while 18 Vestal Virgins strum out the theme tune to “Kenan and Kel” on mandolins.

     Needless to say, The Savoy’s latest attempt at penetrating Cork’s student clubbing scene went off with a whimper rather than a bang. I left the club that Thursday night in a state of disillusionment. I began having dark thoughts, that perhaps at the tender age of twenty-one that there was no club in Cork that could satisfy my needs. Maybe clubbing was no longer for me. I could no longer bare the sight of young fellas hoppin’ off walls to the “Gangnam Style” like contestants on “Takeshi’s Castle”. I hated the smoking rooms; old classmates appearing from the nicotine mist and making my ear enter saliva-induced comas. I had simply grown weary of emerging from nightclubs looking like I had spent three days in the Mardyke sauna. This particular Thursday night I perched myself up against Daybreak on Grand Parade and was feeling particularly disheartened by my predicament. My stomach rumbled. I looked up and there shone an orange beacon of light. Little did I know this was the answer to all my prayers.

The Hillbillies Fountain – a famous Cork landmark

“Hillbilly’s” is an institution. An institution greater than the Christian Brothers I have heard argued by many a man cradling his snack box at 3 in the morning.  By its closest followers it is affectionately referred to as “Club H”, because they will assure you…it much more than a chipper. I decided to immerse myself in this epicentre of the Cork nightlife experience. Outside the premises sat an intoxicated student nursing what appeared to be a “breast in a bun”. His friends were attempting to drag him away because he was proving to be an obstruction to people attempting to enter the establishment. He threw his arms aloft and refused to move with all the stubbornness of a drunken uncle at the family Christmas party.

To the right of me sat a girl who was enjoying some of “Hillbilly’s” fine produce also. Her problem lay in the eating of the food however. I watched as she ate her taco chips with all the grace and guile of a Tulisa sex tape. Then suddenly a chorus of five Geordie Shore cast-offs broke out in song. They gave a rendition of the timeless classic “Let’s Go Fuckin’ Mental”.  They followed this up with a chant about the Toure brothers which was accompanied by a clearly choreographed dance routine. The place was liftin’.

I then entered “Club H”, stood back and examined the menu carefully.  I placed my order with a very pleasant Russian lady who initially had trouble understanding my North Kerry accent. To the left of me was a man as “fuckin’ high” as James Blunt, who was expressing his disgust at the surcharge for gravy on his chips. It was a needless exchange and once Helga arrived on with my food, I offered the disgruntled man my tub of gravy. He accepted my kind offer and waddled out the door. I found a seat and just as I was about to indulge in my little orange box of delight, the man sitting next to me  turned and said “do you come here often?”. I came to learn that this man’s name was James Mc Quinn. He was a third year Commerce Student and a regular at “Club H”. A Fermoy native, he told me of how this establishment is the linchpin of the Cork social scene. He told me a tale of how the Queen in fact stopped at “Hillbilly’s” for a garlic cheese chip on her visit to the city less than two years ago. He then gave me four reasons why this place is truly the best:-

1)    It’s ACCESSIBLE, priding itself in the fact that it boasts the lowest refusal rate in Cork. The bouncers are genuine men and not cauliflower-eared ex-Cork Con rugby players who are on power trips because they are good pals with “Zeeb’s”. “Club H” doesn’t ask you for your age card, quiz you on your alcoholic intake or require you to remember you’re a Sagittarius and that your Confirmation name is Giles.

2)    “Hillbilly’s” forecourt provides ENTERTAINMENT. It is fully equipped with a water fountain and has an endless supply of morons who are willing to climb into it. There are always boys off their noodles leapin’ off this iconic Cork landmark thinking they are FelixBaumgartner, only to be greeted by a Garda presence upon their return to planet earth. In addition to this the forecourt here is Cork’s answer to Madison Square Gardens as it plays host to all the major bouts.  Drunkards clotheslining each other like the Hardy Boys in their pomp.

3)    The food it produces is so much more PRACTICAL than its competitors. Take a second and put the Hillbilly’s trademark chicken tenders dish adjacent to a competing drunken weapon of choice, the kebab. The impracticality of the kebab is soon evident. Even a man in his sobriety and with fully functioning motor neurons will struggle to guide a kebab into his mouth without there being some level of scree. The shrewder customer will opt for the chicken tenders knowing that he is sparing himself a journey to the dry cleaners in the morning.

4)    “Club H” is like that stray dog you took in off the street when you were ten and with whom you share an indefinite amount of love and affection for still to this day. “Club H” is loyal and RELIABLE. Whilst you mightn’t wake up every Friday morning with the taste of shift in your mouth, you can still be rest assured that some bird, albeit chicken, tantalised your taste buds the previous night. (I’m going to draw to line here before I start creating horrible innuendos involving snack boxes….)

I waved down a taxi and hopped in. I exchanged the customary pleasantries with Victor the driver before engaging in a ferocious debate as to who was Nigeria’s greatest soccer player. I said Jay Jay Okocha, he said Kanu, in the end we agreed it would be better suited if the rest of the journey home was in silence.

I sat back and began to think of the night I just had. The words of James Mc Quinn were still whisking around in my head. It became apparent that the best nightclub in Cork had been under my nose all along. This is a social setting where the art of conversation can thrive. Man need not compete with overbearing Flo-Rida music and can enjoy a fag whilst being able to converse. Courting can flourish in an environment where visibility is perfect and “the wink and elbow language of delight” can be appreciated. Camaraderie is allowed blossom, as people share food, while laughing at the drunken antics of the misfortunes around them. Forget the bait these other clubs throw at you -the huge dance floors, LED stages and washed up musicians- because this is all just smoke and mirrors. “Club H” truly is a different type of gravy….the best type of gravy.