Art constitutes many forms of expression and in this digital age new art forms are continuing to emerge in society. The world is now occupied by digital immigrants and digital natives and the podcast phenomenon is something that combines the interests of the two generations by using the experience of listening to a show on the radio with the on-demand characteristic that has filtered into many parts of social life. Cork City Council, in cooperation with Acast recognised this and marked a weekend in Cork’s festival journal to celebrate the inaugural Cork Podcast Festival. Friday 11th October marked the start of this festival and looking at the line up over the weekend this form of broadcast media has had a huge effect on society. Podcasts were scheduled throughout the weekend in the Kino, Cork Opera House, Crawford Art Gallery and many other venues, turning Cork City into a haven for those who want to follow the next chapter in a podcast’s story or take their first step into the world of podcasting.
‘West Cork’ was the headline podcast at the Opera House on Saturday 12 th October. In its fourteen episodes it outlines the brutal murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in Schull just before Christmas 1996 and the mysterious ramifications that followed it. In the latest episode, hosts Jennifer Forde and Sam Bungey outlined Ian Bailey’s trial in absentia in Paris earlier this year. They told a story that detailed a trial where Madame du Plantier was placed at the front and centre of proceedings, the predestination of the outcome evident to many people in the courtroom that day. Recordings of those interviewed for this podcast were interspersed throughout the performance as a cellist played in the background adding an eerie atmosphere to the experience. University Express asked Jennifer Forde why she thought Cork Podcast Festival was so important, “The event is incredible, and it has a really diverse program. Storytelling brings people together, whether it’s a case or something I think it does bring people together and sparks conversation. It’s nice to see so many people here tonight and now going to pubs and restaurants and continue to talk about it.” This informative podcast gave viewers a balanced perspective on a case the has grown to be infamous within Irish society.
Businesses around Cork were also embracing Cork Podcast Festival hosting events that mirrored the themes of the weekend. Republic of Work played host to a workshop ‘Podcasting Made Simple’ where participants were introduced to the basics of creating a podcast. Things like content creation, voice training and breathing become key values in this form of art expression. Guest speakers from Toastmasters, radio stations and podcasts made appearances at this event to share their knowledge on how to succeed in this new marketplace where everyone can have a voice. Emphasising the importance of voice control and content creation in succeeding in this market, the workshop gave participants a glimpse into the hands-on world of making podcasts in the digital age.
Blindboy returned to the Opera House on Sunday 13 th October accompanied by guest Collie Ennis, a science research associate from Trinity College who had featured in his own podcast, The Critter Shed, earlier in the day in the Crawford Art Gallery. Blindboy discussed the state of play in climate change in Ireland today and the importance of biodiversity within our changing atmosphere. They talked about practical ways to help curb climate change by making small changes to our environment. Practicalities that can start from your own garden like developing new ecosystems by digging a pond or planting a new network of shrubbery. It’s a subject that has become so topical in recent years on a global scale and Blindboy was not the only podcast discussing the importance of it. The Critter Shed featured both Collie Ennis and Collette Kinsella during which they discussed the different creatures within the pockets of biodiversity both under and over our soil which together make up the microscopic fauna in our environment. It offered a chance to see creatures that you might have only seen on the pages of your biology books in school in the flesh while learning about how they contribute to our environment.
Motherfoclóir also made an appearance during the festival in An Spailpín Fánach and was hosted by Darach Ó Séaghdha, Gearóidín McEvoy, Eimear Tochmarc and Cllr. Peter Kavanagh. The evening started with a discussion about the Innti poetry collective which was an Irish language poetry movement founded in Cork in 1970. Innti was established by Michael Davitt, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Gabriel Rosenstock, Louis de Paor and Liam Ó Muirthile while they were students at University College Cork at a time of turbulence for the Irish language. The Gaeltacht Civil Rights Movement had emerged in the late 1960s to highlight the decline in Irish within society and the movement campaigned for an increase in access to services, broadcasting and an elected assembly that would help to strengthen the position of Gaeltacht communities across the country. The Innti poetry collective sought to draw modern themes into Irish poetry taking inspiration from areas outside of traditional Gaelic themes. Reaching into the frivolity of counterculture that had started to take flight in America was one of the many ways these poets found inspiration for their pieces. Cork City’s new bridge, the Mary Elmes bridge was also discussed during Motherfoclóir. It pays tribute to Cork woman Mary Elmes who has taken her place in World War II history as ‘the Irish Oskar Schindler’. Installed in May of this year, the bridge was formally opened by Mary Elmes’ son in September. The bridge commemorates her place in history in her hometown and opens the door to remembering other Irish figures who helped in the World War II effort.
This was a weekend in Cork that was choreographed to inspire, educate and entertain people as they moved from venue to venue and soaked up the culture of the city along the way. Podcast creators came to the city to share their ideas and research topics through the medium of podcasting as the public followed their stories. Methods of artistic expression are always evolving, and the phenomenon of podcasting is another step on humanity’s journey of sharing knowledge with others from all four corners of the globe.