How Could We Make the Huguenot Quarter Even More French?
Like tacky Irish bars abroad, clichés and out-of-date stereotypes are crucial in attracting tourists en masse. Cork’s Huguenot Quarter in the heart of the city centre has had a French feel since the Huguenot’s arrived from France in the late seventeenth century, but with our insatiable appetite for tourists, maybe it is now time to ramp it up and go all-singing-all-dancing frogs legs, onion necklaces and stinky cheese.
With some carefully placed camembert in our ham sandwiches and a glass of wine from the one of the finest vineyards in Upper Aghada, we’ve been mulling over how we could turn Cork’s Huguenot quarter into a complete fromage fest.
Let’s start with what we’ve got:
1. Huguenot graveyard and site of the old church: check.
2. Restaurant named after a French city: check.
3. A list of Lord Mayors and a fair few Corkonians with Huguenot surnames: check.
4. A new top class Cork-France themed mural by Garreth Joyce. Check.
5. French Connection clothes store on the corner of Carey’s Lane and Pana (the side of which has been recently painted in the colours of the French flag because it was covered in graffiti for years which definitely had nothing to do with us). Eh…check.
Right, it’s not a lot, but it’s a starting point.
Let’s move the Alliance Francais from Mary Street and the Brittany Ferries office from Grand Parade over to a new Cork-French cultural centre on Carey’s Lane named after Richard Hennessy who founded the Hennessy Cognac dynasty in France. He was from from Killavullen near Mallow, would you believe?
Visitors will get a few free shots of the good stuff into them so they may actually begin to believe that they are actually in some genuine French enclave and not a made-up tourist trap.
Down the street they’ll be funnelled into the Ronan O’Gara Museum (called ‘Le ROGuseum’) where French rugby fans can come and pay homage to the man who not only coached Racing 92 in Paris for four years but remains the Six Nations top scorer of all time.
|Chief-tan: Ronan O'Gara et la femme.|
We’ve been thinking for a while that ROG, like Dublin underpants-fighter Conor McGregor, should take advantage of his international sport star celebrity status and get his own alcoholic drink on the market. Positioning the brewery or distillery around French Church Street would be a boon for the local economy.
Choosing the right type of booze to tempt both his well-heeled Irish fans as well as visiting rugby fans from France is crucial though and like a penalty kick from the touchline this will either split the posts or dribble along the ground like a soggy sliotar in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
A red wine with a savage kick and a bitter after-taste might be fitting, or perhaps a ballsy 37% vol. rum called “Ruman O’Gaga” which, if you’re a French visitor with dodgy English, might seem like the correct spelling of his name after a few shots.
After the unforgettable, Tour De Rog at Le ROGuseum, punters will be quare hungry (and fairly twisted too) so visitors to the “Quartier Francais de Lah Cork Lah” will be delighted with the full French stereotypical dining experience.
The golden rule of French restaurant service is that the customer is always a pain in the arse and all waiting staff in the Huguenot Quarter need to change their game.
For example, having asked for their steaks to be cooked “well-done”, customers should be physically ejected from their seat and thrown into the street with an optional kick up the arse.
|Everytime one of Finbarr's customers disgusts him by ordering a steak "well done" he has to go outside to calm himself down|
In France, a good sirloin cut only needs to be brought within twenty feet of a candle flame for five seconds before it is considered cooked – in fact, the meal should really be considered much like a plate of blood with an incidental piece of meat thrown in for bite. And if you get food poisoning you probably deserve it.
French Church Street, Carey’s Lane and Paul Street are full of great restaurants and cafés – many of which have outside seating areas. For proper French authenticity at least half of all the people sipping coffees outside the area’s cafés should be air traffic controllers who are currently on strike.
Already slaves to the 22-hour week with 57 days holidays a year (plus one week’s vineyard cultivating leave) these individuals should bear the look of someone who is heavily oppressed – contemporary Huguenots of their day perhaps – deep in thought about how to free themselves from the government’s relentless persecution of them.
Next week we look at more ways we can bring a slice of France to Leeside and how Corkonians themselves can help by changing their accents slightly, taking up smoking and having affairs just to show their wives/husbands how much they really love them.
A bientot, feens.
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