From the ar­chives: When a he­li­copter was used to put a pi­ano on top of Blar­ney Cas­tle. Stephane Grap­pelli’s happy re­turn to Cork

Irish Examiner - Supplement - - GUINNES CORK JAZZ FESTIVAL -

THE Cork City Jazz Fes­ti­val got off to a fly­ing start yes­ter­day when an up­right pi­ano was swung by he­li­copter onto the 150-foot roof of Blar­ney Cas­tle.

Mo­ments later, vet­eran pi­anist Bob D arch was tin­kling the ivories — and the best of rag­time clas­sics were waft­ing out over the fa­mous lit­tle vil­lage.

There was some anx­i­ety as 31- year- old pi­lot, Capt Mick Hen nessy of Ir­ish He­li­copters Lim­ited, ma­noeu­vred the Bolkow BO105 into po­si­tion above the cas­tle tur­rets.

“Can you imag­ine some­one driv­ing down the road and see­ing that,” quipped the Alaskan pi­anist who had just fl own in from Den­mark.

But skil­ful han­dling won the day and there were smiles all round as the Cork City Jazz Band drowned out the sound of the fad­ing ro­tors.

The stunt was the brain­child of Cork Ex­am­iner di­rec­tor, Billy Cr os bie, who dou­bled on this oc­ca­sion as another “boatered” mem­ber of the band.

The event was jointly spon­sored by Cork Ex­am­iner Pub­li­ca­tions and Guin­ness.

The trusty old up­right was pro­vided — and not with­out some trep­i­da­tion — by Brain For­rest of The Spa­niard, Kin­sale.

Mr Charles Colthurst, son of the cas­tle owner, Sir Richard Colt hurst, de­scribed the stunt as “a tremen­dous idea”. He said: “My re­ac­tion from the start was – if they can do it, that’s OK with me.”

The whole af­fair brought de­lighted cheers from the many Amer­i­can tourists gath­ered at the base of the cas­tle. The scene at the top was recorded on video and is due to ap­pear on US TV screens in the near fu­ture – a worth­while ad­ver­tise­ment for next year’s sum­mer sea­son.

“We’ve cer­tainly started on high note,” com­mented fes­ti­val di­rec­tor, Mr Jim Moun­tjoy.

Guests at the cas­tle en­joyed a mulled wine re­cep­tion, hosted by the Ho­tel Blar­ney. With crisp, sunny weather, it was a ‘Mar­tini ad scene’.

Pic­tures: Ed­die O’Hare

Left, the he­li­copter lifts the pi­ano to­wards the top of Blar­ney cas­tle; right, Rag­time Bob Darch and the Cork City Jazz Band get pro­ceed­ings un­der way.

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