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