busking in Ireland

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gentlemanpiper
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busking in Ireland

Post by gentlemanpiper »

Any buskers who play trad in Ireland, where are the good cities or towns, and is it worthwhile?
bigsciota
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Re: busking in Ireland

Post by bigsciota »

It's been a while since I was living in Ireland and doing a lot of busking there, but as of the mid-2010s at least it was a good country to busk in overall. Most of my busking was done singing with a 5-string banjo, but I also busk with the tin whistle a fair bit. I'm back a couple times a year and I usually try my hand at some point just for fun and old time's sake. These are my main takeaways, but as always they're just my own experiences. I never use amplification or backing tracks because I don't like them, so I have no idea as to regulations or anything like that. And of course, all of this is assuming you know the legalities of busking on whatever visa/passport you have if you're not an Irish citizen/resident.

Dublin has a permitting process that is a bit of a pain if you're visiting and want to busk on the fly (you can get a visitor permit for 10 euro or so but you need to do some extra planning). It's pretty good but fairly well-covered by buskers in the choice spots. I don't know how territorial it is because to be honest, I hate busking with an amp and most buskers there use 'em, so there's lots of competition and noise to battle.

Cork is where I've done the vast majority of my busking, and it's a very solid if unspectacular place for it. Plenty of good spots, so you'll generally find a good pitch. Won't blow you away with what you get but you can make decent money. Playing Oliver Plunkett St. at night when the pubs and clubs get out is a fine line, you can often do well but you're also liable to have someone take a swing at you. I tended to busk Paul St. or Patrick St. during the afternoons, there's usually good pedestrian footfall.

Galway is a busker's paradise in the summer, but that means that the competition can be pretty fierce. When I was busking there regularly I'd wake up early and get to a good pitch, usually along High St. I'd stay playing for the morning and make very good money, then move out. I found finding a pitch in the afternoon way too hit-and-miss, there was often a busker every 20 meters or so. There are new bylaws that mean that buskers have to move pitch every 2 hours; I have no idea how well-enforced they are.

I'll plead ignorance on Limerick and Waterford, never really busked there. Belfast and Derry were decent enough but I was only ever up North twice, so not much to go on.

In the summer some of the touristy towns like Killarney, Kilkenny, Westport, etc. can be really good. It's definitely seasonal; sometimes a town is chock full of people for a couple of months and a ghost town the rest of the year. You'll often see buskers at towns with fleadhs and other festivals on, but there are often a lot of them and many of them are kids, so to be honest I never felt much like trying to compete with them.
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Mr.Gumby
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Re: busking in Ireland

Post by Mr.Gumby »

bigsciota wrote: Thu May 12, 2022 8:51 pm

Galway is a busker's paradise in the summer, but that means that the competition can be pretty fierce.
It's very busy and very noisy though on the main streets, most regular buskers are heavily amplified to make themselves heard. On Shop Street you will be unable to hear which tune a piper is playing unless you come within two metres of them on a regular day.

You will have to find your perch and get on with it:

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or find a quiet spot with good footfall. The Spanish Arch is a coveted spot:

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bigsciota
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Re: busking in Ireland

Post by bigsciota »

Mr.Gumby wrote: Fri May 13, 2022 4:52 am It's very busy and very noisy though on the main streets, most regular buskers are heavily amplified to make themselves heard. On Shop Street you will be unable to hear which tune a piper is playing unless you come within two metres of them on a regular day.
I used to play on High St. a lot, a little closer quarters and more than enough footfall. Singing with a banjo unamplified I was told I could be heard pretty well for enough of a radius, and made quite a bit. But yeah. Shop St. is a zoo.
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Re: busking in Ireland

Post by jim stone »

Did it in Cork and Killarney. I was terrible but the people were kind. Ireland is a nice place
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Re: busking in Ireland

Post by Mr.Gumby »

bigsciota wrote: Fri May 13, 2022 7:37 am

I used to play on High St. a lot, a little closer quarters and more than enough footfall. Singing with a banjo unamplified
High street can get very busy in season but I can see that work, especially at the bottom end where you can play without standing in front of a shop window.

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Druid Lane seems popular enough too although perhaps less in the way of passers-by but narrow enough for the sound to bounce back off the walls.

Here is a bit about the Galway by-laws that came in just before the pandemic.

Made buckets in Killarney during the 80s, especially during race week. Tourist spots can work, did a stint in Clifden around 1990, coach tours would unload in the street and they'd all throw money getting off the bus. These days I would feel too vulnerable sitting down in the street with the pipes.

I see people busk in the Milkmarket in Limerick on the Saturdays, it's a nice environment but again very very noisy. Not sure how lucrative that is though. In the street outside the market is probably the better option but you'd have people around you. I'd prefer to have my back to the wall. Cliffs of Moher used to be good too but that's all permits and designated spots these days.
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jim stone
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Re: busking in Ireland

Post by jim stone »

Wonderful photos, Peter, as ever. Really captures the spirit of busking.
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Re: busking in Ireland

Post by Mr.Gumby »

I don't know, Jim, it's a bit of fun. I do nearly always carry the camera when I go to Galway and shoot them as I find them. :wink:

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jim stone
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Re: busking in Ireland

Post by jim stone »

Spent Years busking. The photos are beautifully composed And they capture what it's like to be creative outside the box. I'm 80 now, and wonder if I'm up for continuing at it. The photos remind me of why I want to.
gentlemanpiper
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Re: busking in Ireland

Post by gentlemanpiper »

Is Ennis a good place to busk?
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Mr.Gumby
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Re: busking in Ireland

Post by Mr.Gumby »

Is Ennis a good place to busk?
It's not a particularly busy town (although in fairness I usually go into town in the morning to do whatever I need to do).

I was listening to a group busking in Merchants Square last week during the Fleadh Nua, while having coffee and something to eat. The atmosphere and weather were good but there wasn't a lot of money going in their direction as far as I could see (that was between two and three on a weekday afternoon).

Viable spots are limited and there may be competition for them at busier times. Streets are narrow, there's traffic and, at times, piped music to avoid. And Council bye laws to at least know about.

Both ends of Merchants square have archways and great acoustics, footfall is perhaps not as great as you'd hope but the sound will carry. It's a pleasant street with cafes with outdoor seating (a covid induced novelty), a healthfood shop, Polish baker and an art supplies shop (and the odd solicitor's office). People having coffee and lunch outside will every note you play. If I'd feel the urge to busk in Ennis, I'd do it there. This is at the Parnell street end, next to O'Mahony's bookshop:

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You'd get a lot of people playing out on special occasions though :D (O'Connell square at the foot of the monument, during the Fleadh some years ago so in fairness, you won't see that happening again any time soon)

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Steve Bliven
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Re: busking in Ireland

Post by Steve Bliven »

Mr.Gumby wrote: Thu Jun 09, 2022 11:10 pm ....(and the odd solicitor's office).
Glad to note that solicitors in Ireland can also be odd. I thought perhaps that was unique to the US.

Best wishes.

Steve
When I was young, I was a poor flute player. But after years of play and practice, I am no longer young.
gentlemanpiper
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Re: busking in Ireland

Post by gentlemanpiper »

Are there any members who know of low cost short term accommodation in Galway and Ennis?
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