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Music Makers

The life of a Grafton Street busker: 'People think you show up and play - but I've been here since 8am'

The scene on Dublin’s premium busking street can be competitive, one performer said. / YouTube

GONE ARE THE days when you could simply show up with a guitar and start strumming away on Dublin’s Grafton Street.

Busking is far more organised these days; permits need to be obtained, noise guidelines followed – and you’re not allowed to occupy the same slot for longer than an hour at a time.

We caught up with three Grafton Street buskers – a violinist who has only recently started playing the street, a funk band making their first foray into busking and a singer-songwriter who plays his original songs for passers-by.

“Damien Rice and Glen Hansard were both buskers on Grafton Street,” that singer-songwriter, David Owens, said.

We have a culture of busking here and a lot of tourists come here specifically to see them.

The 29-year-old Galway singer said he originally worked as an engineer but quit his job to work full time as a musician. He’s visited 35 different countries over the past five years in the course of his new career.

The Grafton Street scene can also be quite competitive. Owens says there’s a specific queuing system for performers – meaning a performer could be waiting for two to three hours to play one of the designated busking spots.

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