Buskers are the life and soul of this city and some of them are gaining quite a bit of attention online lately.
Paul Taylor is one of them. You might know Paul by recognising his two little dogs that are never far from his side. “This is Benny, the black fella”, he says as the dogs stir at their names, “and Miley, after Miley from Glenroe”, he laughs as I explain that I’m also from a place called Glenroe.
He orders two coffees and the dogs settle at our feet outside The Quays bar – no doubt hiding from the lashing rain just beyond the canopy.
“I was reared here in Galway”, says Paul. “I was brought up here with the Christian Brothers in Salthill and a few foster families around. I went to boarding school in Saint Mary’s and then headed off to England, as we all did in the 80s’, he adds as he lights a cigarette. “I spent my little time over there working in hotels and then came back and ah, I don’t know, I just fell into the music scene really.”
Paul learned to play the guitar while staying with a friend in Limerick and the pair had their first busking experience outside Dunnes Stores. “We made like a euro – or a pound back then – between us which was great,”, he smiles, flicking ash from the cigarette.
Busking is a daily thing for Paul. “It keeps me sane and it keeps me occupied. It’s something I just love to do.”
If you’re a fan of The Voice of Ireland you may also recognise Paul from two years ago when he appeared on the programme and made it to the live shows. He lived in his car along with his dogs for a while and he believes his story was part of why he got so far in the competition. “I think I had a better story than a voice, because people got voted out that were 10 times better than me,” he confides.
Paul was at COPE Galway’s daycentre looking online for accommodation when he came across an ad for The Voice of Ireland and he decided to go for it. Talking about the experience he laughs. “It was mad sure”, he says. He certainly wasn’t used to makeup and choreographers. “I can’t dance for sh*t”, he says, shaking his head.
And who knew that his time at The Voice would, in fact, lead to an end to his accommodation search. “We got the house out of it really because, I mean, it was high-profile like,” he says as he stubs out the cigarette.
He didn’t expect to get as far as he did, he didn’t even expect the buzzer to go so, when Rachel’s chair turned he was shocked. “But that song, This Year’s Love, has been so good to me over the past few years”, smiles Paul. “I mean the video’s gone viral on Facebook; it’s had over a million views.”
The video is on the This is Beautiful Galway Facebook page of Paul busking on a sunny day. “The lad who’s got the page, his name is Luke. This is Beautiful Galway is his Facebook page and he just passed one day and took it,” Paul explains. “It just caught a beautiful moment I think – it was a lovely day and the dogs were chilled out,” he smiles.
We look out into the rain and he says he’ll wait for it to stop before heading out for another day of busking.
Paul was banned from driving two years ago after drink driving offences. “Things were difficult for me,” he says, “I was throwing back a little more drink than I should be and I got caught and that’s it – lesson learned.”
He’s not sure if he wants a car again, although he would love to get a campervan and travel to festivals around Europe and explore Ireland. “I don’t like to be enclosed, I like to be out and that’s why I’m out every day,” he says.
Check out the video with over one million views here: https://www.facebook.com/GottaGetToGalway/videos/1325441240905889/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE