Are Buskers Sweet Songbirds or Bang out of Tune?

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Séan Delaney weighs in on the issue of Dublin’s busking scene.

 

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Many people coming to Ireland from abroad like to talk about the vibrant atmosphere; the chatting, the friendly faces, and the general buzz around towns. An integral part of this atmosphere, particularly in Dublin, are the buskers who are out on the streets every single day, regardless of the weather, delivering a tune to those passing-by. However, busking in Ireland has recently become the subject of some debate with restrictions being considered on where, how, and when buskers can perform. It begs the question: Are buskers sweet songbirds or bang out of tune?

Recently, Dublin City Council passed a number of by-laws restricting buskers and street performers in the city centre. This comes with an upsurge of relief, particularly among business owners, that see performers as little more than irritants. One might make the argument that busking in the streets is barely a step up from begging. At least, that is the rationale behind the complete ban on busking in cities such as Paris. Furthermore, it might be argued that buskers only add to the ever-increasing noise of the city, which not only contributes to noise pollution but also may discourage people from coming into the city to shop. While you can be tempted to see this point-of-view, it can be difficult to believe.

“Music and performance on the streets helps to build the image of what people imagine Ireland to be.”

Ireland has always had a wealth of musical talent. We have always had a reputation for a lively and fun atmosphere. Dublin, in particular, is now seen as one of the most beautiful and enchanting cities in Europe. The presence of buskers on Ireland’s streets serves to help and improve this atmosphere and image. Music and performance on the streets helps to build the image of what people imagine Ireland to be. It creates the atmosphere for which Ireland has gained its popularity and also helps to display the wealth of talent that Ireland has to offer. Yes, it does add to the noise of the city, but what is the alternative? Would you prefer to listen to the noise of cars and buses, or perhaps the shouting of someone having a fight? Wouldn’t you rather hear a young sprightly fiddle-player, or a singer-songwriter belting out the songs they wrote in their bedroom? Yes, buskers are loud, but they block out the miserable din of the city and create an atmosphere that is welcoming and lively.

“Would you prefer to listen to the noise of cars and buses, or perhaps the shouting of someone having a fight?”

If busking were to disappear from Ireland’s streets, it would certainly be missed. There is no replacement for the atmosphere that street performers provide, and if they are contributing to noise pollution, it’s a positive contribution.

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