Shinrone musician James McKelvey busks on the streets of Limerick every two or three weeks but last Thursday his busking took an unexpected turn when the Taoiseach joined in for a rendition of Zombie by the Cranberries.
Leo Varadkar had had a turbulent time the previous day in Cork but he gave little indication of this when he went on canvass in Limerick in an upbeat mood.
When he spotted 21 year old James singing the Cranberries hit on Cruises Street outside the New Look shop, and saw that James was inviting him to join in, he decided to take up the offer: “In your head-ad, in your head-ad, zombie, zombie...”
Accompanying the Taoiseach was his Fine Gael canvassing team including MEP Seán Kelly and Senators Kieran O’Donnell and Maria Byrne.
James told the Tribune afterwards that he was “absolutely thrilled” with the experience. “He’s a very nice guy. It was amazing, absolutely amazing.” James had been performing for two hours on the street before the experience with the Taoiseach. Leo dropped a few coins into the busker’s guitar case. “You’re really good,” Leo commented, “and I don’t do bulls***, so I mean it.”
James gave the Taoiseach’s voice a good rating. “I’d give him a strong eight out of ten anyway! Fair play to him. He came in and sang an auld song and so did everyone else. It was brilliant. It was good while it lasted.”
James lives in Shinrone with his parents Jimmy and Joan and he fell in love with music back in 2008. “It was during Christmas and my Auntie and Uncle came down for the festive season and they introduced me to the guitar and a few chords and I was immediately hooked. I have been mad into it ever since.”
James says his influences include such great troubadours as Christy Moore, Gerry Cinnamon and Ed Sheeran. He copies Ed Sheeran’s technique of using a Loop Pedal which he feels is a better way of busking than using backing tracks. He’s a fulltime musician at the moment playing in pubs and weddings, as well as busking.