Keith Barry Interview | Magic Man

Keith Barry blog 3

Keith Barry |Magic Man

Ahead of his first ever show in Sneem, Fergus Dennehy talks to the world famous magician and hypnotist that is Keith Barry about his new show entitled ‘HypnoMagick’, his love of fishing in Kerry, working in Hollywood with some of the worlds biggest actors and how he thinks that Donald Trump and his White House Staff are in fact master manipulators.

THROUGHOUT his stellar career, Ireland’s Keith Barry has been known by a great many titles. He’s been labelled a magician, a mentalist, hypnotist, brain hacker, an activist for the elderly and in more recent times, he’s even become Hollywood’s go-to resident magic consultant.

Ahead of his upcoming new show entitled ‘HypnoMagick’ in the Sneem Hotel on April 14, I was given the chance to interview the man of the hour and after listening to him speak about his love for his craft, I started to think that there is still one more item that can be added to the above list of titlesand that is that simply put, Keith Barry, is a man incredibly passionate about his craft and someone who is constantly driven to improve and expand upon his already burgeoning repertoire of skills.

Skills gained from a very young age and honed well into his teenage years, Keith admits that practising magic and hypnotiosm weren’t exactly the regular things that a boy his age should have been getting up to.

“I got a Paul Daniels magic set back when I was 5 or 6 and that kind of spawned my initial interest in the whole side of magic and then when I was 14 or 15, I was given another book on the subject called the ‘Klutz Book of Magic’ and this when I first started to perform in the public eye, using all the tricks from that book.”

“At the same time then, I got this little pamphlet on hypnosis called ‘Practical Hypnosis’ and so I started getting involved in that side of things aswell from here and in the years that followed, it all sort of escalated on from there into this amazing career that I have now.”

Keith’s show in Sneem on April 14 will be the first time that he’s performed his shows outside of the INEC in Killarney and he says that while he’s looking forward to hitting the road to new locations, he jokes that if his performing career doesn’t take off any further, he wouldn’t mind setlling down in some quiet Kerry location and fishing his days away.

“I’ve been down in the direction of Sneem a couple of times myself doing a spot of fishing and it’s a truly stunning area. It’s not beyond the real,s of possibility that I’ll spotted sporting a giant beard and living by a river fishing away,” he jokes.

“This will be our first official performance down there and we’re very much looking forward to it; we’ve always played in the Killarney area and we obviously love the INEC and performing there but we realised that Killarney might in reality be too far away for some people to travel to and so we just made the decision to hit the road to places that we’ve never been before.”

“As you can guess from the title ‘HypnoMagick’, the show is going to be divided up into a mixture of hypnotism, mentalism and magic; so parts of the show will involve me manipulating peoples sense of reality and what I like about the performance is that it doesn’t matter if you’re on the stage or in the audience, everybody at some point is going to be a part of the show.”

“Now, obviously I know that some people are nervous when they come to see a show such as mine that they might be landed on the stage with me or something, so I don’t force anybody to come up at all. I just invite people who want to come up and who are willing to give things a go, but still, that being said, it is still a hugely interactive show.”

“In one portion of the show, I basically just perform this mass experiment on all the people in the audience where they will hallucinate for ten seconds into believing that two people are dematerialising right in front of their eyes and it’s a magic trick that really just takes place in the minds of the audience and we’ve been posting the reactions of the crowds from other shows up on social media and you can actually see the people going temporarily insane,” he laughs.

“They can tell that the trick is only happening in their minds but they are powerless to stop it actually happening, even if you believe yourself to a cynic or a sceptic; another thing that I like to do and what people can expect is that every night under hypnosis, I create this ‘UFC Fight Night Conference’ where I hypnotise one person into believing that they are Conor McGregor and I hypnotise the other person into believing they are this Japanese UFC fighter, who can only speak Japanese.

“There is just going to be a load of mentalism throughout the night and people are going to have the opportunity to catch me out and win some money aswell so yeah, people are going to have a really fun time,” he says.

For those of us not in the loop on Keith’s latest exploits these past few years, a litle bit of research shows that the Waterford man has not taken not been resting on his laurels too much; even taking his renowned skills to the glitz and glamour of the Hollywood Hills where he has been busy consulting on the hit ‘Now You See Me’ trilogy, films which follow a group of talented magicians who operate a number of bank robberies and heists.

“I consulted on the first ‘Now You See Me Film’ for couple of weeks a number of years ago; I just looked at the script and I was working with actors such as Woody Harrelson and a number of others aswell.”

“The second film then, ‘Now You See Me 2’, I worked as a consultancy basis for a full twelve month period from day one of production and then I worked on the set for a full three months after this; I was working with all the actors on set to help them with the tricks, we wanted to use as little CGI as possible when it came to the tricks so I had to physically teach all the actors how to do them.”

“We were working on how to produce doves out of thin air, I taught Dave Franco and the rest of the cast how to properly throw and spin cards into a hat for this one big heist sequence at the end of the film and then when it came to the script, if I came up with an idea, I could approach the director and say ‘look, I think this would be a good addition here’ and then we’d go off and look at the practicalities of getting it all done.”

“I still pinch myself everyday because I managed to turn my hobby into my profession and I’ve been loving every minute of it all since I started; I’ve been very lucky to have worked with some amazing people and gotten to do some amazing things so yeah, it’s all been fantastic so far.”

Such is the student of psychology and behaviour that Keith Barry is, I cannot let him go without asking his opinion of the newest and most divisive figure in the world at the moment, American President, Donald Trump.

“He’s got all the hallmarks of a dictator, I suppose, for want of a better word; I mean, people think that he is this lone wolf kind of character that is operating against the grain, but what you have to realise is that he has this huge team behind him who, instead of discouraging his behaviour, are actually actively encouraging him to do this.” he said.

“His advisors are telling him to continue to behaviour I’m convinced because it was this type of action that got him elected; they know exactly what they are doing, they know that people follow certain language patterns and that they can influenced in certain ways,” he finished.

Keith’s ‘HypnoMagick’ show is set to be staged in Sneem Hotel on the night of April 14 with tickets available to buy from and they are being priced from €30 onwards.


Eddi Reader Interview | ‘I feel like I’m coming home’

London Folk And Roots Festival - Eddi Reader

Eddi Reader in full flow.

Ah, It’s so great to hear your voice and to be reminded just a little of Kerry and its people”

These are the first words that the award winning singer/songwriter and 80’s legend Eddi Reader says to me when she answers the phone to me late last Friday afternoon and it’s right then I know that I’ve chosen to right person to talk to this week.

Eddi, who along with her then-band ‘Fairground Attraction’ gained worlwide attention back in 1988 and 1989 for the song ‘Perfect’, a song which she jokingly now refers to as her ‘calling card’, tells me that she is delighted to take my call as it means that that her upcoming show in Siamsa Tíre on February 19 is getting ever closer, a prospect that she admits is all too exciting.

“Oh, I can’t wait to play there again, we’ll be a player short on the night there as one our members is heading away to Japan but I’m sure that we’ll still be able to make a good noise anyway!”she says in her pleasant sounding, almost lyrical, Scottish accent.

The Glasgow born singer has achieved much in her career; she has been awarded an MBE, won two BRIT Awards back in the 80’s and had a UK number one and two with an album and song respectively. For all this success though and all the things she has achieved and the places that she has been to, talking to her on the phone, Eddi only has room in her mind for one topic and that is her beloved Tralee grandmother Margaret Nammock, or as she was more affectionately called her, Madge.

“Well she lived in what I think was Lower Abbey street in Tralee and although she left there way back in the 1920’s, she never stopped telling me about this wonderful place that she called Tralee; I never heard anything but great things about Tralee from my granny Madge. She talked about the town as if it was a Walt Disney magical kingdom,” letting out a loud laugh at the memory.

“She told me about the magic water at the Spa and how she would walk up Rock Street to put some money on the dogs at the track; I just absolutely loved her stories about Tralee, I couldn’t get enough of them, I gobbled them up! She made the town sound like it was some sort of paradise, and so to be able to come back here again and play to my family and relatives here in Siamsa Tíre, it’s a wonderful wonderful feeling.”

Speaking of family, Eddi tells me that there are still a few Nammocks and Roches scattered around Tralee town, some in the Connolly Park area, name dropping Danny and Jimmy Burns specifically as she goes and she says that she will always make the effort to seek them out when she is over here. They remind of her of that special connection she shared with her beloved Madge.

“Granny Madge was 87 when she passed away and I still miss her to this day. I’ve still got all of her records that she kept throughout her life. She wrote to me all throughout my own life when I was growing up; I left home at 18 and she wrote to me, when I lived in London she wrote to me and all through the shenanigans of my youth, she always wrote to me; her advice to me was always so lovely and to this day, I still cherish all of those cards and letters she sent.”

“I had such a strong and special connection to her and Tralee and I think that she, more than any other relative, instilled in me a wonder about the world and that where she came from and grew up was somewhere different and this gave me such wanderlust to see and do so many different things in life,” she continued.

“She gave me some of her Tralee-ness, some of her Kerry-ness and I’m not really sure what it is but certainly when I’m on my way to Kerry and Tralee, I feel like I’m coming home”

Eddi tells me that her upcoming show in Siamsa is her third or fourth time playing the famous venue and she lets out a loud laugh when she remembers her first time playing there, when just her family showed up to watch her play before jokingly praying that people actually turn up to see this time,

“The second time that I played there, there was a few more people there,” she laughed.

“There had been a lot more hype in the papers and a few more people had heard of me so that probably helped! Suddenly there suddenly these two coach loads of people arriving to see me play; it was almost like I was being ‘claimed’ as a Tralee person. A lot of distant Nammocks came to see me play and I even had Elvis there aswell, you know the guy from Tralee who impersonates Elvis; I thought that my Dad would be so proud of me, I had Elvis in the building,” she laughed.

Aside from her upcoming visit, my mind turns to another interest of Eddi’s, poltics. When doing a small bit of research for the interview, my attention was brought to Eddi’s Twitter page, a place where I learn that aside from being a talented singer/writer, she is a staunch activist for everything Scotland with regards to Brexit and Scottish Independence and so I knew that I would admonish myself if I did not at least ask her opinion on the current political situation happening across the pond.

“Brexit, I’ve got no idea about how it’s all going to unfold; all I know is that Scotland, like Ireland all those years ago, we are in a position where it is kind of being ignored.”

“We, the Scottish, have to figure this position out; is this okay? What can we do to change this? Hopefully we can get people around a table with a cup of tea and debate it out like adults with a bit of common sense; you just can’t be sure of what’s going to happen though.”

My talk with Eddi lasted over half an hour and we discussed much more than can be written here, but her final note is one that I feel is a fitting way to end this story:

“When I sing at Siamsa, I feel like I’m singing to that my Granny and that is a very feeling for me. I feel like I’m home”.

The show is set for 8pm at Siamsa Tíre on Sunday, February 19; tickets are €23/ €21 and are available from Siamsa Tíre.

Welcome home, Eddi.