Singer Roe Byrne says busking on Grafton Street ‘gave me a new wave of confidence’

Son of Thin Lizzy drum technician hopes to follow in Dermot Kennedy’s footsteps

Roe Byrne has become a popular face on Grafton Street at the weekends. Picture Andres Poveda

Amy Blaney

A young Dublin-born singer-songwriter says he owes busking on Grafton Street to giving him a “new wave of confidence”.

Eighteen-year-old Roe Byrne began busking in Dublin at just 14 years of age and has since become a popular face on Grafton Street at the weekends.

The rising musician, from Rathfarnham, is now supporting artists such as Lea Heart in the Olympia Theatre and performed at Electric Picnic last year.

A number of Irish musicians have started their careers busking on Grafton Street, including Dermot Kennedy, Glen Hansard, Bono, Keywest and Damien Rice, and Roe hopes to follow in their footsteps.

“The atmosphere, especially on a Saturday night, is incredible,” he said about busking on Grafton Street.

“The amount of people that stop and listen to you, you wouldn’t get that anywhere else.

“Bewleys would be one of my favourite spots, outside the café,” he said, followed by outside Brown Thomas.

“Everything I have gotten in my career has come from busking. I used to sit in my room and I wouldn’t let anyone else hear me sing, but I went busking and my knees were shaking the first time.

“Once you get over that fear… it gave me a brand new wave of confidence. It took me a while to get over that fear but once you get over it, you have nothing to lose.

“Some day the right person will see you… it’s being in the right place at the right time,” he added.

The young musician took to the stage at Electric Picnic last year for the first time.

Roe Byrne has performed on stage at Electric Picnic

“Electric Picnic is so iconic and I have been wanting to go for years. It was my first Electric Picnic I was ever at, so it was great, the crowd was great,” Roe said, as he recalled watching his inspiration Dermot Kennedy on the main stage.

“He is a big inspiration of mine, the way he holds himself and stays humble, I really look up to that.”

Roe’s father is a drum technician for Thin Lizzy, and has worked as a stage manager for Westlife, Sinéad O’Connor and Ricky Martin.

“It’s good to have the knowledge of the industry, it’s good to have that first-hand information,” he said.

The singer-songwriter has amassed more than 50,000 followers across his social media channels and said it has helped him to grow his fanbase globally.

“Without social media the only people who would hear my music are the people walking down Grafton Street,” he said.

“In this day and age, if you are not posting on social media you are doing something wrong. It totally broadens it to a whole new level, it’s one of the most important things.”

Roe released his latest single, Set Me On Fire, in January and the music video will be launched as part of Kinia Creative Tech Fest this weekend.

Celebrating its 10th year, the event is part of Ireland’s first Kinia Creative Technology Week.

Kinia is an education-focused non-profit organisation and social enterprise providing digital skills to children and young people.

Roe will be performing at two sold-out shows supporting Leah Heart in the Olympia on March 31 and Isaac Butler in Whelan’s on April 2.