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Busking at the Cliffs of Moher

Jack Campin 10 Jun 24 - 12:35 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 11 Jun 24 - 04:38 AM
Mo the caller 11 Jun 24 - 04:59 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 11 Jun 24 - 05:47 AM
mayomick 11 Jun 24 - 06:09 AM
GUEST,Ray 11 Jun 24 - 06:58 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 11 Jun 24 - 07:04 AM
GUEST 11 Jun 24 - 07:38 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 11 Jun 24 - 07:59 AM
Hrothgar 11 Jun 24 - 04:01 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 11 Jun 24 - 05:00 PM
GUEST,Ray 11 Jun 24 - 05:23 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 11 Jun 24 - 05:42 PM
Joe Offer 11 Jun 24 - 07:36 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 12 Jun 24 - 02:29 AM
Dave the Gnome 12 Jun 24 - 03:24 AM
mayomick 13 Jun 24 - 07:33 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 13 Jun 24 - 09:21 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 13 Jun 24 - 09:40 AM
Tattie Bogle 13 Jun 24 - 05:14 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 14 Jun 24 - 01:51 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 14 Jun 24 - 02:43 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 14 Jun 24 - 02:53 AM
mayomick 14 Jun 24 - 11:25 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 14 Jun 24 - 11:56 AM
Tattie Bogle 14 Jun 24 - 01:15 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 14 Jun 24 - 02:07 PM
Nigel Parsons 15 Jun 24 - 04:47 PM
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Subject: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 Jun 24 - 12:35 PM

Found this on Reddit at r/Busking . Local authority regulation doesn't get worse than this.

Cliffs of Moher [Busk.Co newsletter] Ireland

** Cliffs of Moher

Making life bad for buskers since 2007**

"In some ways it had become an easy way to make money. You go up there in the middle of August with a tin whistle and whether you can play or not, probably some people will throw you some money in the hope you might go away and stop playing.”

— Gerard Dollard, Clare County Council


Hi all,
Prepare to be annoyed. Last week I picked up "Music on the edge: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher and the commodification of a musical landscape", a 2013 paper by Adam Kaul that describes the most exploitative conditions of any licensing regime I've heard of.
First a little background.

The resplendent, moss-covered rock faces of the Cliffs of Moher, located in County Clare in the West of Ireland, are one of the country's most recognisable tourist attractions. 1.6 million people visited in 2019, but the cliffs have been drawing tourists for centuries, and buskers have been there for generations.

About two decades ago, the local council set up a subsidiary corporation called "The Cliffs of Moher Centre, Ltd" (CMC), which was promptly given a contract by the council to manage the land and build a new visitor centre. In a way, the council was awarding itself the right to treat the land like private property.

[pic 2] Image courtesy of cliffsofmoher.ie, under the title "Failte Ireland’s Service Excellence Programme’s Business Award 2020"
In 2004 CMC began handing out "trespass notices" to the street performers, essentially arguing that the land was now private property (keep that in mind as it will be important later).

When news broke of their actions, CMC representatives tried to discredit the buskers, saying they were of a low standard and needed to be vetted. The press took them at their word. So, when a 2007 court order put an end to all unlicensed busking, article headlines included "Tuneless buskers banned from Cliffs of Moher" (Irish Examiner) and “Busk Off If You’re Rubbish” (The Sun).

[pic 3] The map produced by the Cliffs of Moher Experience displaying five of the six busking pitches on offer

Then CMC installed ethically indefensible regulations. Today, musicians have to apply for a licence and buy a €20 "local pass". Only traditional Irish music is allowed—CMC is obsessed with its own idea of 'authenticity'—and shows can only take place at specific times on designated pitches.

Not content with controlling what the musicians can do, CMC also have a say in what they can eat. Musicians aren't allowed to bring a packed lunch, as they can only consume food and drink purchased on site.


[pic 4 and 5] Musicians displaying signs asking people to walk hundreds of metres to buy their CDs

The most bizarre rule of all—one that I've not seen anywhere else in the world—is that the musicians can only sell CDs by entering into an arrangement with one of the visitor centre's various stores, which then charge a 'handling fee'.

In order to make sales, then, the musicians have to display signs telling people to buy CDs inside. Depending on which pitch the musician is performing on, their audience might have to walk over five hundred metres away to actually make a purchase. Obviously, this has all-but-ruined CD sales.

CMC also prevents musicians from accepting cashless payments for an incredibly arbitrary reason, claiming that QR code signs or digital payment terminals would "take from the authentic experience that the public receive when they visit the Cliffs of Moher".

That is, of course, transparently bullshit reasoning. CMC is absolutely fine (as shown in the photos above) with their licensees displaying large metal A-frame signs covered in digitally-printed artwork telling passersby to purchase CDs in nearby shops, where, of course, cards are accepted.

Signs aren't the problem, and nor are cashless payments. So what is? My guess is that CMC believes the most 'authentic experience' they can give tourists is one where musicians are destitute.

[pic 6] An "authentic experience", according to CMC.

CMC also banned amplification, saying that it is prohibited because of the Wildlife Act of 1976. According to them, music interferes with the puffins that nest on the cliffs during the summer. But as Adam Kaul wrote in his paper:
Given the overwhelming sounds of howling winds and pounding surf, not to mention the noise and activity generated from hundreds or thousands of tourists per day, this claim seems rather far-fetched.
CMC has never tried to measure the noise levels of their musicians as heard over the edge and down the cliff. But even if their argument was sound, puffins are only on the cliffs from late May to July. They've never even tried to make the case that an amp ban is necessary during the other nine months of the year.

Also, under such strict controls, CMC could easily police sound levels from musicians using amplification, which would protect local bird life and enable the artists to create a more enjoyable experience for tourists during the summer months—vital at a location whose weather is so harsh. As Adam writes:
All of the buskers at the Cliffs who I interviewed talked at length about the difficulty of playing outdoors in a landscape with strong winds, and salty sea air that quickly corrodes their instruments. Some musicians have had instruments custom-made for rigorous outdoor environments. Others have had to regularly buy new ones. Even in sunny weather in Ireland, the temperatures are often frigid.

[pic 7] Image courtesy of cliffsofmoher.ie, under the title "Our team named us a Great Place to Work in 2022!"

Let's sum up. CMC is a private limited company that runs the land on top of the cliffs. They treat that land like private property (remember the trespass notices above), demanding that musicians purchase licences in order to perform up there. They then determine everything about those shows, including:
Who (licensed musicians)
When (schedule/curfews)
Where (demarcated pitches)
What (traditional Irish music)
How (without amplification)
We can add 'why' as well, as licensees are forced to perform a minimum number of times or they'll have their licence revoked.

This private limited company profits off of the musicians in at least four ways: forcing them to buy the local pass, forcing them to buy food and drink on-site, taking a cut of CD sales, and the simple fact that these shows are great for business. The musicians are frequently quoted in five-star reviews on Trip Advisor and Google Maps as one of the Cliffs' most entertaining qualities.

This is, as Adam Kaul put it, "the commodification of a musical landscape". But I'd go one step further: by any reasonable interpretation of the situation here, in order to benefit their own corporate interests, a private company is booking musicians to perform curated, regulated and monitored shows on private property. You can't call these "street performances" by "buskers" (which is why I haven't used those words above). These are unpaid gigs.

In my opinion, that goes against not just basic ethics but also any laws that exist in Ireland preventing slave labour.
I'm fascinated by this topic because you could make the case that the exploitation of buskers for profit is a basic problem with all busking licences, especially those situated in commercial districts/downtown, and inarguably those on land governed by Business Improvement Districts.

Is that ever okay without paying the performers?

Anyway, if you've heard of a worse busking licence, please let me know, especially if it has a weird or particularly brutal rule.

Thanks,

Nick


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 11 Jun 24 - 04:38 AM

First, the land has always been private property. It was originally owned by some farmers, then Clare County Council acquired it to prevent it from being purchased by German investors. Just because land is owned by a public body does not mean that the public automatically has a right of access. Land owned by public bodies is still private land.

Second, it is common practice for public bodies to set up limited companies for commercial operations. The company has more commercial latitude than a public body, and this also provides a degree of protection for taxpayers against commercial losses.

This is a hugely popular visitor destination, and like many similar destinations these visitors need to be managed and their needs accommodated. In many ways I find this regrettable, but it is an unfortunate reality, and most visitors now expect it. The upside is that visitors tend to flock to the promoted honeypots and other less well-known places can be enjoyed in relative peace and isolation.

I am ambivalent about busking. It can be fun to do, and sometimes profitable, and a good busker can unexpectedly brighten one's day. However when buskers congregate and compete with one another the result is cacophony, especially when they use amplification.

Busking is also an imposition on the audience. I can choose to go to a concert, but if a busker is occupying a place I want to be then I cannot avoid them. In the street I can soon walk past (although sometimes only as far as the next busker) but at a visitor attraction I have no choice. At a natural beauty spot I want to appreciate nature and the view, I don't want or need to have music inflicted on me, no matter how well played.

From a visitor's point of view, I think the council is doing the right thing. I would go further and ban all buskers from such locations, but the council seems to have recognised that there is a long tradition here, and presumably some of the visitors like it.


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: Mo the caller
Date: 11 Jun 24 - 04:59 AM

I wonder what the situation is in Miltown Malbay now.
We went to the Willie Clancy Summer School in 1993. Marvellous traditional music in the pubs.
Returned in 2008 and things had become a lot more commercialised. As well as huge burger vans in the street there were buskers - 2 little girls in embroidered dresses and ringlets playing while their mother collected cash. Yes they played well, but I felt uncomfortable with it.


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 11 Jun 24 - 05:47 AM

The children busking with the helicopter mother's hovering about during the Willie week is a contemination that spread from the fleadhanna. I don't particularly like it, you reach the stage where you want to scream when you hear another wooden version of the breeches full of stitches or the bog down in the valley. Occasionally though, there's one or a bunch that radiate music and brighten the day.

As the Cliffs go, I have busked there in the distant past and good money was to be made. At some point it became madly overcrowded and some form of regulation was necessary.


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: mayomick
Date: 11 Jun 24 - 06:09 AM

The Cliffs of Moher were always there; they are now a hugely popular visitor - ie tourist- destination because of the clever way they have been marketed . Joni Mitchell had a song about it


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 11 Jun 24 - 06:58 AM

I suspect that most people visit the Cliffs of Moher to see the cliffs and not have to pick their way through superfluous add-ons such as buskers. It was pretty awful when I visited - a dog sitting on a donkey and smoking a pipe from what I recall - and that was 30 odd years ago! I've never been back.


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 11 Jun 24 - 07:04 AM

That song often comes to mind a few miles north where are Doolin pier a large area of lovely limestone pavement looking out at the Cliffs was pulled up, ground up and sold off, the area tarmacced over to accommodate over priced tourist parking space. Ofcourse, predictably,   the whole parking area gets destroyed each year by winter storms.


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Jun 24 - 07:38 AM

Now I want to see the pipe smoking dog sitting on a donkey......


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 11 Jun 24 - 07:59 AM

Dinny McMahon is long gone and later whistle regular 'Timber' Tony as well.

You can still see man and donkey here


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: Hrothgar
Date: 11 Jun 24 - 04:01 PM

My wife and I were going to visit the cliffs of Moher a few days ago, but we were so put off by the commercialism of the place we drove away (We had cheerfully paid to see the Giant's Causeway a couple of days earlier).

We went to see the cliffs of Kerry later (and had to pay a fee), and enjoyed the experience immensely.

The only thing that intrigues me is how the musicians can compete with that bloody wind.


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 11 Jun 24 - 05:00 PM

'The commercialism of the place'

The only thing that puts me off is the price of the parking at the visitors centre. And the sheer number of people around the visitors centre.

It's easy to avoid all that though. I walk the Cliff path regularly and that's fine, most visitors don't get much further than a mile, two at best, from the centre.


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 11 Jun 24 - 05:23 PM

Ah! The Giant’s Causeway con. You can use the public footpath for free.


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 11 Jun 24 - 05:42 PM

There in the middle of "mad cow".

IMHO - the only time to visit is in a pandemic.

It did not seem bad. The wind and rain were so fierce, we were engulfed by vagrants and peddlers fleeing the scene.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

One of my best ten photos of all time captured that day ... beautiful woman with long, wind tossed hair.


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Jun 24 - 07:36 PM

What Joni Mitchell song mentions the Cliffs of Moher? Google failed me.


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 12 Jun 24 - 02:29 AM

Has this thread reached the point where people go somewhere as tourists and then complain other people do the same and get facilities that are for tourists? It looks that way.

I have seen an upsurge of people on the Internet going somewhere, as tourists, asking for sessions that are non touristy. Withouta hint of irony or self awareness too.


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 12 Jun 24 - 03:24 AM

I'd guess that the Joni reference is to paving paradise and putting up a parking lot


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: mayomick
Date: 13 Jun 24 - 07:33 AM

yes Dave that's the one You can access the cliffs via the visitor center for which they charge 10 euro per adult to enter.


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 13 Jun 24 - 09:21 AM

Do they though? As I said, I walk there regularly and in over a hundred visits I have never had to pay for access. I do give into the visitors centre 'to use the facilities' but have given up on using the restaurant there for a quick coffee (overpriced) and have not entered the exhibition area in the centre. In fairness, I do only pass through the area around the centre and avoid it as much as possible and haven't used the official entry to the area (and the overpriced parking area across the road) for years.


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 13 Jun 24 - 09:40 AM

Oops, I looked up the Moher website and they do charge entry to the area around the centre. Never noticed that before.


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 13 Jun 24 - 05:14 PM

First visited there in the late 1960s when there was no visitor centre, no restrictions: all at your own risk.
Then there was the film "Ryan's Daughter" (1970) which no doubt increased the footfall enormously.

Back just a few years ago, and yes, visitor centre, and pay to visit: didn't see any buskers though. Missed my opportunity, maybe?

Sad that a young woman lost her life there just a few weeks ago - fell while taking the obligatory selfie. Not the first by far - 66 deaths there recorded between 1993 and 2017, many of whom were tourists.


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 14 Jun 24 - 01:51 AM

The young woman who fell recently was reported locally as stepping aside to let a group of walkers pass when she slipped and fell near Hag's head. No selfie involved. She tragically manage to hold on to a ledge for twenty minutes, waiting for help. Help did6arrive in time and she eventually let go.

I saw the article you refer to, mentioning the 66 deaths. I wonder about the accuracy. Suicides appear deliberately under reported.
People used to leave little memorials for loved ones who went over the edge, these days these are removed from along the path. Only at the stretch south of Hag's head a good few remaining, at least a dozen last time I walked there, but none along the official cliff path. Except for one memorial for a number of absailets who were killed by a rock fall. There also is a general memorial for 'those who list their lives at the cliffs' near one of the viewing points south of the visitor centre.

Fwiw, I live under the route of the coast guard search and rescue helicopter flying from Shannon to the Cliffs. Let's say it goes there very regularly, especially certain times of the year.


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 14 Jun 24 - 02:43 AM

I repost without som ofe the typos. Sorry about that.

The young woman who fell recently was reported locally as stepping aside to let a group of walkers pass when she slipped and fell near Hag's head. No selfie involved. She tragically manage to hold on to a ledge for twenty minutes, waiting for help. Help didn't arrive in time and she eventually let go.

I saw the article you refer to, mentioning the 66 deaths. I wonder about the accuracy. Suicides appear deliberately under reported.
People used to leave little memorials for loved ones who went over the edge, these days these are removed from along the path. Only at the stretch south of Hag's head a good few remain, at least a dozen last time I walked there, but none along the official cliff path. Except for one memorial for a number of absailers who were killed by a rock fall. There also is a general memorial for 'those who lost their lives at the cliffs' near one of the viewing points south of the visitor centre.

Fwiw, I live under the route of the coast guard search and rescue helicopter flying from Shannon to the Cliffs. Let's say it goes there very regularly, especially certain times of the year.


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 14 Jun 24 - 02:53 AM

On the other hand, some of the landowners are doing good business making spots available for Clifftop weddings. From the few occasions I have seen people do not always realise what a windswept place it is when organising an instagrammable ceremony.


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: mayomick
Date: 14 Jun 24 - 11:25 AM

I never heard of clifftop weddings before -are they supposed to be symbolic of the sort of "authentic experiences"that lay ahead ?


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 14 Jun 24 - 11:56 AM

They are all the rage. Years ago I took a bunch of exchange students from my son's TY to Hag's head, one of the girls from his class (a Canadian) looked around and shouted 'I'll get married here'.

Some twenty years ago I received an email from an Ametican woman who wanted an uilleann piper to play at the foot of O'Brien's tower at the top of the Cliffs for their wedding. I am not really up for that sort of thing and I told them playing the uilleann pipes, and a flat set to boot, was a bit of a fool's errant in mid October (as was their plan). I thought of them on the night, it was force eight and horizontal rain.

Anyhow, landowners, celebrants and harpers are doing a roaring trade. I have seen several weddings in progress on my walks, hats flying and shivering bridesmaids and all.

Google Moher weddings, there's a bunch of websites catering for that sort of thing.


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 14 Jun 24 - 01:15 PM

Apologies for any misrepresentation, Peter: based on a report I read here. I’d rather believe you as you are in a much better position to comment.
Difficult to know what proportion of deaths have been suicides, and how many were purely accidental: either way they are tragic.


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 14 Jun 24 - 02:07 PM

I don't think you misrepresented anything, the mist recent death was only reported in detail in local media.

I read the article in the Journal of Travel medicine. I don't know what exactly they looked at or if all deaths do go through the Coroner's office. But, for example, they claim at the end of the discussion of their data that there were no deaths reported from 1993-2001. I know of one example from 2000 when a team of absailers, doing a charity abseil, got caught in a rockfall. Two died and at least one was severely wounded. It was a dramatic event that was widely reported. I remember the day, the helicopters going to and fro, the news on the radio. It left a clear impression.

There was also a period, late nineties probably, the local media reported the ranges did daily sweeps of the carparks for abandoned cars, it was so bad at the time.

There are a lot of accidents, you see people do very silly and risky things all the time.

I have impression suicides are kept low profile, if only to not spread the notion this is the spot to do it.

The memorials left by people can be heart-rending and moving. I remember one instance south of Hag's head where I spotted a little solar powered light among the grass and flowers a closer look revealed a small stone angel secured in the soil next to it, half coveted in wild thyme. It was subtle and ever so sad.

Another time a bunch of flowers was left against the flagstones near the edge, a lovely spot looking north to O'Brien's Tower, the Aran Islands to the left and the Connemara mountains further back. I sat there for a bit (my wife, her sister and our son were falling behind a bit so I waited) and thought about how someone had picked that spot for the lovely view, a last look at the world before going over the edge. Then a German girl dropped and asked me why there were flowers. 'Someone jumped'I told her. She looked at the edge, pulled out her phone and took a photo of the flowers and walked on.


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Subject: RE: Busking at the Cliffs of Moher
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 15 Jun 24 - 04:47 PM

Ok. Apologies for this, but I read the thread title.
My filk-inspired brain is now looking for a Lord Of The Rings filk "Busking at the Cliffs of Mordor"

Give me time. Worldcon (the world science fiction convention) is in Glasgow this year.


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