Interview with Paul Brady, Singer/Songwriter on travel and rail travel

My name is Paul Brady. I’m a singer, a songwriter and a producer, and I’ve worked in music pretty much all my life, since my last year in college, and I’ve been fortunate to have a career of nearly 45 years now.

Up until I was about 16 or 17 I suppose I wasn’t really far from home at all. I was brought up in County Tyrone on the border, in a town called Strabane on the river, and then Lifford is on the other side, so I was familiar with both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland culture; I had a kind of dual-culture growing up. We spent most of summers in Bundoran in Donegal. But when I came to Dublin to go to college in the mid-sixties, I quickly started to play music and by the end of ’67 I was a professional musician and moved to London shortly after that, and travelled all around Europe, Britain and Ireland and America. So I’ve really been kind of travelling ever since I became a professional musician, and have pretty much been every where in the world, except South America, which is where I would really like to go, definitely next on the list!

I mostly travel by air, or by train. A few journeys stick out in my mind; I travelled on the overnight train from Moscow to St Petersburg with a friend of mine, who was Irish Ambassador to Russia at the time, a former schoolmate of mine, and that was a kind of special old train, and we slept on board, so that was interesting. Train travel I think is great, it’s comfortable and enjoyable; in Norway we crossed the central mountain range, from Oslo up to Bergin on a fantastic railway, so that was great.

I’ve travelled lots of places for pleasure too. One of my main interests in Scuba Diving, so I’ve been to the Red Sea many times and to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, to Hawaii and the Caribbean several times.

My travel plans have to be planned very meticulously. I don’t work in big block periods, I work in random things all the time, so you have to fit holidays in between. The perfect example is, about a month ago now I guess, I was playing in Dubai, and as part of the deal, they gave us a holiday for a week, for myself and my wife, so I spent a week in Dubai and then I had to come back for a couple of weeks and then a friend of mine has a place in France so I went there for a week, so I had to put all the stuff in between. It’s not hard to do; it’s worth it in the end!

I have had my fair share of travel mishaps. I’ve lost instruments and stuff, things didn’t turn up and things got broken. I remember once, one of my really good guitars was really smashed when it arrived at the airport. I mean you’re sitting onboard a plane and sometime you see you’re instruments sailing through the air, but there’s nothing you can do!

If you’re on a dedicated tour, there’s not a lot of time, or indeed energy for sightseeing. I find on a tour where I’m playing three or four nights a row, and I’m travelling every single day, I really just don’t have much of an interest in seeing stuff because I’m just so wrecked. I want to just rest during the day and not talk very much because I don’t want to strain my voice, I tend to take it easy when I’m touring.

I’ve lived in America and in England in the past. I lived around the East coast of America, from Boston down to New York City during the 70’s. But I’ve lived in Ireland since the late 70s. There are lots of beautiful things in Ireland, and I’d see why it’s such a popular destination for tourists, but I think things are just too expensive here in comparison to other places. Like I travel a lot but still things, uniform almost twice as much as they cost everywhere else, and I just don ’t get that, so that annoys me frankly.

Often if I go away to far-flung places like Australia or America I will try and work in some leisure time as part of the trip. One of the most interesting trips was in Australia. I’ve got friends who live there, and we went right into the centre, and of course we spent some time at Uluru, which is what the Aborigines call Ayers Rock, and then we went into the desert, into the West Australian desert, and spent a few nights in there, places where you have to get an actual permit to go there, because it’s Aboriginal land, so that was very exciting. That was probably the most memorable trip I’ve ever had, it was pretty amazing, I really enjoyed it.

My advice to anyone going on a trip is to bring earplugs. I never leave home without them, haha! The one thing I truly hate most about travelling is the noise pollution everywhere you go. The minute I walk into an airport I just stick the earplugs in and I just zone out, the constant yapping is just so annoying! But I suppose most importantly I’d say to travel as much and see as much of the world as you possibly can.

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