Irishman in London: ‘It is nice to see someone with a hurl in Finsbury Park’

The Tipperary man dealing with a ‘devastated’ music industry in London

Fionan Ryan is originally from Garrykennedy, Co Tipperary, but now lives in Finsbury Park, London. He is a digital marketing manager for London-based music industry mobile gaming start-up gotickety

When did you leave Ireland and why?
I left in 2014 to pursue a career in the music industry in London.

Did you study in Ireland? Where?
Yes, at Limerick Institute of Technology and the Fitzwilliam Institute, Dublin.

Did you study anywhere else?
Yes, at the University of Westminster, London.


Tell us about your work there? What do you do?
In the past six years, I've had some amazing experiences working in London - from selling out two London headline shows for Meath indie rockers Ham Sandwich in 2015 to promoting Dermot Kennedy's debut London show in 2016, as well as working at the global entertainment company Live Nation. Through gotickety, where I work now, I have planned, launched and managed digital marketing campaigns for Kaiser Chiefs, Katherine Jenkins, Sigala, Aurora, JLS, The Vaccines, LeAnn Rimes, Billy Lockett and others.

Describe your day now? Do you work from home?
Usually I'm up quite early. What used to be a 20-minute walk to the gym is now a five-minute walk to the park for a workout. I've been working remotely for most of my careers so my routine has not changed much since the Covid-19 pandemic. I am on the laptop from 9am, lunch is at 1pm and I finish at 5pm. My covid workday routine is probably similar to most people's right now with lots of emails, Slack, Google Hangouts and so on. Joining a new company during a pandemic is quite odd as I haven't met any of my colleagues face to face yet.

How has the music industry been affected by the pandemic?
In a word, it has been devastating. It is hard to quantify what it has cost, certainly in the live music industry. I've seen so many friends and ex-colleagues posting about being put on furlough or losing their jobs. That is in addition to the constant threat of venue closures. Independent live agencies and promoters are the worst hit over here, it is hard to imagine the industry going back to normal in the next year.

Are you planning for concerts to go ahead anytime?
From what I've heard from promoters and seen announced, March to April 2021 seems to be when promoters are banking on the live industry being back to any sort of normality, but in my opinion, it will all depend on whether there is a second wave coming in the winter months.

What is the current situation changing in the music and digital marketing businesses?
From gotickety's perspective, we have had to change from giving concert tickets as prizes to giving fans Zoom calls and video messages from people's favourite artists as prizes. I have also seen the same happen for album release marketing. Scottish rock band Biffy Clyro did a Zoom call with fans on their current album cycle. Lots of music video shoots are coming from artist's homes and there is a delay in album release dates in order to covid-proof campaigns.

I am not that comfortable sitting inside a pub just yet

What is it like living in London now? How has the Covid-19 pandemic changed things there?
It is somewhat of a new normal. In the beginning it was scary how slow the British government imposed lockdown or social distancing. My girlfriend, who is Slovak, and I were taking cues from our own countries more so than the UK. As of right now, things such as eating out, going to the pub, gym or using public transport are possible, but I would say done sparsely.

Do you go to bars or restaurants?
In the last month yes, but maybe only once a week. The government's 'Eat Out To Help Out' scheme worked out really well over here. I've been in one or two beer gardens, but I am not that comfortable sitting inside a pub just yet.

Does being Irish count there at the moment?
In regard to Brexit, being Irish is very important as we are exempt from any visa or leave to remain issues that may come up for other Europeans in the next couple of years here. I also think you also have to respect the fact as an Irish person living in London, that there have been Irish communities here for many years. It is nice to walk down the street and hear an Irish accent every once in a while or see someone with a hurl in their hand walking through Finsbury Park.

Is there anything you miss about Ireland?
Friends and family of course. Trying to meet up with people in London can be tricky depending on where you live, so being from the countryside in Ireland, I miss driving past a mate's house and calling in for a chat. Irish humour is something I do miss, I love listening to The Two Jonnies podcast, it might be a bit of cliché, but it keeps me connected to home.

If you live abroad and would like to share your experience of your work, life and how Covid-19 is affecting you there, email Irish Times Abroad at