First encounters


In conversation with UNA MULLALLY


Niall ‘Bressie’ Breslin is a musician and was the winning coach on RTÉ’s The Voice of Ireland

‘MACKER USED to run a bar in Mullingar called Danny Byrnes. There was a disused nightclub upstairs where he let The Blizzards [Bressie’s former band] rehearse. He couldn’t have done more for us, bringing up drinks and food and all that. When you’re starting out as a band you don’t have money to pay for a rehearsal space or buy anything and, at the time, there were no rehearsal spaces in Mullingar. We were there for five years.

“Macker’s main job is to go into bars and turn them around, give them character and a bit of personality.

“He doesn’t suffer fools. He’s an odd character in the nicest way. I’m a bit odd too, I suppose, so it works. It’s hard to describe why he’s odd. He’s one of those guys who’ll just disappear for a couple of months, Into The Wild style. He’ll come back and I’ll be like, ‘Macker, where the f*** were you?’ And he’ll just say he got fed up. I’m like that as well. At least he doesn’t stick around and pretend to be in good humour. If he feels like being a p****, he’ll just disappear for a while. Other people just stay around and be p****s.

“I suppose he came on the journey with The Blizzards in many ways. We were just demo-ing and doing it for fun at the start, like most bands. We just wanted to have the craic and we were all good friends. As the band grew, he came to all the gigs with us and saw us progress. When you go through major parts of your life and people come with you, you do create a bond. He’s very aware of how hard we’ve worked, and vice versa. I’ve seen all the work he’s put into pubs. It’s a tough job what he does. So there’s a mutual respect there. I don’t like lazy people, they annoy me.

“I remember going to mix our second album in LA. I did the first one there as well and I was on my own. Everyone was like, ‘You’re in LA, it must be brilliant,’ but I was like ‘it’s shit. I’m on my own. I’m in a ball of sweat every day.’ The second time I went over, on the first day I rang Macker. I said, ‘Come on out for two weeks, I’ve got a free hotel.’

“And he goes ‘grand’. The next morning he was there. I told the record label we needed another two or three days there. The label was going, ‘You must be really stressed, it must be really hard work,’ but I mixed one hour a day and went on the piss with Macker for the rest of it. Him coming over like that was something we’ll talk about for years. We had so much fun.

“When I was in London nobody really knew I was getting back into it [his own music]. I started saying it to Macker, and he said part of who I am was performing live. The Blizzards, apart from anything else, had a reputation for live gigs, that’s what we did best. Macker said, ‘You can’t give it up.’

“He stuck to his guns in Cassidy’s too [on Westmoreland Street, Dublin]. I told him, do what you do, play what you want to play and if it’s good enough people will go in.

“Macker would do anything for you. He’s one of those guys. He’s unconventionally reliable and he can make very simple things sound hilarious.”


Paul ‘Macker’ McNulty runs Cassidy’s pub on Westmoreland Street in Dublin

‘FROM A YOUNG age I worked in my parents’ restaurant. My Mum and Dad are very creative, I loved the whole feeling of interacting with people coming in. I managed Danny Byrnes in Mullingar, and that’s how I met Bres. One of the lads in the pub mentioned to me a band called The Blizzards were looking for somewhere to practice.

“The boys took the nightclub upstairs to practice. They were very disciplined, in at nine in the morning until 10 at night rehearsing. We were nominated for pub of the year three years in a row while the boys started getting Oxegen gigs and all that.

“I would have seen Bres every day. We were both just starting out. We would have just had a bond together, that we really wanted to make it in the two industries that we were in. I went to LA with him when he did Domino Effect. That was 2006. I admire Bressie a lot. He’s the most disciplined guy I ever met. He’s such a down-to-earth guy.

“The second year they did Oxegen on the main stage, he rang me on the Monday and said they’d play in the pub in Mullingar for the people who couldn’t get tickets. That was the Friday night of Oxegen. Everybody there would have been friends of mine and the lads. All the local musicians got up and played. We had a few pints together after. That was an amazing night. The first year they did Oxegen was very emotional as well, just seeing your friends up on stage.

“Bressie is so committed, so when he moved to London, and was recording the first album, I didn’t hear from him much.

“I told him we were going to take over a pub in Dublin and he was worried about the location and that kind of thing. The first week we opened, he flew home. I’d say we had 10 people in the pub the first week. Then he came home to DJ and packed the place. I don’t think Danny Byrnes would have got to the level it had without Bressie there.

“When they boys started getting really big, if we’d be busy, he’d still just jump behind the bar and start serving. He would have given us unbelievable exposure when The Voice was on because he was here every Sunday. Other places around town would be begging him to be going to them and throwing money at him, but he wouldn’t take it.

“He’s actually a contradiction in terms. He’s the most driven man I’ve ever met in my life, but he’s also so loyal to his friends. It really bugs me people talking s*** about him. That kills me. He doesn’t understand how talented he is. He played football for Westmeath, he played rugby for Leinster.

“He’d only really hang around with two or three of us from Mullingar. One night we were having a few pints in the Palace Bar and there was a guy who, let’s say, wasn’t being that nice to him, saying names under his breath and that kind of thing.

“Bressie went over to him and started talking to him. By the end of the night, yer man had bought him a pint and was shaking his hand.

“That’s Bressie all over. He’s so sound.”

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