Magician to the stars, Liam Sheehan talks about Michael Jackson and Conor McGregor

Performing magic for some of the world's biggest names, Cork illusionist Liam Sheehan speaks to Liz O'Brien about his career.
Magician to the stars, Liam Sheehan talks about Michael Jackson and Conor McGregor
Cork magician Liam sheehan

I’D never met Cork magician Liam Sheehan but within a couple of minutes of sitting down for coffee with him he was able to tell me the name of the first boy I ever kissed, Brian. I was blown away.

He took out a pencil and a piece of paper and asked me to write the boy’s name in my head... the first letter, the last, and finally the letters in between.

I did what he asked; next thing I know he was holding a piece of paper in front of me with the letters BRIAN written across it. I was blown away!

Throughout our conversation he continued to impress me with magic and mind-tricks while telling me about his life, how he became an entertainer and about that time he performed for Michael Jackson.

His friend Patrick, who owns Blackwater Castle, asked to come to the castle to do a job for someone.

“I had no idea I was going to see Michael Jackson; I was just going to entertain somebody,” he said.

“I went in and then I saw this fella eating a meal with his family. I looked up and got a wave and I waved back.” 

“The owner of the castle came in and I just looked at him and said: “Patrick?” “He said: “It is.” “And I said: “you’re joking me, you are joking me!” 

Liam had been a huge fan of the pop icon for years.

“You’re not going to believe this, but when I was driving down to the castle I was playing Michael Jackson music and I had no idea I was meeting Michael Jackson. It was fantastic, it was like: “here I am face to face with this big mega star who I’m a big fan of!” 

He couldn’t, however, let his admiration overwhelm him; he had to treat the singer just as he would any other client.

Michael, his three kids and nanny had flown to Cork on a chartered Aer Lingus flight to escape the paparazzi in Paris.

“Michael was a gent, a really lovely relaxing calm and simple man - childlike, he loved fun.” 

“I only went there for an hour and I ended up living with him for a few days.” 

“He loved magic; I clicked with him as a person and he was fascinated by magicians - he had a great affection for people who could actually perform magic and fool him and he never wanted to know how a trick was done.” 

Cork magician Liam Sheehan with UFC champ Conor McGregor. Liam performed at the wedding of McGregor's sister, Aoife.
Cork magician Liam Sheehan with UFC champ Conor McGregor. Liam performed at the wedding of McGregor's sister, Aoife.

Liam grew up in Cork city, he went to Colaiste Chriost Rí but didn’t apply himself and failed his Inter Cert. He tried to become a fitter, he ran a cycle shop in Douglas and worked as a rep for a city business. His mum would always say to him: “Liam boy, what are you going to do what are you going to do when you leave school? I’d say: “I don't know, mam, I’m not sure. But I always knew I had great ability to do something.” 

“I was kind of always tipping around with magic and the mind and how the mind works the psychology and all that kind of stuff and I started to study a bit of psychology.

“I was standing on the street in Paris and I saw a guy with a piece of rope, he cut the rope with an imaginary scissors and he cut it in two halves and I thought: “Oh my God, that’s incredible, how did do he do that?” After that he tried to teach himself magic and incorporate it with mind tricks - he’d spend hours standing in front of the mirror practising.

“I was fascinated by the Frenchman Robert Houdin. He travelled the world and entertained people as a magician and a mentalist, I studied his notes from the 1800s, they were on record in Paris and I had the privilege of seeing them at one stage.” 

“Most of the magic comes from all the old style and everything you see today is modernised.” 

Liam travels the nation and the globe for work; weddings, corporate events and functions. He does a lot of work with Franc and at Ballincurra House and says business comes from word of mouth.

He’s performed for some of the world’s biggest stars including Brad Pitt, Sylvester Stallone and Irish names such as Gerry Ryan, Roy Keane and Conor McGregor.

“The best thing for me is above all meeting the people I meet, I love what I do and leaving a job where I know people are totally amazed and dumbfounded in the stuff that I do.

“It’s not the tricks, it's the way you leave people and entertain people.” 

Conor McGregor’s sister, Aoife, booked Liam for her wedding two years in advance.

“I went in to Powerscourt and the setup was incredible. I said to one woman doing the flowers on the table: “Jeez they must have a few bob have they?” “I see this guy sauntering up the hall as if he was going into a fight and he was full of life. It was Conor McGregor."

“He comes into the room and the whole room is all over him. We had great craic, they're lovely people, salt of the earth.” 

“I had great fun at that wedding. I’d be still in contact with people in the McGregor family, I left a good mark with that whole family, so something might come of that.” 

Recently Liam remembers being at an event in UCC where he completely fooled the professors he was performing for. He tried to explain a trick to them but they could not understand how he did it.

“There I am up on the podium in UCC, my mother up in heaven, probably looking down on me and me saying, “Mam, I told you it work out eventually!” 

“There I am I preaching to all the professors the president the whole lot and saying to myself, “If she could only see me now! She’d be so proud.”

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