Careers in Cork: I adore my life as a magician

This week in ‘Careers in Cork’m TIMOTHY O’MAHONY talks to magician Ger Kearney, who hails from Douglas
Careers in Cork: I adore my life as a magician

Magician and actor Ger Kearney.

GER Kearney will be a familiar face to many people. You might have seen him acting in some of Ireland’s most loved films including The War of the Buttons and The Wind that Shakes the Barley, or you might have been entertained by him at a wedding over the last number of years.

Ger is a close-up magician and has been captivating audiences for a number of years in Cork and beyond.

He is a close-up magician (magic performed in close proximity using sleight of hand and mind-reading) for hire for weddings, corporate events and private parties, aswell as also working as an actor.

Here he tells us about his career to-date...

The Beginning of Magic

Starting as a hobby, I’ve always loved magic. I got my first magic set while making a movie in West Cork at the age of 12. The pivotal moment was getting my first magic book at the age of 14, The Amateurs Magician’s Handbook by Henry Hay.

Magic sets were more or less silly tricks, but the books, that’s where the secrets were, and from that moment I became obsessed.

At the age of about 15, my parents brought me to see Paul Daniels in Cork Opera House. Through some contacts, I got to meet with Paul prior to his performance. We sat for hours just showing each other magic and chatting. I appeared in The Echo with Paul, his son Martin and wife Debbie.

When I asked him for some advice, his response was “Never leave your money on the dressing room table”.

I guess that was just a humorous response, or maybe from a bad experience, who knows?

Magician Ger Kearney with Westlife's Shane Filan.
Magician Ger Kearney with Westlife's Shane Filan.

A Born Entertainer

At the age of 12, I landed the part of ‘Big Con’ in a Warner bros movie, The War of the Buttons. From that moment on, I always wanted to be an actor.

I was lucky enough to have acting roles in some movies and shows produced in Ireland.

One of the stand-out memories was walking the red carpet at the Cannes Film festival in 2006 for the Premiere of The Wind that Shakes the Barley. It was surreal. It won the Palme d’Or that year, one of the most prestigious awards in film.

I tend to clear my calendar when I get an acting job. It’s not great to juggle both in the one timeline.

I feel both the acting job and magic deserve full attention, not divided attention, and I don’t multi-task very well.

I have just wrapped on a feature called SWING-BOUT which should be released next year.

Pure Magic

As a magician, I love to be fooled by magic, it’s a beautiful feeling, that feeling of wonder. But as you become more seasoned as a magician, this naturally will happen less and less. I now get my kicks from passing this on and creating wonder.

Sometimes, the look on people’s faces can be very infectious and give me that wondrous feeling.

I also get to visit so many interesting and lovely venues, from 5-star hotels and castles to quirky little venues.

I once did a gig in Cork’s Masonic Hall on Tuckey Street. A headquarters for the Free Masons, it’s a building most Corkonians pass many times but are unaware of its existence.

Ger Kearney at a drinks reception.
Ger Kearney at a drinks reception.

A day in the Life

There are two sides to my business that I work on continuously with the first being admin and management. Making sure my stock levels for performing are always in check, answering emails and looking after promotional plans.

The second is performing, which normally takes place over the weekend. I have two types of shows/gigs. Firstly, ‘the family show’- this is a stand-up performance, suitable for small gatherings of maybe up to 25 guests.

It’s a 40 minute show and suitable for all ages but it’s not a kids’ show. My rule of thumb is adults need to outnumber kids for the correct balance. This is hugely popular for communion and confirmation parties.

And then close up walk around magic. This is what I do 90% of the time. Close up, walk around magic is where I would go to a social event and perform in small groups of maybe five to ten guests for about 10 minutes at a time. Best suited to larger events, it is very popular for weddings and corporate events.

Ger Kearney doing some after dinner magic.
Ger Kearney doing some after dinner magic.

Weddings is definitely the most popular sector of my business. A traditional wedding will allow opportunities for walk around magic, such as the drinks reception. Magic is perfect for this, as it will also act as a nice ice-breaker and get the guests into a more social vibe.

Then I do after-dinner magic. After the meal and speeches, there is a natural lull while the venue changes the room around for dancing, this is normally the time the band will set up also. This is a perfect time for magic as the guests are normally just sitting around waiting for the next phase. I have a captive audience, and I perform at each table for up to 10 minutes. My natural ending here is the traditional first dance. Both options are up to two hours long.

When I’m performing, I normally just focus on that for the day. 

Even though the gig might be for 90 minutes. I may have a couple or more to perform in one day. I normally work in a social setting, weddings or parties so I would meet lots of people in a short period. It’s always pleasant as people are socialising and in a great mood before I get to them.

Ger Kearney doing some after dinner magic.
Ger Kearney doing some after dinner magic.

The Latest Challenge

Tech and upskilling in this space. I like to do as much as possible myself but tech is where I’m slowest.

I love to play pool to unwind. I’m very close to my brothers. Every week my brothers and a few friends gather for pool night. We have a few drinks, watch a match on the TV if there is one and play for hours. That’s far from unwinding at times though, we are all competitive and play to win. I mostly unwind watching a movie with a glass of wine with my wife.

Shout Outs

My colleagues are other wedding suppliers, people we meet most on the same jobs. Barry and Sheenagh Keating, Gordon Falvey, Ian Hendricks and many, many more. A special mention to my wonderful family! My wife Kate, sons Adam and Cian and daughter Cara.

Plans for the Future

I love the field I’m working in. I would love to just be performing in this space for as long as possible. I have a lot of other projects ongoing.

I design magic illusions for other professional magicians and I’m stepping outside my comfort zone a lot lately.

This April, I’m giving my first lecture to a group of magicians. This may be a new string to my bow in the coming years - travelling around the world and giving talks to other professionals.

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