A Saturday morning in Limerick conjures up many images for most. Meeting friends in The Milk Market, stopping for a bun in Bean a Ti, picking up the latest read in O’Mahony’s, with an accompanying soundtrack of the hustle and bustle of weekend city life. Yet, there is one sight and sound so constant in our Saturday Limerick rituals that it is often overlooked. Be it walking through Bedford Row or strolling up Cruises Street, the distinctive timbre of panpipes accompanying a taped backing track of ‘My heart will go on’ and other classics, is a staple with Saturday city-goers.
As I sat and waited for an opportunity to meet the man behind this distinctive sound, I reflected on the numerous occasions I have walked passed, barely glancing and failing to recognise the skill required in playing a wide array of panpipes and flutes. I was surprised at the number of passers-by stalling to listen to the music, taking videos and browsing through the cd’s for sale.Even more unexpected was meeting Luis Shanakan, a spirited, passionate and affable man from Ecuador, that has made Limerick his home.
On moving from Ecuador to Limerick….
I am here 17 years in Limerick. I am a dreamer like all musicians. All Limerick musicians, we are all dreamers. I never thought I would come so far away from my own country
I love Limerick. I love Limerick all the time. When I go outside to Dublin sometimes they ask ‘Why Limerick? Limerick is very dangerous!’ and I go ‘No! Limerick is a beautiful place’. I love to live here in the city
On the panpies……
I’m a guitarist originally but musicians, we learn any instrument. When you’re a musician you learn. I came here with a band. We used to be 4 but we split up. Some have gone back home or another one is now living in England.
My favourite music (aside from panpipes) is south American music. I love Irish music also. I hear the cranberries but I love all sorts of music because I am a musician you see.
On his life in Limerick
I have two beautiful daughters and they are at school. I am busy at home with them during the week.
Best thing about Limerick?
I think the people, the people from Limerick. I’ve never ever had any hassle.I get once in 17 years and that was just two days ago. I was playing around Thomond and there was a small bit of hassle, but no, that was just once in 17 years
Favourite Limerick person?
Right now I have to say the person who brought me here, Gerry Hannon. He worked in radio.
5 years time: Cruises street or Croke Park?
Id loved to be here in Limerick for a while but I would love to go back to my home town but I have two beautiful daughters here and they are in school.