DJ Frankie Beats (Frankie Shanley) is from Boyle, Co Roscommon. He lived in the Algarve for two years before moving to Corfu.
When did you leave Ireland and why?
I left Ireland at the start of 2017. It was an easier decision than I thought. I couldn’t find a job on any Irish radio station and my demos weren’t even heard, so I started to focus on opportunities abroad. After years of hard work creating my own digital station 1MUSIC.ie, I won two radio awards and then was offered the dream job on KissFM Portugal.
Have you studied and / or worked in Ireland?
I grew up in a beautiful little town north of Roscommon called Boyle. It’s a nice little place next to Lough Key. Pirate radio was my thing back then and I even had comedian and actor Chris O’Dowd joining me on air a few times when we were young. Even though this show was broadcast to about three people, we felt like superstars.
How was it in Portugal?
I love my life in Portugal. The people are amazing and so is the lifestyle. Thanks to KissFM I am now well known there so I am always in demand in clubs and bars and I have more friends there than I have ever had in Ireland
When did you move to Greece and why Corfu?
I moved to Corfu on July 1st of this year. It is my spiritual home. Getting here was very stressful due to Covid-19. I had to go through the army checkpoints when I arrived in Vienna and then through the police. Passport control was next, followed by a long walk down a corridor of thermal cameras.
I have been coming here for a few months every year since 2017 for quite some time. Throughout my life, I have struggled with depression, which people will find strange for someone who is always happy and bubbly in the public eye. Off mic I am a very shy person and prefer my own business which again people may find strange.
For some reason, Greece has always made everything feel better. The lifestyle is very relaxed, the people are so calm and welcome you as one of their own. Of course you can’t forget the cats, they are an important part of the island and are everywhere, I find their presence so relaxing.
What are you doing in Corfu?
I do my radio show from here and have also recorded breakout music specials for KissFM Portugal as well as a new dance anthem show for KissFM Australia, which will begin airing soon. I’m also a DJ seven nights a week at a club that’s on the beach here in Sidari, so I’m busy.
How to make people dance in the midst of a pandemic?
It’s very hard, the whole dynamic of being a DJ has changed. It used to be very easy to get people dancing because they were on vacation and were already in a good mood. People are now arriving after being tested for the coronavirus at the airport, which is slightly intimidating.
So far I have not met any Irish in Corfu. In fact Irish bars aren’t even open this year
They are only there for a week and, naturally, eagerly awaiting the return of results. So now I’m doing my thing as usual and if there are four people there on a transition flight day, I’ll play like I’m performing in front of 400 people. People say it gives them a bit of normalcy and eventually they dance. In saying this, there were nights when everything was empty.
How is Corfu at the moment?
Corfu is very strange at the moment. People are here, but not many and there are only 20 percent of the tourists that there would normally be. We only have one hospital and one airport in Corfu so it’s always on people’s minds what if the island is locked and they are stranded. And when you see so many places not opening, you know it’s out of absolute fear or because they have an elderly person living with them and they don’t want to take the risk.
Where do tourists come from in Corfu?
So far, they are English, Hungarians and Romanians. It’s not the usual melting pot for nationalities and so far I haven’t met any Irish people on the whole island, in fact Irish bars aren’t even open this year. It’s up to the people who follow the advice of the Irish government, so kudos to them at home.
For now it’s sun, sand and masks!
How did you find it in Ireland, Portugal and Greece?
I now live between Greece and the Algarve in Portugal. One thing I noticed is that in Portugal and Greece people are very relaxed even though they don’t have a lot of money. When I joined KissFM Portugal in 2017, I regularly suffered abuse from trolls in Ireland and in fact quit my weekday afternoon dream show due to the level of abuse that I suffered. It took me months to decide they weren’t going to win and I started coming back to KissFM with a fresh attitude and thicker skin. Unfortunately, I have met a lot of Irish people abroad working in the music and entertainment industry who have also had to leave Ireland to be successful.
Will you stay in Greece?
I will stay in Greece until October then I will return to Portugal. Sometimes I have to stop and pinch myself. I think about my life and I go wow! I lived in the Algarve in Portugal from October to July then on a Greek island from July to October. I work for one of the coolest radio stations with people who made me one of them and did live radio shows from amazing places. Not bad for a guy from Roscommon.
Is there something missing about Ireland right now?
I miss people. Despite all our faults, we are a great nation. Ireland has almost changed to the point of being unrecognizable in recent years, but the Irish spirit is still there. I miss my family in Roscommon. During the coronavirus, the world achieved what is most important in life. I’m single now, so being so far away from people I know is very difficult during a pandemic. There is optimism to come, however, which no one would have thought in March. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll go back to Ireland, but right now it’s sun, sand and masks!
If you live abroad and would like to share your experience on how Covid-19 affects you there, email Irish Times Abroad at [email protected]