Tom Walsh Hear It – Tom is a beloved character in Limerick City and County
Tom Walsh celebrates 40 years of his sound and lighting business ‘Hear It’
Tom Walsh from Knocklong, Co. Limerick, is celebrating a whopping 40 years in the sound and lighting business this year. Having started out as a DJ in 1980, performing for two years at events of all sizes, Tom noticed a gap in the market for sound hire. When DJing at an event one night, Tom was offered sound equipment that he could use for hire, and he saw an opening for an extension in his business, so he went on to found Hear It – a family-run business that provides sound, lighting, visuals, backdrops, and both indoor and outdoor staging for all types of events, of all sizes.
Throughout the past 40 years, Tom has been involved in providing the sound and lighting for an impressive number of events, varying in size and genre. Their track record includes the 2006 and 2008 Heineken Cup big-screen gatherings, as well as the team homecoming for the Munster rugby team on O’Connell Street, and Muhammad Ali’s 2009 homecoming to his ancestral town of Ennis at Dromoland Castle, Co. Clare. Tom also controlled the sound for Sharon Shannon who performed on Main Street in Ennis at Ali’s homecoming, as well as the sound for the council chamber ceremony that was relayed to the stage at Abbey Street Carpark. Tom has offered many of his services to charities, community groups, and nonprofit organisations during his career, including the Dónal Walsh Live Life Foundation, Cliona’s Foundation, Milford Hospice, Cancer Research. and Limerick LGBT Pride, as he epitomises the giving, inclusive spirit of Limerick. Tom is beloved in Limerick and after 40 years of hard work and memories, Tom and his team including his daughter Eilis are looking forward to many more.
We spoke to Tom about the last 40 years of Hear It, the stand-out memories, and his favourite aspects of his job.
Tell us a bit about your background and starting out as a DJ, how did this lead into your career now?
Well, I grew up in Knocklong, Co. Limerick as part of a business family. We had a bakery and a shop. I can’t bake, but I am good with people and technical, which led me towards sales.
In 1980 I started out on the mobile scene DJing. It started out as a hobby as I didn’t drink and I still don’t, I was looking for something to fill the evenings.
I grew it by answering a question, ‘Can you do….?’ and saying yes, then finding out how to do it. There was no college course in this line when I started. I then added the facilities that are required and now supply Sound, Lighting, Projectors and screens, TV’s, Drapes, and staging.
Where did your love of music, performances, and sound come from?
I’m not sure where my love of music and performance comes from, but I’ve always been a bit of a ‘techie’. As the calls evolved into different areas, I learned and went with them.
How did you go about setting up your business Hear It and why?
Well, at first it was a hobby but it was getting busier and when trying to do both a day job and night-time hobby, I realised that my passion was in the hobby, so I went into it full-time and haven’t looked back. It’s hard work at times, but like the saying goes ‘if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life’ and I do love what I do.
What roles do your family members play in the business?
When you are self-employed, everyone in the family chips in. Last year my daughter Eilís started full time with me, which is great as she understands my passion and can tell me to stop talking and do a bit of work.
What are some of your favourite events that you’ve provided the sound and lighting for over the years?
Some great Limerick events have great memories, like Limerick Pride, the Heineken cup ’06 and ’08, and many high-end functions in Adare Manor, Dromoland, and Kilshane house. Around the country, we have provided sound and lighting for RTE programmes for outside broadcasts such as Against The Head and The Sunday Game.
Why is it so important to you to help out with charity and community events also?
Because nobody is an island and it is the right thing to do. We help where we can.
What are your favourite memories of your career so far?
If I started there would be pages. Mainly the great people and characters that we meet everywhere. It’s a great life when you love meeting people.
What’s your favourite thing about your job and your business?
Variety. Even though it’s sound, lighting, AV, and staging every day, you never get the same thing two days in a row. It’s brilliant.
What have you learned over the past 40 years in this business?
Be prepared to change and go with the flow. Everything is evolving so we have to go with it.
What’s next for Hear It? Any future plans for the business, or for the rest of this year, in spite of Covid-19?
Well firstly to get back to work. I’ve had enough time off to last a lifetime, but we are here and ready and willing to go when the calls start to come in.
Richard and the team at I Love Limerick want to offer a huge congratulations to Tom and the whole Hear It team on 40 years of top-class work. Long may it continue!
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