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Horror accident reason why Paul IS THE REAL DEAL.. TG4 magician reveals how his brush with fire during a trick that went wrong became spark that ignited his career. By Maeve Quigley.

Byline: Maeve Quigley

He's television's newest magician with a show on TG4 but Paul Gleeson's magic career only began through personal tragedy.

The 26-year-old can be seen in his first series Draiocht tonight but he revealed a terrible accident was the reason he began studying the ancient art.

Paul, who is known as Rua, said: "I started out as a fire performer - I used to spin fire as a busker and for a hobby.

"I knew some guys who did it and I got into it from there.

"My parents hated it but it was just a simple thing I enjoyed doing.

"One night I was doing a private party and I had a really bad accident.

"It was a freak accident that went wrong.

"I was spinning fire and one of the moves I could do was create a big wheel of fire right in front of me.

"It would be as if you were looking at a big spinning tyre on a bike except it is fire.

"It's called poi and I had done it 100 times before so I don't really know what happened but it was spinning really fast and one of the poi caught on my T-shirt and set it alight.

Someone at the party was trying to help by throwing beer on me but as you know fire and alcohol don't really mix so that made it worse."

Paul was taken to hospital where he was treated for severe injuries.

He added: "I ended up in hospital for two weeks in St James's - my hands and chest were completely bandaged up.

"When I was in hospital I was surrounded by guys who had really severe burns - I was 7% of my body and these guys were up in the high 50s and 60s.

"And a friend of mine thought it would be a good joke to give me a book on card tricks.

"As a kid I liked guys like David Blaine on television but I had never thought I could do something like that. So I found the book very interesting and started reading it.

"I always liked the idea of spectacle and trying to impress people and when I got out of hospital I picked up a deck of cards and I haven't left them down since.

"I still have really bad scarring on my chest and it has left a bit of a mark. It's not that bad and hopefully it will improve with time. I am not in pain and I haven't been disabled because of it so I know how not in pain and I haven't been because of it so I know how lucky I am.

"It was a shame that it happened but it has led to such great things that I don't really mind."

Despite the fact that he and Keith Barry have shows on rival stations at the same time, Paul said e at th ve on ons me aid Keith has been a great support to him throughout his career.

He revealed: "Keith has always been there for me to give me advice.

"The stuff Keith does is very different to what I do. Keith has always been extremely supportive of me and when I got the green light to do the show he was actually the second person I rang to tell after my mam.

"I gave him a call to ask, "What the hell do I do now?" He has always been very lovely and gracious - he has given me direction and advice on the side.

"Keith is very hypnosis-based. In his earlier work he y yp earlier work he was doing street magic and close-up magic which is what I do now.

"But these days he's strictly mentalism. I do a good bit in my show too but not the way he does it. My show will have a lot more street magic.

"Mentalism magic, that involves the mind.

"Closeup magic is me with a deck of cards making them turn into a block of glass. It's card and coin tricks, sleight of hand."

The Dubliner said he has spent long hours praticing his craft in front of the mirror and has had no time for a girlfriend.

But in the new show he will also take part in a number of daredevil escapology tricks, inset.

Paul said: "I read a book about Houdini which gave a great insight into the man. And I fell in love with it and thought it would be something I would love to do.

"So I have been doing some of that. I was locked in the boot of a car and lowered into a car crusher but it takes a long time to learn and there is a lot of training.

"There are three big escape acts in the show - the car crusher was terrifying as something didn't happen that was meant to happen.

"It was pitch black but I was able to wrangle my way out of it. There's nothing worse than being in complete darkness and knowing something is caving in on top of you and you can't see what you are doing but you have to stay calm.

"And we also set a catapult on the edge of O'Connell Street which would fling me out of the building in 60 seconds if I couldn't get out of a straightjacket on time.

"Escapology has a way of confronting common fears and it makes it exciting and scary for people watching at home."

.Draiocht is back on TG4 on Sunday at 7.30pm.

It was a shame that it happened but it has led to such great things that I don't really mind

CAPTION(S):

REMINDER The scar on Paul's chest from his accident

FRIEND Fellow magician Keith Barry has helped Paul along the way

FOR MY NEXT TRICK Paul performing

ACE IN THE PACK Magician Paul Gleeson

BE MY GUEST Paul with model Rozanna Purcell who will be joining him later in his show
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 23, 2014
Words:1002
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