Documentary Short Film Folk/Songwriter Live Acoustic Performance

Thomas McCarthy :: Liam Weldon Tribute

This month I want introduce to you to a project that has been slowly building and gathering strength since the summer of 2019, in the beforetime. I was contacted one morning by a woman named Lorraine Kennedy. Aideen and I had just spoken at length in the kitchen about purposefully leaving attitudes open to collaboration with other filmmakers and content producers. Maybe it was more like a one way conversation actually, directed at Aideen, who has learned to nod enthusiastically whenever I talk at her enthusiastically. Anyway, that morning over a coffee, she agreed with me, collaboration is a good thing. Be open to it. I’ve become like a lone wolf hunting on my own 90% of the time but every now and then I’m lucky to meet and work with a team of sounders. I adore the extra magic that creates, when you share a creative vision with someone else.

Lorraine Kennedy had a proposition. She asked did I know of the late great singer and musical anarchist of sorts, Liam Weldon. I did of course know Liam’s song which Lankum’s Radie Peat has covered with hair raising deftness for the opening of This Ain’t Know Disco EPI. Dark Horse On The Wind is an extremely immediate and powerful ballad that sounds utterly timeless, with rousing political lyrics that universally ring true today, and are almost applicable to every and any hierarchical civilisation there has ever been. It’s a cry to humanity. A song for the overlooked, hard done by and persecuted.   
Lorraine wondered would I be interested in learning more about Liam, and maybe collaborating with her and photographer Colm Keating on a film about Liam’s life? I had a lot on my plate at the time. This Ain’t No Disco was about to set off on a journey to produce a second season. 2020 was going to be busy. So I hesitated. Such a huge editing responsibility on top of all that… BUT Aideen had just that morning heard me ramble on about the hidden surprises of great collaborations. The serendipity was too obvious. The window, in my own my mind at the time anyway, was open to the idea. I met with Lorraine and Colm, and cut a long story short, after I spent one minute in their company, I was in love with them. Two absolute beauts. We spoke about Liam for hours, and by the time the meeting was over it was already very clear to me what a film about Liam Weldon would be. Nothing short of inspiring. 

Lorraine organised all the interviews, the performances and locations, and invited myself and Donal Dineen along to all of them to spy on events. Donal would have the chats with friends and family of Liam, and with people who knew a lot about the man, and I would shoot from the hip, naturally try to be as unimposing as possible. We gathered enough content to make a film about Liam, that’s for certain. There are some absolute diamonds too, from the RTE archives. Never seen before footage. Not seen since it was aired anyway. Clips of liam in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s just before he died. He was a man who shrugged the attention of the media but not when he wanted to be heard. When he had objections about the government and it’s treatment of his people, his fellow dubs, and his adopted Traveller family. This also means the cumulative running length of footage Lorraine did find, must only amount to about 10 minutes. Imagine that. 10 minutes of visual evidence of who you were to look at. Thankfully Colm Keating has hundreds of photos of Liam. The rest of the film we track and trace the waves that his particular stone made when it dropped in the clear water of his time, that still move today. Not crystal clear waves but still strong enough ripples to make out, amidst the erratic water surface caused by all the other noise, mild in comparison. Such was the strength of Liam’s personality.

We spent 6 months shooting Dark Horse On The Wind and at the end of it my heart was full to the brim, with Liam. We had spent so much time focusing on the waves he made, it felt as though he was there with us. It’s my ultimate objective that when you first enter the cinema to see our film, you will leave with Liam too. So very strong and pronounced is the energy he has left behind. It moves through us all every day without us knowing it. His dear wife, now in her eighties, Nellie Weldon, was a beautiful woman to sit and speak with. Her interview is among the most precious. AND the music. Good lord. The musicians Liam has inspired, who still literally pronounce waves that started in Liam’s mind, are outrageous!

This scene speaks for itself. Here is a moment we meet Traveller singer and song collector, Thomas MaCarthy.

Much love and respect. 


1 comment on “Thomas McCarthy :: Liam Weldon Tribute

  1. Thankyou so much for this. It is astoundingly beautiful. I hadn’t seen it until just now. Apologies for that delay. Thankyou again. To everybody involved.

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