Liam Lynch Film follows the leader of of the anti-treaty side as he makes his way south from Dublin in February 1923. He follows a route through remote parts of the country. He then crosses the River Suir and through the gap to the Nire Valley. Going west via the Knockmealdown Mountains and makes and he arrives in Goirtín Fliuch outside Ballingeary in West Cork on the 26th of February. While there he attends a meeting of local commanders in Coolea. He also makes a brief visit to Quills in Gort Luachra outside Kilgarvan. During these weeks in West Cork, he is accompanied by a young Todd Andrews. On the 17th of March sets out from Goirtín Fliuch to travel to the IRA executive meeting in Bliantas in Co Waterford.
The filming took place at a number of locations in South Tipperary, Waterford and West Cork.
The photo below shows some of the cast and crew from the second day of filming the re-enactments. There were nearly 30 people taking part as actors or extras over the course of the filming. There were about 25 people involved as crew and in the production team behind the camera. We received great support from about 25 others who give us access to old old houses and land for filming, contributed information & research, and helped in various other ways. It was very much a community project, with that community of participants and supporters stretching from Dublin to West Cork, Tipperary, Kerry and Waterford very much mirroring the areas along the journey taken by Liam Lynch in the period covered by the film. The group below include some of the cast and crew from the second day of filming.
John Foley produced The Dying Days film and was particularly involved in the camera work. This post gives an insight to the people behind the story and the making of the film. The initial idea for the Liam Lynch Film goes back to a lecture delivered by Michael Desmond at Waterford County Museum in 2016. He spoke about the executive meeting that took place in the Nire Valley in 1923 attended by Liam Lynch, Éamonn deValeara and many other well known republican figures such as Tom Barry and Sean Hyde. In 2019 while attending a course on Television Production in Nemeton and SETU John was looking for an idea for his final film project. He approached Michael with the idea of making a short documentary film about the meeting in the Nire Valley. Michael deflected him from that idea and he ended up making Díoltas, a documentary film tracing the kidnapping of District Inspector Gilbert Potter of the RIC by the IRA. He was taken across the Knockmealdown and Comeragh Mountains over a number of days in April 1921 before being shot near Kilclooney in Co Waterford. John is most comfortable behind the camera but having such a strong and supportive team around him made this film possible. John has worked as a photographer and film maker for the past few years and also works in adult education. John loves a challenge and creating The Dying Days is his idea of the perfect project, combining a love of film making, history, meeting interesting people and all set against a backdrop of remote mountain areas in Waterford, Tipperary and West Cork.
Fay Langley and Seán Hughes were doing the Higher Diploma in TV Production with Nemeton and SETU in 2022 and came along for work experience. Fay worked as boom operator and Seán was assistant camera person.
Gerard Shannon.Making the film Díoltas encouraged me to consider making the Liam Lynch Film. I took tentative steps in 2019 and 2020 but Covid put a halt to the plan. During that time I came across Gerard Shannon on Twitter and a tweet he had posted about Liam Lynch. The reaction to his tweet about Liam Lynch brought a wide range of responses ranging from “principled man” to “fanatic”. This re-enforced my interest in making a film about such a complex character.Gerard is a historian from Skerries in north county Dublin, with an MA in History from the DCU School of History and Geography. Gerard has written numerous articles and done talks on key figures of the Irish revolutionary period. He works as a civil servant in Dublin city. The range of comments on tweet caught my attention.
I then became aware that Gerard was writing a book about Liam Lynch and I made contact with him. He was very willing to get involved and he came and stayed at my house in November 2021 just before the Chrismas Covid lockdown. We recorded extensive interviews on the Saturday morning and the Sunday afternoon. Over the weekend we also visited the Nire Valley, Newcastle and Rathgormack. Having the interviews completed with Gerard meant I was off to a great start. I also interviewed Michael Desmond to give a local perspective on the story. By the end of 2021 much of the research was completed and most of the planning was completed.
March 2023 will see the new release of his book, ‘Liam Lynch: TO DECLARE A REPUBLIC’, the first major biography of Lynch in nearly forty years. It will be published by Irish Academic Press.
Michael Desmond from Ballymacarbry was the main interviewee on my previous film Díoltas from 2012. Michael is a local historian with an in depth knowledge of history from the War Of Independence and The Civil War and in particular the history of the area from The Nire Valley to Newcastle and The Knockmealdowns. Michael grew up on stories from his grandaunt Nan (Ormond) Hourigan who was an active member of Ballymacarbry Cumman na mBan. Lynch and his entourage stopped at Nan Hourigan’s family home in Glasha on the 8th of April before moving into Newcastle. Michael’s grandfather, also Michael Desmond, was the IRA intelligence officer for West Waterford during the War of Independence and Civil War.
Michael narrates the journey taken by Lynch which is illustrated on the beautiful map created by Dolores Lyne. Michael provides great detail about what happened in the lead up to the IRA Executive Meeting in the The Nire Valley and the events that happened on the day that Liam Lynch was shot. Michael draws on both research and his personal family connection to the events of the time. I am delighted to be able to capture so much local knowledge in the film.
Deirdre Collender came on board as the director of drama. Work started in earnest in early 2022. We decided to supplement the talking heads aspect with extensive re-enactments. Not only did Deirdre organise the casting, she also sourced the uniforms and costumes from the Abbey Theater. Even more importantly, she did extensive research on the story and wrote the scripts for the re-enactments. She directed all the drama scenes which added significantly to the production quality. Deirdre is also cast as the bean an tí in Lehane’s house in West Cork.
Deirdre has directed three successful productions, “Stags and Hens”, and “Blood Brothers” by Willy Russell and “Lady Windermere’s Fan” by Oscar Wilde. She directed two successful fund raisers with Waterford County Museum; An Evening celebrating Cumann na mBan through Drama and Music, and The Sheares Street Social Club, a play by Jim Cullinane, was a staged, rehearsed read with multi media enhancement in collaboration with John Foley. Staged at Town Hall Dungarvan 5 February 2020. She co-founded the Drama Circle in Dungarvan with Charlie O Donohue in 2015. A monthly forum for exploring drama, poetry, the written word for local artists. Recently, Deirdre produced and directed the one act play “Crotty the Highwayman” by Martina Collender, for Drama Circle at Crotty’s Lake performance area in May 2022.
Nóra Levis. Initially the film was to focus on the meeting at Bliantas and The Nire Vally plus the shooting of Lynch in the Knockmealdowns. Following initial research, and reading Florence O’Donoghue’s book “No Other Law” I decided to include the full journey taken by Lynch from Dublin to West Cork and back up the Comeraghs and the Knockmealdowns. This was an inspired move given the huge connections that Lynch had with Cork for much of his life. Thanks to Mícheál Ó Ceallaig in Ballyvourney, who put me in touch with Nóra Levis outside Ballingeary. Nóra lives with her husband Willie in the house where Lynch stayed for a few weeks with her grandparents in Februray 1923. Nora has two daughters and loves spending time with her grandchildren. She works in the library in Macroom and loves to speak as Gaeilge when ever she gets the chance. Nóra’s interview draws on stories she heard first hand from her relation Bina Cronnin who was in the house in 1923. Nóra also draws on the contents of a letter sent by her father Seán Lehane to Florence O’Donoghue in the 1950s. We get a real sense of the admiration of the people from that part of Cork had for Lynch.
Muireann Nic Cába worked on the production management of The Dying Days and is an award-winning producer with over 15 years’ experience of working with major broadcasters: BBC NI, CBBC & Cbeebies, BBC Learning, BBC Radio Ulster, RTE, TG4, TV3 and independent production companies: Cutting Edge Productions, NemetonTV, and Indee Productions. Her industry experience and attention to detail has been invaluable in raising the production quality of the film. Her motto is “If you can think it, you can do it.”
Tony Whelan has been a life long friend and like Deirdre has been involved in every day of filming and days spent preparing the locations. Tony and his brother Garry did extensive work preparing the old house where we filmed an number of the re-enactments. He was the location manger for the days filming and ensured the smooth running of the set and everything in the background. On the first day of shooting in March 2022 we had 26 people on site, not to mention onlookers and supporters. On the last day of filming we cast Tony in the role of Dr Lucey in West Cork.
Dawn Kenny has worked as composer and musician with artists such as U2, Kathy Bates, Dame Maggie Smyth, Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno and Cathal Coughlan and has collaborated on various albums and productions including Marvel Productions ‘Spider-Man’Turn Off The Dark’, ‘Díoltas’- John Foley, ‘The Miracle Club’- Lourdette Films, ‘Coming Home’-Samson Films, ‘World of Warcraft’-Blizzard Entertainment ‘Sing 2’-Illumination and ‘Window In The Skies’ and ‘Songs of Experience’ by U2. Dawn holds a PhD in composition and is committed to Music Education for all.
When I started working on The Dying Days I had an open mind about most things but decided at an early stage that we would try and get Dawn Kenny to compose the music for the film. Dawn had previously composed the 20 minute music track for Díoltas back in 2019. Dawn composed the music score for the film, recorded her performance of the score plus the mixing and mastering. Her music really brings the film to life and is very emotive.
Keith Alexander our sound designer, started working in studios when he was 16 years of age. After cutting his back teeth in music recording and production he moved into TV production and location shooting. He longed to be back in the studio so he entered the world of post production for TV and film where he has working since. In all those years he has learned many aspects of production from audio production to film production and has since moved into video production for social media and broadcast. As a director, he directs voice recordings for game and feature animation. He works mainly from from his own project studio in Dublin where he sound designs films and documentaries. He also hosts global webinars for several international clients on audio production for creatives.
We were very lucky to be able to get someone of the caliber of Keith to do the sound design for the film. It was a pleasure to work with him. The sound design was arranged many weeks in advance and was delivered on schedule. He provided us with a final stereo sound track that will be used when screening the film in non cinema venues. He delivered the 5.1 sound track that we are all looking forward to hearing in the cinema. This 5.1 sound will provide a wonderful experience for anyone viewing the film in the cinema.
Dolores Lyne, a grand-niece of Liam Lynch, is a professional visual artist who also works in film, television and theatre design. She graduated in art from WRTC and theatre at Motley in Covent Garden and won an Irish Times Theatre Award for Pigtown (Island Theatre Company, Limerick). She is currently working on a commission from Cork County Council Arts and Heritage Office as part of the Decade of Centenaries: ‘To the Letter’, a visual response to Liam Lynch’s personal correspondence with his brother Tom during some of the most dramatic years of the century, will tour widely. The piece below was inspired from a house in Co Waterford where Liam Lynch spent time during both the war of independence and the civil war.
We were very lucky to have Dolores working on the film with us. She created the set for the breakfast scene on the last morning and she also dressed the set for the final scene when Lynch is on the chaise lounge in Nugent’s pub. The photo below shows Dolores after painting and arranging the set. We built this set especially for the closing scene. Dolores also had a role in the film as a bean an tí at the breakfast scene in Houlihans house.
In order to illustrate the final journey taken by Liam Lynch in the early months of 1923 we needed a map. We wanted to show the extent of the journey but probably more importantly was to indicate the names of the places he stayed and the remote mountain terrain he crossed through. To that end Dolores created a wonderful hand painted map which conveys the extent of that final journey. The section of the map below illustrates the key role of the Nire Valley in that period. Lynch crosses westward through The Gap on his way down from Dublin en route to West Cork in February. He crosses the gap again in an eastward direction in March after the meeting of the IRA Executive meeting held in Bliantas and The Nire Valley in March 1923. In early April 1923 having returned from the Katmandu hideout he crosses through the gap again on his way to the Knockmealdowns where he is shot.
This project is supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 initiative. Waterford City and County Council, Cork County Council, Decade of Centenaries – History Ireland and The Department Of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.
Actors On The Liam Lynch Film This blog post provides a summary and photographs for all the actors who took part.
The Dying Days Film This blog post outlines some background to the inspiration and ideas for the film.
The Liam Lynch Monument This blog post outlines some background to the monument and also has a collection of photographs.