Documentary on OneConor Walsh – Passing Through

As heard on Documentary On One

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Conor Walsh was a minimalist piano player from Swinford, Co Mayo, who performed his own original compositions to great acclaim both on tour supporting Hozier, and at major music showcases like Electric Picnic and Other Voices. During his short lifetime, he officially released just four instrumental tracks, on an EP titled The Front.

After quitting his “proper” job as a social worker, and briefly running a bar, Conor spent the final two years of his life living alone in an isolated fishing cottage on the banks of the River Moy. He always maintained that he was using that time to work on his own full-length debut album.

But, among his friends and family, some had begun to doubt whether this long-promised album of his actually existed. Had progress on it stalled due to Conor’s infuriating perfectionism? Was he still traumatised by a violent assault he’d suffered while employed in a juvenile detention centre years earlier? Or was he, as his sister once put it, just dossing away out there in the countryside?

Then on a Friday evening in March 2016, Conor was cooking dinner for his mother at the family farmhouse in Ballinisland when he collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack, aged 36. The mystery of what he had been up to in the cottage was finally solved a few days later, when his family managed to access the password-protected hard drive of his laptop.

 

 

What they found were 37 stunning, original tracks – 25 of them complete. Even in the midst of their immense grief and shock, Conor’s family and friends were united in their determination that this album had to be released to the public. It took three years, and the efforts of a whole cast of friends and well-wishers, but Conor Walsh’s superb debut album The Lucid was finally released in 2019.

People who didn’t know Conor, often imagine him as sort of chaste, hermit-type character, who shunned human company to obsess over his music. The truth was far from that. Conor was, among other things, a talented Gaelic footballer, a keen fisherman, a loyal friend and a ferocious late-night debater.

In Conor Walsh – Passing Through, Conor’s childhood friend Eoin Butler talks to Conor’s family, friends and artistic peers about his unusual life and about the people, sounds and experiences that shaped his haunting and unforgettable music.

Narrated by Eoin Butler
Produced by Eoin Butler and Sarah Blake
Sound Supervision by Liam O’Brien
Broadcast Co-ordinator – Michael Lawless

Archive recordings of Conor Walsh from the short film ‘Conor’s Hotel’ are courtesy of Patrick Dyar.
Audio of Conor performing on the Other Voices TV series is courtesy of South Wind Blows Productions.

More information on Conor Walsh and his music can be found at conorwalshmusic.com.

An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland

Documentary on One – the home of Irish radio documentaries

© The Listener 2020

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