A screening of Hammond: Duais an Dorais took place this evening at the Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy – reflecting David Hammond’s long friendship with Seamus Heaney.
‘When his name is mentioned, people smile’. These words from poet Michael Longley capture the warmth and affection felt by the arts community in Ireland toward film director, singer, teacher and author, David Hammond (1928 – 2008).
Made to mark the 10th anniversary of his death, Hammond: Duais an Dorais, which will be broadcast on TG4 on Wednesday 29th August, 9.30pm, examines through contributions from friends, family, former colleagues, and archive footage of, and from, the man himself, the life, the creative talent and continuous legacy of David Hammond.
Presented by his close friend, composer and musician Neil Martin, the programme traces Davey’s professional life from his background in education, through his career at BBC Northern Ireland (where he managed to transform his shy friend Seamus Heaney into an excellent broadcaster), to his mentoring and nurturing of up-and-coming talent, and of course his musicianship.
There are nostalgic and heartwarming stories and clips from his television work including, The Magic Fiddle, the award-winning Dusty Bluebells and Sarah Makem.
Other contributors, including writers Glenn Patterson and Brian Keenan, artist Neil Shawcross, broadcasters John Kelly from RTÉ and BBC Northern Ireland’s Marie-Louise Muir and musician Dónal Lunny (who recalls a raucous hospital visit involving whiskey and cigars) all combine to give viewers a sense of Hammond’s warm and witty personality.
Sarah Makem’s great-granddaughter Stephanie and Seamus Heaney’s son Mick recall Hammond’s empathy and wonderful ability to engage people. And contributions from Davey’s family, accompanied by archive footage, photography and memories of their holiday home in Donegal (often featuring regular visitors, the Heaneys) reveal how their remote cottage became a place of fun, music and refuge for anyone who came knocking.
As well as an inspiring body of work and wonderful memories, Neil Martin tells how on visiting his friend for the last time, Davey gave him four special books containing hundreds of traditional songs collected by Sam Henry in early 20th century Ulster.
“It’s an invaluable archive of local songs that Davey had preserved in the knowledge that it would be preserved in generations to come,” says Neil.
“Davey left many things to many people throughout his life, but this was his parting gift to me.”
Hammond: Duais an Dorais is a timely reappraisal of David Hammond’s television and radio output, and why it remains relevant for a new generation of musicians, broadcasters and audiences.
In the words of Seamus Heaney: “He was a great Ulsterman and a great Irishman, a man of rare energy, one of the transformers in Irish life. He was a courageous romantic, a heroic democrat, free of sectarianism and free of ideology.”
Hammond: Duais an Dorais (A Parting Gift) has been produced as part of the inaugural Amharc documentary initiative by DoubleBand Films for TG4 and BBC Northern Ireland with support from Northern Ireland Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund. The programme is mostly in Irish with English language subtitles.