A Silent War: Asclepeion



Glenariff, Lough Erne, Rowallane Garden, Tynan





02min 45sec







Northern Ireland Screen's Digital Film Archive


Department for Communities, Jason Lytle, Laura O'Connor, Mel McMahon, Northern Ireland Screen, Ross Thompson

Rights Holder

Northern Ireland Screen, Rights are managed by National Museums Northern Ireland on behalf of Tourism NI, Ross Thompson

It is illegal to download, copy, print or otherwise utilise in any other form this material, without written consent from the copyright holder.


Asclepeion is part of A Silent War, a Covid-response poetry project written by Ross Thompson during the first lockdown. Read by Mel McMahon, the poem reflects on the need for healing amidst the fear and stress created by the pandemic, describing it as an ‘armistice’, 

a tending to our wounds in these houses

      of healing,

a moment to halt our faltering hearts

      from beating

quite so quickly…

Responding to this idea, musician, Jason Lytle went hiking to connect with nature, seeking inspiration and solace, and converting this into a fluid, melodic score that underpins a montage of colour-saturated, pastoral footage from the Digital Film Archive, edited by Artist and Filmmaker Laura O’Connor. Within the idyllic, somnolent mood of the film and music, lies a hint of the pervading threat that, like a dark cloud over the sun, quietly unsettles this moment of peacefulness and calm. 

Check out the 'Related Videos' below to watch the original archive films.


Asclepeion by Ross Thompson, Lockdown 2020


And yet, so grateful for the winding down

of this clock: 

a chance to stop, pause, reflect, convalesce

and take stock 

of how we all ended up so cutthroat

and cut off, 


to unyoke our heavy burdens, to walk

out of step 

with jittering rhythms that rendered us


and propelled us to be competitive,

so entrenched 


in our busyness - the constant drumming

of sword duels 

and dogfights - to see how far afield,

how out of tune 

with the true line we were, how foolishly

we refused 


to concede our need for solitude,

an armistice, 

a truce, a ceasefire with those who harmed us,


letting go, a humble acceptance of



a tending to our wounds in these houses

of healing, 

a moment to halt our faltering hearts

from beating 

quite so quickly, some time out, a respite

from feeling 


so paranoid, sickly and tearful for

no reason, 

a need to relinquish, to embrace this

strange season 

wherever it may lead, that we would all

agree on 


letting ourselves be cupped, like fallen birds,

in the palm 

of slowness, the curative spa water

and the balm 

of stillness. Check in to this hall of sleep

and be calm. 


Poet: Ross Thompson

Reader: Mel McMahon

Audio Mastering (Original reading): ST Mastering

Musician: Jason Lytle

Artist and Filmmaker: Laura O’Connor

Archive footage: ©Tourism NI - Beauty to Last; The Quiet Land; Ladies Golf At Portrush; Tynan Point-to-Point and Maze Races

A Silent War Creative Producers: Sinéad Bhreathnach-Cashell & Ann Donnelly

Funded by the Department for Communities through Northern Ireland Screen



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