Tribute to Willie Campbell, Matt McGinn



Belfast City Centre




Filmed 2021/22 - Features archive footage from 1960s


13min 56sec





black and white, colour


Funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland under the Archiving Scheme 2


Arco Strings, Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, Darragh Murphy, Department for Communities, ITV, Matt McGinn, Natalya O'Flaherty, Sam Kwan, UTV Archive

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Northern Ireland Screen

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Northern Ireland Screen invited four artists to respond to the films within the Digital Film Archive. The Looking Glass Anthology is a collection of beautiful works by a range of musicians and poets that capture what the archives mean to them on a personal level.

Singer-songwriter Matt McGinn explains his encounter with UTV film of busker Willie Campbell from 1965:

"A friend directed me toward a video on the Northern Ireland Digital Archive. It was a black & white video of a city centre of what I recognised as Belfast. As the camera panned right, it focused in on an elderly gentleman, sitting on a stool and playing an instrument I hadn't seen since watching the Royal Variety Show as a child. I later learnt that his name was Willie Campbell and he busked the streets of Belfast for decades playing the Musical Saw."

In the finished piece, Matt has created a beautiful suite that takes the viewer back to the Belfast that Willie Campbell knew so well. Working with Dublin poet Natayla O’Flaherty who reads her piece, 'The Busker', Arco Strings and uilleann pipe player Darragh Murphy, Matt explores what we might think of as ‘the time before’ when the strains of Willie’s playing floated in the Belfast air. Filmed by Sam Kwan in the stunning setting of Carlisle Memorial Church, archive and modern film combine to create this stunning and emotional work.


A Northern Ireland Screen production funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland under the Archiving Scheme 2.

Performed by Natalya O'Flaherty, Matt McGinn, Darragh Murphy & Arco Strings.

Directed by Sam Kwan.

Produced by Bronagh McAtasney.



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