Liam Campbell: Writer, scholar and man of wit and warmth
A gifted writer, scholar, musician and academic, published both creatively and academically.
A man with great wit and warmth, shown in character and storytelling.
A listener with great knowledge.
A man interested in, and interesting about, any topic - driven by a constant desire to contribute to and engage with artistic creativity.
It is with great sadness but also pride that we pay tribute to our friend Dr Liam Campbell, part of the team of creatives at the Playhouse Theatre in Derry.
Born in the Creggan area of the city in 1965, Liam attended St Columb’s College where he was referred to as the ‘Corner Boy from Creggan’. He loved telling that story, for no matter what Liam achieved there were never any airs or graces about him.
He became a lecturer in English at North West Regional College and gave many talks across Europe and America on storytelling and the literature of the 20th century.
As a Tolkien scholar he presented conference papers on the author as an environmentalist at Christchurch College, Oxford and Wofford College, South Carolina.
He explored new evidence that the world-famous landscape and Celtic legends of the west of Ireland inspired Tolkien’s masterworks The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.
With 10 years’ experience working as an arts coordinator in both the community and formal education, Liam was inspired by the power artistic creativity, peacebuilding and positive social change; and delivered creative arts workshops and trained other facilitators across Europe and USA.
His debut full-length play, The Harbinger, was winner of the Greer Garson Theatre award and was shortlisted for best new play by an Irish author.
The Bog Couple enjoyed a sold-out run and standing ovations at The Playhouse and Millennium Forum and his play The Monk, The Bird and The Priest was described as “really, really powerful” (BBC Radio Ulster) and “harrowing, hard-hitting & heart-wrenching”.
In his latest and final work, The White Handkerchief, which will premiere in The Guildhall and broadcast across the world on Bloody Sunday’s 50th anniversary on January 30, he has created a beautiful elegy, a message of love and hope to and for our city.
Telling the story of the events of 1972 through the eyes of one of the victims, William McKinney, it takes its name from the iconic image of Fr Edward Daly waving a blood-stained handkerchief as he led a group of people carrying wounded 17-year-old Jackie Duddy.
Liam was also a musician, recording and performing regularly with his prog rock band Dead Heroes Club.
With bandmate Chris Norby he also explored the history of protest music in his own show Songs of Social Conscience.
A humble man but also a very funny man, the pleasure felt in Liam's company will never be forgotten by those fortunate enough to enjoy it.
We are so proud and lucky to have known him.
The best of men.
Liam Campbell died aged 55 after an illness on December 20 and his funeral was held at St Columba’s Church, Long Tower.
He is survived by his wife Liz, children Christopher, Wendy, George and Jordan, grandchildren, his mother Maeve and siblings Carl and Marie.