Skip to content
Landing page show after 5 seconds.

Blacksod filmmaker wins Film Mayo residency


BEHIND THE LENS Fergus Sweeney plans to make a documentary on the R116, which affected his local community so deeply.

Fergus Sweeney has been named winner of the Film Mayo Creative Ireland Residency Award in partnership with Ballina Arts Centre. The Blacksod man plans to use his residency to research and record interviews with members of the public who found themselves at the heart of Rescue 116 tragedy, capturing the emotions of people locally and nationally. The will lay the foundations for producing a documentary focusing on the tragedy.
The aim of the Film Mayo Creative Ireland Residency Award is to benefit the filmmaker in their own practice. This residency award will allow Sweeney time to develop new work, dedicate time to research, develop new ideas and work with the local community.  A key component of this residency award is that it has a mentoring aspect designed to support the filmmaker.
The expert panel of mentors are Mark McIlrath, Brendan Muldowney and Martina Niland. Mark McIlrath is a script editor with 20 plus years’ experience working with screenwriters. Brendan Muldowney is an award-winning writer/director. His latest feature film, ‘Pilgrimage’ (2017), was shot in Mayo over three weeks. Aughagower native, Martina Niland, is a well-established Irish Film and Television Producer with close to 20 years’ experience in the industry. She is perhaps most famous for her work as film producer on the hit film, ‘Once’.
When the Film Mayo residency award was announced there was a great response, and a large volume of high-quality applications from Mayo-based or -born filmmakers was received. The applications were accessed by an independent external panel, who were extremely impressed with the quality of applications.
The residency is a minimum of 20 days and will take place between September and December 2018. As part of the award, Sweeney will receive a budget of €6,000 and will receive up to 15 hours of mentoring from the expert panel. Sweeney will also have use of Ballina Arts Centre Facilities during his residency, as well as two weeks in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Co Monaghan, in 2019. The Tyrone Guthrie Centre is a residential workplace for artists, dedicated to supporting and facilitating creativity within a welcoming and trusted environment.
Sweeney has worked in the Irish television and film industry on varying productions from drama and entertainment to documentary. With film and television credits from both national and international productions, he has gained a wealth of experience, working alongside some of Ireland’s leading producers, directors and cinematographers.
Combining his skills and geographical location, Sweeney often finds himself filming wildlife one minute and breaking news the next – but it is this diversity and ever-changing work environment, combined with a creative element, that he loves so much.

For more information contact Film Mayo at or 094 9064367,  visit, or write to Film Mayo, Mayo Arts Office, Mayo County Council, Áras an Chontae, Castlebar, Mayo, F23 WF90. Film Mayo is a Mayo Arts Service, Mayo County Council, initiative.