Rosswood, Carrabaun, Westport
Liam was a Westport man to his core. His love of place nourished and sustained him for 84 years. He worked hard, did his part but never forgot to marvel at the beauty and magic of life. At 22 he suffered an aneurysm which very nearly cost him his life. But his indomitable spirit prevailed and it only re-enforced his huge appetite for life.
Believing he was spared for a reason he lived life to the full and was quick to embrace every opportunity. It was while convalescing that he started looking at life through his camera lens. This led to half a century of capturing the beauty of the places and people of the West of Ireland. He was so proud that he won the heart of his beloved Mabel with whom he shared 55 years of devoted togetherness. Backed by her endless love and support he ran a very successful photographic business on Bridge Street, Westport for over 40 years. He was ever happy amongst his shop-keeping brethren, got great fun and joy from the banter and camaraderie and treasured his place among them all. An eternal optimist, he always saw the best in a person or a situation. His vibrancy started early each day when he rose with the lark. Burning the candle from both ends he shared countless adventures with a wide circle of lifelong friends. A member of the Mayo Flying Club and a shareholder in a twin seater airplane for many years he spent hours photographing the beauty of the Mayo landscape from the sky above. The sea called him too. Time was regularly slotted into his busy diary for evening excursions, sailing on Clew Bay and capturing on film the magnificent sunsets over Croagh Patrick and the islands. He loved his job with a passion. Yes, he had a gifted eye for beauty. He was so in tune with the light and mood of his countryside. But his real passion was always for people. Although he photographed over 2,000 weddings he took a genuine interest in each bride and knew the privilege of being part of the most important day in their lives. He would light up when he bumped into any of them years later and shared memories.
He saw a magic in people and was fascinated by them. He delighted in the fact that his work brought him into contact with those from all walks of life and told many a story of his time spent with many well-known personalities such as Mother Teresa, Gene Kelly, Roy Orbison and Princess Grace. Always striving forward there was no time to come up for air. He became a household name around the county and grabbed the opportunity to exhibit his work in the United States. This resulted in his photographs adorning the walls of homes all over the world. It wasn’t long before he became vice president of the Irish Professional Photographers’ Association (IPPA), a role he worked hard at for many years. The pinnacle of his success was when he was hugely honoured to become the first photographer in Ireland to be conferred with a Fellowship of the Association for landscape photography. But Westport was his town and he gave everything he could to it. He spent many hours plotting ways to entice famous performers for the Westport Arts Festivals.
He was also a long serving member of the Tourism Committee. At the forefront of festivals and promotions such as ‘Westport Tastes Europe’, he knew it was the best place to live and was intent on sharing the secret. These things were possible because his beloved Mabel was the wind beneath his wings. They shared the same code for living which was above all compassion and time for other people, with community at the heart of this. Their faith was at the centre of how they lived and acted as a scaffold for their lives. It helped him weather every storm and kept him in tune with the plight of others. He was very upset by the famine in Ethiopia and was one of the founders of the Westport/Aror partnership with the Medical Missionaries of Mary. This led onto 16 more partnerships in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique. He got huge fulfilment from his collaboration with the MMM’s, was awe inspired by their courage and commitment and was so proud to work with them and share their friendship.
In more recent years he set about digitising his life’s works. Over 50 years of photographs had led to thousands of negatives which were carefully filed away. But he was determined that they should not lay unseen and should be shared by all. His legacy lives on in these archives and is held in the County Library where it can be enjoyed for generations into the future. As his pace of life slowed he finally found time to relax with family and friends. He could embrace his love of classical music and savour his role as grandfather to his adored grandchildren. Liam was a gentleman. A dedicated elder of the town, he was gentle in his approach and ever generous with his time, talents and wisdom. The only time the word aggressive was associated with him was when the doctor gave the bad news. His last year was tough but true to form, he fought his illness with courage, patience and without a word of complaint. We, his family, are so grateful and proud to have loved and been loved by him. He continues to inspire us to embrace life with a whole heart and to cherish every moment. We miss him every day and will carry him in our hearts forever.