Sunday May 29 had a special line-up as part of the Schull Fastnet Film Festival to celebrate local artist and musician Fergus O’Farrell, who died in 2016. Events included a screening of Breaking Out, the award-winning documentary about his life, and a concert by his band Interference. Earlier that day, Fergus’s sister Lydia gave a reading from Overload, her soon to be published memoir, in the quiet space of the village’s bookshop, Worm Books.
In Overload, Lydia gives an intimate and raw account of her brother’s wake and funeral, all the while carrying the secret of how he really died. It is not just a journey of loss and grieving. It is also a discovery of the joy that can be found in grief and giving ourselves permission to allow that joy in.
Lydia explained that while writing Overload her mind would sometimes wander to a particular song by her brother that she felt reflected the theme of a certain scene or emotion.
‘I took some comfort knowing that his words sat beside mine on the same page – as if he was there with me throughout,’ Lydia explains. ‘When it came to “TiTi”, the song he wrote for his wife, Meng Li, Ferg had written it in English, but for his wake, Li translated the song into Chinese and wrote it onto the linen canvas of a small umbrella.’
Lydia has included the Chinese version in her book but never heard it vocalised. But as luck would have it (Lydia likes to call it ‘Fergendipity’), Chinese actor and film producer Fenfen Huang was staying with Lydia for the festival, and she invited her to recite the song in her traditional tongue. Dressed in white – the mourning colour for the Chinese – Fenfen gave a beautiful account, and the song was then performed a cappella (in English) by Lydia’s daughter, Roisin Little.