A recording of a poignant peace song composed by Miami Showband massacre survivor Stephen Travers and sung by fellow Carrick-on-Suir man Liam Dwyer was launched in Belfast last week.
"The Calling" has become the signature song of the Truth and Reconcilitation Platform (TaRP) an organisation co-founded by Mr Travers two years ago to promote reconciliation and lasting peace in Northern Ireland by highlighting the terrible consequences of terrorism on both sides of the politicial divide through the stories of its victims.
The CD was officially launched at a reconciliation event at the Parador Hotel on Belfast's Ormeau Road on Tuesday of last week . The event was chaired by former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister and former SDLP Deputy Leader Seamus Mallon.
Stephen chose his close friend of 45 years, Liam Dwyer, the veteran Carrick-on-Suir singer, former Independent councillor and showband frontman, to sing "The Calling" for the CD.
He said Liam played a big part in his life before and after the Miami Showband attack and he was the right voice for the song.
"Liam is very much a pop singer but he is also a lovely ballad singer and a great man to tell a story, very much in the style of Liam Clancy. That is how I saw the song," Stephen told the Nationalist.
"I wanted a folk type voice but also someone who would connect with young people. I thought Liam was the ideal person to square the circle."
The bass guitarist was seriously injured by a Dum Dum bullet in the horrific loyalist attack on the Miami Showband at Banbridge, Co. Down on July 31, 1975. Three of his fellow band members -Fran O'Toole, Tony Geraghty and Brian McCoy - were shot dead by the notorious Glenanne Gang.
Stephen and Des McAlea were the only survivors. He wrote "The Calling" back in the mid-1980s at a time when he had emigrated with his family to the UK to put the harrowing experience behind them.
He said "The Calling" was about a victim of terrorism, who like an emigrant yearning to return to his home country, yearns to return to the life he had before but is forever exiled in the "foreign land" of life after the tragedy.
The song is available on itunes, Amazon, CD Baby, Spotify and all the major online platforms.
It is also on sale at all Truth & Reconciliation Platform events. It has already been played on radio stations in America and Australia since it was released on May 1.
Liam, who performed alongside Stephen in several showbands in the 1970s, told The Nationalist he was "over the moon" when Stephen asked him to be the singer for "The Calling".
"The last recording I made was in 1983 and little did I think I would be back recording again in the twilight of my career. It's marvellous," he said.
Liam and Stephen recorded "The Calling" at the Sands family recording studio in Newry and the Golden Egg Studios in Portlaoise in February. Interweaved through the song is Stephen's recitation of the Truth and Reconciliation Platform's mission statement outlining its members determination to use their experiences of the consequences of violence to "build bridge by publicly illustrate that no side has a monopoly on suffering or loss".
Stephen said he and Liam had great fun recording "The Calling". "The feedback about Liam's voice is fabulous. People have said to me 'why having we heard about this man before'. What people mostly comment on is the sincerity of his voice," he told The Nationalist.
Liam from Ard Mhuire, Carrick-on-Suir first met Stephen after a night out in their hometown in 1973 and they have remained close friends ever since. "We are constantly on the phone to each other. We have kept in touch like brothers," said Liam.
Soon after their first meeting, Liam and Stephen formed "The Sinners" showband together. The group was very successful and played to crowds of up to 1500 people. When the band broke up, Liam took a break from performing, while Stephen joined the famous Miami Showband in May 1975 after initially turning down an earlier job offer with the band the previous September.
Liam vividly remembers first hearing the news of the terrorist attack on the radio the morning after it happened. He dropped everything and got a lift to Newry from a holidaying couple returning to Scotland and visited the seriously injured Stephen at the Daisy Hill Hospital.
Stephen recalls that Liam was one of the first people to visit him in hospital after the terrorist attack and has always been interested in the reconciliation work he has been involved in the decades since.
After recovering from his physical injuries, Stephen returned to playing music and he and Liam formed a second showband, "The Movies", which performed for more than two years. One of the band's high points was being the closing act for the 1977 Piltown Festival, the line up of which included Joe Dolan, Paddy Cole, Big Tom, Gloria, Margo and Rory Daniels.
When the band broke up, Stephen went back playing with the reformed Miami Showband before moving to England and Liam began performing with smaller two and three piece groups in between his work as an independent councillor on Carrick-on-Suir Urban District Council. Liam, who was also a good friend of the late Liam Clancy and once toured with him, recorded a CD of Irish folk songs called "Liam Dwyer Sings Irish Classics" in 1983. He confessed he never thought he would record again until Stephen asked him to be the recording artist for "The Calling".
While this is his first time to record in 35 years, Liam has never stopped singing.
He still performs regular local gigs at Butler's Pub in Irishtown in Clonmel with Tony Egan in between training primary school children in GAA skills at Kilcash and Kilvenmon National Schools.