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THE YELLOW BITTERN: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF LIAM CLANCY

Director: ALAN GILSENAN

IRELAND • 2009 • COLOUR • DIGITAL • 110 MIN


THIS NEW FEATURE DOCUMENTARY FROM ALAN GILSENAN IS A SURPRISING AND DARKLY REVEALING PORTRAIT OF LIAM CLANCY, THE LAST SURVIVING MEMBER OF THE CLANCY BROTHERS AND TOMMY MAKEM, AND THE MAN BOB DYLAN CALLED ‘JUST THE BEST BALLAD SINGER I’D EVER HEARD IN MY WHOLE LIFE.’
The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem have garnered worldwide success and huge popular acclaim, but opinions are still divided about them. To many they are the true embodiment of the Irish popular folksong tradition, while to others they represent the worst excesses of stage-Irishness. Yet despite this, their songs remain our songs, the songs of a people. But for all their fame, their story remains largely untold. Myths and legends have grown up around The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, but the legend of Liam Clancy is perhaps the most potent.
The Yellow Bittern charts the remarkable rise to fame of The Clancy Brothers from their small-town beginnings in County Tipperary to the folk heyday of Greenwich Village in the 1960s, where they outsold The Beatles and influenced a host of artists. Drawing on unseen and behind-the-scenes footage of the band at their height as well as on Clancy’s own personal archive, the film presents a compelling look at an artist living life to the full. But Alan Gilsenan’s splendid portrait also goes behind the mask of the performer and delves deep into the psyche of Liam Clancy as well as his troubled personal life.
‘They were legends,’ says Gilsenan, ‘and their songs still stir something deep within us. They are etched upon our soul in some profound way. Their story is our story, the story of a nation.’

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