President leads tributes to Big Tom

Big Tom onstage at the Cork Opera House in December 1981

Big Tom onstage at the Cork Opera House in December 1981

The death was announced earlier this morning (Tuesday, April 17) of iconic country music singer "Big Tom" McBride.

"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear father Big Tom McBride (RIP) this morning", a statement on the singer's official Facebook page said. The word "legend" is often overused on occasions like this, but in Tom's case it is truly fitting and well deserved.

"Country music is richer because of him, he has left so much behind". His contribution to Irish social and cultural life in this area has been enormous.

His death comes just months after his wife rose died in January. Above all, he was a family man. On the other hand, he was probably heartbroken without his wife, Rose. He was very proud of that community and of County Monaghan in general.

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"There's people who have a presence and big Tom had it in abundance when he walked in somewhere". Maybe for him, it's a gift from God. Big Tom was the one that everybody saw as the main man. I am sure his family are devastated at his passing.

Philomena Begley spoke of how he'd light up a room.

An appearance on the fledgling RTÉ's The Showband Show in 1966 ensured their record Gentle Mother became a huge hit and propelled the band to dominance of the Irish dance hall scene in Ireland and the United Kingdom throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Big Tom was known for hits including Four Country Roads, Back To Castleblayney and The Old Rustic Bridge. The statue is expected to be unveiled later this year.

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