Singer Liam Clancy dies aged 74

Fri, Dec 4, 2009, 00:00

Liam Clancy, the man Bob Dylan described as the "greatest ballad singer" he had ever heard has died. He was 74.

Mr Clancy died at Bon Secours Hospital in Cork after a long battle with pulmonary fibrosis - scarring of the lungs. His brother Bobby died of the same disease in 2002.

In an interview with The Irish Timesin September to promote The Yellow Bittern,a film about his life, he admitted that he was on his "last legs" from the disease.

Liam was the youngest of the four Clancy brothers and Paddy, Bobby and Tom all predeceased him. Tommy Makem died two years ago.

Born in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, Liam Clancy emigrated to the United States to join his brothers in 1956.

They began their singing careers around the pubs of Greenwich Village where they met a young Bob Dylan who has claimed them as one of his biggest influences.

Together the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem began a transatlantic phenomenon after a fortuitous break on the coast-to-coast Ed Sullivan Showin 1961 where they filled in for a guest who could not turn up.

They were then offered a record deal with Columbia and were hugely successful on both sides of the Atlantic resurrecting Irish songs such as Roddy McCorley, Brennan on the Moorand The Jug of Punch.Their ability as recording artists was matched by the strength of their live performances and their gifts as songwriters.

Filmmaker Alan Gilsenen, who made The Yellow Bittern,said Mr Clancy's passing was the "end of an era".

"He and his brothers and Tommy reclaimed an enormous amount of folk songs for Ireland, reinterpreted in them in terms of their experience in America outselling the Beatles at one stage."

Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny expressed his sympathy on the sad passing of Liam Clancy, saying that Ireland has lost a brilliant musician.

"I hugely regret the passing of Liam Clancy. His death really does mark the end of an era. Liam’s contribution to Irish music and culture was simply outstanding," he said.

"As a member of the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem, they revolutionised ballad and hope music in Ireland and later with Tommy Makem, Liam provided outstanding entertainment and promotion of his country."