Last of the Clancy brothers dies

 

Liam Clancy, the man Bob Dylan described as the “best ballad singer I’d ever heard in my life”, has died. He was 74.

Clancy died at the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork yesterday 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 he was on his “last legs” from the disease.

His last performance was at the National Concert Hall in May, where he read Dylan Thomas’s poem And Death Shall Have No Dominion. “It was a very profound moment. He expressed his fear of dying, but he did it with great dignity,” his manager David Teevan said.

Liam was the youngest of the four Clancy brothers. Born in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, he emigrated to the United States in 1955 with ambitions to be an actor.

Along with his brothers Paddy and Tom, he began his singing career in Greenwich Village, New York, where the brothers met a young Bob Dylan who would forever cite them as one of the biggest influences on his career.

Together, the Clancy Brothers and their friend Tommy Makem became a transatlantic phenomenon after an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1961.

Filmmaker Alan Gilsenan, who made The Yellow Bittern,said Clancy remained a consummate performer until the end of his life.

Minister for Arts Martin Cullen described Clancy as “an example of an absolutely dedicated artistic craftsman” while Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said his contribution to Irish music was “simply outstanding”.

Clancy is survived by his wife Kim, his two sons Eben and Donal, his daughters Siobhán and Fiona and his eight grandchildren. His funeral is expected to take place at St Mary’s Church in Dungarvan, Co Waterford, near his home in the Ring Gaeltacht.