Country legend Big Tom passes away aged 81

Big Tom

Big Tom and Larry Cunningham back in the day

The death has occurred of well known Irish country music star Big Tom, who had a number of links to Dundalk.

Tom McBride was born in County Monaghan and is best known for hits including Four Country Roads, Back To Castleblayney and The Old Rustic Bridge.

A statement from his family said he died peacefully.

I enjoyed tremendously meeting him on more than one occasion and getting to know him a little bit and certainly enough to know that this is truly a sad day for the country music scene in Ireland.

'May he rest in peace'.

News of the showband leader's death was announced by his children. He said: "Big Tom was the King of Country for good reason".

"With his band the Mainliners, he filled dance halls the length and breadth of the country".

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He also dismissed the idea that the players were let down by their club and country. He insisted money did not drive the decision to sack the players.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: His songs were a reflection of Irish life and an important connection for the Irish diaspora.

Mr McBride's career spanned more than five decades on the Irish country music scene. "I want to extend my sympathies to his family and friends".

Speaking about this year's Country Music special Tubridy said: "This is the third year of our Country Specials and it has really established itself as one of the audience's favourite Late Late Shows. He was an Irish music legend and a true gentleman", said Deputy Smyth.

O'Donnell talked about his memories of going to dances, hearing Four Country Roads in the late 1970s and early 1980s and seeing big Tom.

"Ireland's King of Country Music for so many years and his legacy will live on for many years to come".

"We all referred to him as the King", O'Donnell told RTE Radio 1.

"Despite being a living legend, Tom was always an extremely humble and gentle man. Oram, Castleblayney to his core, he always spoke proudly about his Monaghan roots".

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