Irish country music legend Big Tom dies aged 81

Big Tom onstage at the Cork Opera House in December 1981

Big Tom onstage at the Cork Opera House in December 1981

Longford country music fans are in mourning this morning following the death of singing sensation Big Tom McBride in hospital earlier today.

Mr McBride was known for his performances as the lead singer of Irish showband Big Tom And The Mainliners, who were formed in the 1960s.

"He will be sadly missed by all who knew him".

Big Tom became a star in the 1960s having formed the Mainliners, later touring with the band for nearly two decades.

Speaking on the Ryan Tubridy Show on RTÉ Radio 1, O'Donnell said: "He reached out to people in Ireland and those people who had emigrated from Ireland".

Tom McBride from County Monaghan is best known for hits including Four Country Roads, Back To Castleblayney and The Old Rustic Bridge. "Country music is richer because of him, he has left so much behind", he said.

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

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: His songs were a reflection of Irish life and an important connection for the Irish diaspora. "His many unknown acts of kindness to people is [sic] not forgotten".

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