Country music star Big Tom McBride has died

Big Tom onstage at the Cork Opera House in December 1981

Big Tom onstage at the Cork Opera House in December 1981

DANIEL O'Donnell has led glowing tributes to Irish country music legend Big Tom McBride who passed away this morning aged 81.

"He will be sadly missed by all who knew him". The Monaghan man drew crowds from far and wide during his long career.

The band found success with songs such as Gentle Mother, Old Log Cabin For Sale, Broken Marriage Vows, The Sunset Years Of Life and Back To Castleblayney.

The Donegal singer said Big Tom was a connection to so many people that had left Ireland. We all referred to him as The King.

"On behalf of the priests and people of the Diocese of Clogher, I pray that God will grant Big Tom eternal rest and I extend to his family our prayers and honest sympathy at this time".

"The many country music stars that followed Tom had him to thank for so much".

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His death comes just months after his wife rose died in January.

Anther contemporary of Tom's, Philomena Begley, said: "I'm very sad because I didn't realise he was as ill as he was". "He was a character in his own right. he'd light up a room because he was full of divilment too you know".

The Irish prime minister, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, was amongst those with warm words for the "Mainliners" frontman.

"Not many people are known by their first name, but that was Big Tom".

People have been paying tribute to the showman and sharing their memories and anecdotes of "The King" of Irish country music.

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