Rockin' Rowley: 'I will never forget that first Big Tom show'
Mick Flavin has never forgotten the first time he saw country legend Big Tom perform at a carnival dance.
Today he's a major star himself, but back then Mick was just 16 when he and a group of pals did a 20-mile round trip on bicycles along country roads to see Tom McBride in action one night.
"I had been a huge fan of Big Tom ever since his big hit with 'Gentle Mother' while I was going to the tech in Ballinamuck (Co Longford) in 1966," Mick explains.
So when he heard that Tom was playing at a carnival in Cornageeha on the Longford-Leitrim border, Mick set off "on a bad bike" with a few friends.
"Big Tom and The Mainliners were playing in a huge, six-pole marquee and it was absolutely stuffed," he remembers. "The excitement that Tom and the band created that night was incredible to experience. I'll never forget it."
It was a night that reinforced Mick's desire to be an entertainer himself.
He later achieved that ambition, and in the twists and turns of life, Mick would go on to share many a music bill with Tom.
"I never thought I would have a big career in music, but I was lucky with the way the cards were dealt," the award-winning singer says. "And I met Big Tom many times at shows. What I always admired about Tom is the fact that even though he's a huge icon in the world of country music here in Ireland, he never let success go to his head."