Monday 27 May 2019

Band members to give 'Big Tom' musical send-off

Big Tom’s remains arrive for public reposal at Oram Community Centre. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Big Tom’s remains arrive for public reposal at Oram Community Centre. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Allison Bray

The original members of 'Big Tom' McBride's bands are expected to pay a musical tribute to him following his funeral this morning.

Former band manager Kevin McCooey said that while arrangements were still being organised late yesterday, he expects the surviving members of The Mainliners and The Travellers will pay tribute to Big Tom at his graveside following his funeral in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan.

"There will be music when they come out of the church," original Mainliner Henry McMahon told the Irish Independent last night.

As for the funeral itself, gardaí and church officials are expecting a massive turnout of thousands of Big Tom's devoted fans from across Ireland.

Gardaí are warning mourners and locals alike to "expect large volumes of traffic" in the town where "parking will be at a premium".

Local diversions will be in place to accommodate the traffic, while the R182 Castleblayney to Newtownhamilton road will be closed to heavy goods vehicles before and after the funeral.

Stewards will also be on hand to direct traffic and provide assistance to mourners seeking parking, although organisers said priority will be given to Big Tom's immediate and extended family and close friends.

Mr McCooey, who lives in Castleblayney, said he expects the town will come to a standstill again this morning, judging by the massive turnout at his public reposal at the Oram Community Centre on Wednesday.

"Close to 15,000 people went through from 4pm to 8pm," he told the Irish Independent last night.

"It was lovely to see the people, they all came to see him," he said.

Big Tom was then returned to his family home for a private wake last night before his Requiem Mass at Saint Patrick's Church, Oram, on the outskirts of Castleblayney at 11am today.

Fr Leo Creelman, of Castleblayney, will be chief celebrant of the Mass.

Along with Big Tom's legion of fans, his many friends, family and household names from the music industry are expected to attend, including Daniel O'Donnell.

Representatives for President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar are also expected to attend.

Meanwhile, some of Ireland's biggest names in country music will pay tribute to Big Tom on a special edition of tonight's 'Late Late Show'.

The RTÉ television chat show had already planned to air its third country music special tonight, but changed tack following the death of the beloved 'king' of country and Irish music on Tuesday. Now a 'who's who' of country singers - including O'Donnell, Nathan Carter, Philomena Begley and Susan McCann - will pay tribute.

Meanwhile, jazz legend Paddy Cole and 'Sunday World' columnist Fr Brian D'Arcy will discuss the impact he had on the Irish country music scene and the musical legacy he left behind.

Irish Independent

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