Hundreds say a final prayer for folk legend
LIKE the music-lovers who came from far and wide to hear him sing and play for many years, mourners travelled from all parts last night to pay their respects to the late, great Liam Clancy.
Defying the bitter cold in the great balladeer's beloved west Waterford, a steady stream of people filed into a Dungarvan funeral home to sympathise with Liam's wife Kim, children, grandchildren and sisters.
Relatives, friends, colleagues past and present, prominent figures from the worlds of art and entertainment, and many who didn't know the man but loved the musician were there.
Today he will be buried in his adopted home of Ring, in the New Cemetery, after requiem Mass in St Mary's Parish Church in Dungarvan.
As Fr Flor O'Callaghan put it last night at a prayer ceremony in Kiely's Funeral Home, Clancy had "a special gift to be able to relate, intimately, with his audience".
A huge crowd is expected to attend today's funeral but among those who were present last night were cyclist Sean Kelly, who himself hails from outside the Clancys' native Carrick-on-Suir, and musician and collaborator Paddy Reilly.
After flying back from Boston on hearing the news of his friend's death, Mr Reilly pointed out that two of the Legends of Folk group which came together to tour their blend of ballads and folk songs had now passed away. The death last year of Ronnie Drew and last Friday of Liam left just Mr Reilly himself and Finbar Furey of the original quartet.
Mr Reilly said he had visited Liam six weeks ago, "when he wasn't too well", but had seemed to be getting better, so news of his death had come as a shock.
Two of Clancy's daughters, Fiona and Siubhan, read at last night's ceremony, as did his sister-in-law Joan Clancy -- wife of the late Tom.
To Liam's wife Kim and his children Eben, Donal, Sean, Andrew, Siubhan, Fiona and Aine, sisters Peg Power and Joan Butler, and the rest of his family, Fr O'Callaghan offered the sympathy of the community.
"Liam will be sadly missed by you all and by his friends and many fans throughout the world," he said, before recalling the impact made by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem in America, wearing the white bawneen jumpers sent over by Mrs Clancy, with their music bringing them huge acclaim.
They played for President Kennedy, were bigger than the Beatles for a time and admired by the likes of Bob Dylan.
The songs Clancy made his own -- 'The Band Played Waltzing Matilda', 'the Jug of Punch', 'the Dutchman' -- remain loved by many.
"We are all saddened by his passing," said Fr O'Callaghan, "but we'll still be listening to his music for many, many years yet."