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Tragedy for Tommy Fleming as parents die hours apart

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COUNTRY singer Tommy Fleming has been left heartbroken after his parents died within hours of one another.

The star cut short his UK tour to rush to the family home in Aclare, Co Sligo, last week after learning that his mum Annie (83) was seriously ill.

He was by her bedside for a week before she passed away peacefully on Friday morning at Sligo General Hospital.

However, tragically, Tommy was dealt a double blow when his father Paddy (86) died just a few hours later.

The couple had celebrated their golden wedding anniversary only two weeks ago.

Annie's funeral was originally due to take place yesterday -- but was moved to today so she could be buried alongside her husband.

The 40-year-old singer said his parents had been devoted to each other, and to their family, all of their lives.

Mr Fleming rose to fame in the early 1990s after he was asked to tour the US with Phil Coulter. He soon established himself as a solo artist and found great success singing traditional Irish music.

The singer cheated death himself when he broke his neck in a road-traffic accident on November 26, 1998. He had fallen asleep behind the wheel on the way home from a gig and ploughed into a tree.

Mr Fleming, who lives in Enniscrone, Co Sligo, with his wife Tina, spent a year and a half recovering from the accident.

The singer, who is the youngest of six siblings, attributes his talent and love of music to his late parents.

Devoted

His father, a farmer, had a huge record collection, which included everything from Shirley Bassey to the Carpenters to Ceili bands.

"They were so devoted to each other and did everything for us throughout their lives," Mr Fleming said.

"Everyone is heartbroken. It's tragic that they have both died within such a short space of time of each other, but in a way it is fitting that they are together now," he added.

Earlier this week, he revealed how tough it was in a post on Facebook. "It has been a very tough week for my family and I cannot construct a word or sentence that describes how all this feels," he wrote.

A message on his website stated: "Tommy and his family very much appreciate your love and support at this difficult time. Thank you all for your kind messages and thoughts."

The couple will be buried together after funeral Mass at the Church of the Holy Rosary, Kilmactigue, Sligo, today, with burial afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.

Irish Independent