Watch: Country music stars join mourners saying farewell to Big Tom McBride

Stars of the Irish country music scene were among mourners at the funeral of Big Tom McBride, with Daniel O'Donnell declaring: "The king will live on."

Hundreds of people descended on the rural townland of Oram, County Monaghan, to pay their last respects to the star who died on Tuesday aged 81.

Big Tom and The Mainliners were formed in the 1960s and achieved widespread success, with Big Tom's hits including Gentle Mother, Four Country Roads and Old Log Cabin For Sale.

When he arrived, Daniel O'Donnell told the Irish press pack: "You think people like Tom are going to go on forever.

"And in the country music circle, there's no question, that he was the king, and he will be the king.

"He may be gone, but the king will live on, in everybody's hearts and certainly in his music."

He added: "It's a huge loss here for the people. The main factor is that he was one of the people, no matter where he went.

The funeral cortege for Big Tom McBride makes it way to Saint Patrick's Church in Oram. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

"He didn't carry the title of king or stardom very well.

"He was a real down-to-earth man. And he just had a connection with people that you can't explain, other than you've seen it and understood it and were present to experience it.

"And this is testament today with the amount of people that are here and the amount of people that were there on Wednesday to pay tribute to him.

"It's an honour to be here."

Daniel told the Press Association: "We'll remember him for his music. Everybody has a song, and numerous Big Tom songs are special.

"But we'll remember him for the man as well - the humble man who I suppose went to the top of his world but yet was as grounded as anybody could ever be."

Big Tom's coffin was draped with an Oram Sarsfields GAA flag.

Singer Daniel O'Donnell is greeted by a mourner as he attends the funeral of funeral of country music star Big Tom McBride. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins visited Big Tom's family at the family home on Thursday evening.

The president was represented at the funeral by his aide de camp, while Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was also represented.

An Oram GAA flag, Big Tom's Golden Disc, a tractor, a guitar, a fishing rod, and family photos were brought forward by family members to celebrate the star and his great loves.

Father Leo Creelman said it was a sad day for "the world of country music and for many, many people throughout our country and beyond".

He said it was "a heartbreaking replay of events" for the family, as they buried their mother - Big Tom's wife Rose - earlier this year.

"When Rose died a massive part of Tom went with her. He was lost, dazed and brokenhearted," Father Creelman said.

The priest told the congregation: "Big Tom had an amazing presence when he walked into a room or on to a stage.

He was a man big in stature, matched up with an even bigger heart. Despite all his success and fame, he always remained humble and down to earth and first and foremost a family man.

"I could dwell on his professional career, on his undoubted success and popularity in the Irish country music scene.

"He was referred to as a legend, a giant, an icon, a king, labels often liberally thrown out about others, but titles that Big Tom richly deserved and earned after decades of success in the country music scene, culminating with a lifetime achievement award at the Irish Country Music Awards in 2016."

Father Creelman said Friday was a day to focus on "Tom the family man, the ordinary man, a man very much down to earth", adding: "And it was the earth of this place Oram, County Monaghan, that kept Tom McBride grounded. He loved this place.

He loved his home, he loved his family, he loved the land. Locals here would often see Tom travelling round the little roads on his quad.

"Not only would they see him but hear him too, as that noisy exhaust never seemed to get fixed.

"But that was where Tom seemed to be the happiest, out and about, whether counting rabbits in the field or cutting ivy away from choking a tree.

"He loved the land, out on the old tractor ploughing or spraying the spuds, other times he was in the garden with the vegetables and flowers.

"Sometimes the outside came in, along with the associated smells, as he would lovingly incubate chick eggs in the good front room of the house, something that drove Rose mad."

The priest said Big Tom had a "healthy interest" in vintage tractors and all things old, and tractors were parked up in a line in the field opposite the church.

He told the packed church that Big Tom enjoyed golf, John Wayne films and water skiing, and played gaelic football for Oram, captaining the junior team to a winning double in 1963.

McBride's career spanned more than five decades and he is survived by sons Thomas and Dermot, daughters Aisling and Siobhan, and sister Madge.

- PA

Earlier: 'He may be gone, but the king will live on': Mourners gather to bid final farewell to Big Tom

Stars of the Irish country scene have gathered in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan to bid farewell to Big Tom McBride today.

The king of country music passed away on Tuesday aged 81.

Stars including Daniel O'Donnell, Margo O'Donnell, Susan McCann and Michael English all arrived at the funeral this morning.

Crowds of mourners gather for Big Tom's funeral at Saint Patrick's Church, Oram, Castleblayney Co. Monaghan. Picture: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

When he arrived, Mr O'Donnell told the Irish press pack: "You think people like Tom are going to go on forever.

"And in the country music circle, there's no question, that he was the king, and he will be the king.

"He may be gone, but the king will live on, in everybody's hearts and certainly in his music."

He added: "It's a huge loss here for the people. The main factor is that he was one of the people, no matter where he went.

"He didn't carry the title of king or stardom very well.

"He was a real down-to-earth man. And he just had a connection with people that you can't explain, other than you've seen it and understood it and were present to experience it.

And this is testament today with the amount of people that are here and the amount of people that were there on Wednesday to pay tribute to him

"It's an honour to be here."

The funeral cortege for Big Tom McBride makes it way to Saint Patrick's Church in Oram. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Earlier: Irish country music stars gather to bid final farewell to Big Tom McBride

The funeral of Big Tom McBride will take place today in Co Monaghan.

The king of country music passed away on Tuesday aged 81.

McBride's funeral mass will take place at 11am in St Patrick's Church, Oram, Castleblayney.

Mourners are arriving at the church including singer Margo O'Donnell - sister of Daniel O'Donnell.

Margo and Big Tom duetted on a song called A Love That's Lasted Through The Years.

Stars of the Irish country music scene Daniel O'Donnell, Susan McCann and Michael English have also arrived at the church where the sun is shining as crowds gather outside.

Speaking to the Press Association before he went into the church, Daniel O'Donnell said: "We'll remember him for his music.

"Everybody has a song, and numerous Big Tom songs are special.

"But we'll remember him for the man as well - the humble man who I suppose went to the top of his world but yet was as grounded as anybody could ever be."

On Wednesday, thousands of mourners queued to pay their respects to the star at a public wake close to his home in Castleblayney.

Country music lovers flocked to Oram GAA social club, where McBride's remains were laid out in a coffin in front of a big portrait of the star.

Books of condolence were left for mourners to sign their name or leave a note of their favourite memories.

- Digital Desk


More in this Section

Craig Revel Horwood on Strictly’s ‘abysmal’ dance-off

Top Gear’s new presenters: What you need to know

Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff to host Top Gear

Julia Louis-Dreyfus receives top comedy award


More From The Irish Examiner