Folk legend Liam Clancy has died today, aged 74, his manager said.
The singer and musician was the last surviving member of the Clancy Brothers, who were credited with bringing Irish traditional music to a world audience in the 1960s.
Dubbed as Ireland’s first pop stars, international artists including Bob Dylan have acknowledged their profound influence on the world of music.
The Co Tipperary-born musician was surrounded by his wife Kim and daughters Siobhan and Fiona when he passed away around midday at Bon Secours Hospital in Cork.
He had spoken by telephone with his musician son Donal, who is touring in California, earlier in the day while his other son Eban was returning home from the UK.
Manager Dave Teevan said he had spoken with Clancy earlier in the week and although he was in good spirits, he regretted he wasn't as strong as he used to be.
“Liam was a man who always put the best foot forward and if he knew he was sick as he was he was very discreet,” he said.
In fact, the pair had been making plans just days ago for an interview once he had recovered from the latest bout of a six-month long respiratory illness.
He was admitted into hospital in recent weeks and it is understood he died of complications.
Clancy’s last ever performances were in Dublin’s National Concert Hall in May, where his worsening illness prevented him from doing a full-length show on the second night of a two-night sold-out run.
“When he did appear in the middle of the second half, the 40-minute performance he gave that night was truly remarkable,” said Teevan.
“He delivered Dylan Thomas’s poem And Death Shall Have No Dominion – he knew at that time he was in close contact with his impending death and yet he was able to connect with the audience and express his fear in a way that was both dignified and beautiful.”
Clancy had been living with his wife and one of his daughters in Ring, Co Waterford since the 1980s.`
He emigrated to America from the family home in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary in the 1950s to join his brothers Tom and Paddy who were forging out an acting career in New York’s theatre scene.
Along with friend Co Armagh-born Tommy Makem, the four began putting on concerts in the bohemian hothouse of Greenwich Village initially to raise rent money for a small theatre.
“We had no intention at that stage of pursuing a singing career,” Clancy said later, “but the singing became more and more part of our lives”.
Other emerging artists in the folk scene were drawn to the rowdy, rebellious, good-humoured and emotional performances of songs they had learning back in Ireland.
One of those, Dylan, would later say: “He was just the best ballad singer I’d ever heard in my life and still is probably, I don’t think I can think of anybody who’s a better ballad singer than Liam.”
The group’s career sky-rocketed after an apperance on the Ed Sullivan Show in the 1960s, in which they wore the Irish-knit Aran sweaters that became a hallmark of their identity.
The performace led to international tours including appearances at New York’s Carnegie Hall and the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Clancy went on to enjoy a successful solo career but never forgot his earlier work, reuniting with former bandmate Makem for a series of albums and tours while he toured with his son Donal in the 1990s.