Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

Hundreds attend Clancy funeral

The funeral of folk singer Liam Clancy makes its way to St Mary's Church, Dungarvan, Co Waterford
The funeral of folk singer Liam Clancy makes its way to St Mary's Church, Dungarvan, Co Waterford

Folk legend Liam Clancy was now reunited with his brothers and bandmates after a passionate life that was lived to the full, his funeral service heard.

On a biting cold winter's day, hundreds packed into St Mary's Church in Dungarvan, Co Waterford, to raise a parting glass to the Irish balladeer, praised by Bob Dylan as the best ever.

Priest Conor Kelly said Clancy had a joy of life driven by a belief that it was too wonderful and mysterious to just get through skimming the surface or living in the shallows.

The youngest and last to die of the Clancy brothers, who along with the late Tommy Makem were dubbed Ireland's first pop stars, had rejoined his bandmates in eternity, mourners were told.

"The great band is together again, the music is fierce and the craic is mighty," said Fr Kelly.

Music impresario Shay Healy said America had Elvis, Britain had The Beatles and Ireland had The Clancys and Tommy Makem.

Recalling Liam's return from the US for the Thurles Fleadh Cheoil music festival during the band's heady days in 1965, he said it was like being in the company of The Playboy of the Western World and Jesus rolled into one. "Half the people wanted to touch his hem, the other half wanted to buy him a drink," he said.

Led by wife Kim and children Eban, Donal, Sean, Andrew, Siubhan, Fiona and Aine as well as sisters Peg Power and Joan Butler, mourners spontaneously burst into song during the Mass as Donal played traditional airs, including Mo Ghile Mere and Oft in the Stilly Night.

There was standing room only in the church as figures from Irish music and politics, including representatives of President Mary McAleese and Taoiseach Brian Cowen, jostled for space among the many who turned out for the send-off. Singers Liam O Maonlai, Finbar Furey, Paddy Reilly and Arts Minister Martin Cullen were also in attendance.

The service was celebrated in both English and Irish, the first language of Clancy's adopted Gaeltacht home in Ring, Co Waterford, and was marked by music, story-telling and humour.

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