. (Photo by David Gahr/Getty Images)
Liam Clancy (1935-2009)
Today marks the anniversary of the passing of the great singer Liam Clancy from Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary. Liam left a rich legacy of recordings which will be enjoyed for many years to come. His brothers Paddy, Tom and Bobby also sang and The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem became famous in the US in the 1960s. Later in his career, Liam toured and recorded with his son Dónal and his nephew Robbie O’Connell. In addition to being a fine singer of traditional ballads and contemporary folk song, Liam had a great love of drama and poetry. He would often lead into a song by reciting a poem and had a gift for speaking the words which one rarely finds in folk singers today. You can watch him on YouTube performing Austin Clarke’s poem ‘The Planter’s Daughter’ before singing “Ar Éireann Ní nEosfainn Cé Hí’
“Ar Éireann Ní nEosfainn Cé Hí
I remember him performing this song after the funeral of his brother, Bobby, in Carrick-on-Suir in 2002. A session was taking place in a pub on the main street and Liam came in, sat down, took out his concertina and sang the song without any other accompaniment. It was an unforgettable moment, the emotion and passion in his voice matched so closely by the lonely notes of the concertina.
His son, Dónal, carries on the singing tradition but is also a wonderful guitarist whose album Close To Home is traditional tunes masterfully played on guitar in a style that very few are capable of.
Close To Home
Liam’s nephew, singer/songwriter Robbie O’Connell, continues to write and perform and last year on TG4 performed a beautiful new song he wrote about the River Blackwater called ‘Abhainn Mhór An Mumhan.’ He has written many fine songs over years on subjects as diverse as his uncle Bobby’s britches getting washed away by the incoming tide as he swam (‘Bobby’s Britches’) to a beautiful reflection on Nicaragua (‘Full Moon Over Managua’). Although the famous Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem may have passed on, some of those who toured and recorded with Liam continue to perform and develop new material.
Full Moon Over Managua
To return to Liam, I think over the Christmas break I’m going to light a big fire one night, set up the old record player and listen to the double album The Makem and Clancy Concert. Recorded in Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre in 1977, it features the extraordinary ‘Peter Kagan and the Wind’, a unique story told very dramatically by Liam and Tommy Makem with musical backing and some singing. Grand way to pass a cold winter’s evening!
Peter Kagan and the Wind
Part 1 https://youtu.be/yJiU4PnQ2Mk
Part 2 https://youtu.be/zyGt0D5wKAY