THOUSANDS of people turned out in Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan this afternoon for the unveiling of a statue of late Irish country music legend Big Tom McBride.
President of Ireland Michael D Higgins unveiled the statue of the singer, who passed away in April this year aged 81.
Fans from around the country came to see the unveiling on Main Street in the singer’s home town.
Huge crowds in Castleblayney today for the unveiling of Big Tom statue by @PresidentIRL. Well done to Margo, Castleblayney Regeneration & @MonaghanCoCo for ensuring we have a fitting and lasting tribute to a true Monaghan icon. pic.twitter.com/XOFyHp80ty
— Heather Humphreys (@HHumphreysFG) September 23, 2018
The statue, created by English artist Mark Richards, was commissioned before the singer’s death.
Heather Humphreys, Fine Gael TD for Cavan and Monaghan, paid tribute to the Castleblayney Regeneration Committee and Monaghan County Council for their work in securing a tribute to ‘a true Monaghan icon’.
“A very emotional but proud day for the McBride family and the local community in Oram and Castleblayney,” she wrote on Facebook.
A source of hope for emigrants
The star, who first found success with his band The Mainliners, was popular at home and abroad, being a regular performer at famous London venue The Galtymore.
At the unveiling, President Higgins said: “The music of Big Tom perhaps meant something even more to those who were forced, as he was as a young man, to seek their fortune in the industrial cities of England and Scotland, to labour in big houses and hostelries or on the railways and construction sites.
“From Kilburn to Merseyside, Irish people in England flocked to hear songs which evoked bittersweet memories of their homes and their people in Ireland – songs which, despite their sadness, were a source of light and hope for those who needed to sustain the memory of Ireland.”
The Statue is the latest tribute to Big Tom, who had number 1 hits in Ireland with I Love You Still and Old Love Letters.
A plaque was previously erected in Castleblayney in his honour, while in June 2016 he was the inaugural inductee into the Irish Country Music Hall of Fame.
As well as being a fantastic tribute to the singer, fans agreed the statue was a great likeness of Big Tom.
A truly memorable occasion as President Michael D Higgins unveils a bronze statue of Big Tom. It is a wonderful likeness and a true work of art. Big Tom brought happiness to the lives of generations and very particularly our emigrants. pic.twitter.com/z4WD56HxY6
— Joe O' Reilly (@senjoeoreilly) September 23, 2018
The Big Tom statue is a great likeness. Best one I’ve seen as I often don’t recognise the person. pic.twitter.com/IdfPiI0Nkf
— Mazzy K (@MazzyK) September 23, 2018