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Big Tom McBride was the shining star of country music

The singer Big Tom McBride, who has died at the age of 81, enjoyed an amazing career which took him all round the world and he was probably the best known star in the colourful history of Irish country music.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar captured his appeal neatly yesterday when he said, "Not many people are known by their first name, but that was Big Tom."

He packed venues across Ireland and beyond for over half a century but he always insisted on returning to his home town of Castleblaney in Co Monaghan.

Although the era of the showbands has faded, Big Tom remained as popular as ever and his passing will be deeply regretted by his many fans.

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