Big Tom McBride dead: Irish country music star dies aged 81

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Irish country music legend Big Tom has passed away aged 81.

He tweeted: "Big Tom McBride a lovely man RIP, deepest sympathies to his family".

"Dad passed away peacefully in the company of his family".

"May he rest in peace".

As one of the most charismatic and influential artists in Irish country music, Big Tom was widely respected and through his five decades of music making he leaves a lasting legacy.

In 2016, Big Tom McBride became the first inductee into the Irish Country Music Hall of Fame.

He was one of several artists who took part in a charity concert in Letterkenny previous year following the August floods that devastated parts of Donegal.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: His songs were a reflection of Irish life and an important connection for the Irish diaspora.

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Fellow crooner O'Donnell spoke to Ryan Tubridy on RTE Radio 1 this morning and said he'd been left "speechless" following Big Tom's death. We all referred to him as The King.

He continued: "It is just so sad".

He added: "I was very saddened to hear of the death of Big Tom this morning". I am sure his family are devastated at his passing.

She said: "From Four Country Roads to Gentle Mother, his hits have travelled far and wide, earning him the title of the King of Country Music".

"There was something special about his music, Big Tom was the one everyone saw as the main man".

During his life, Tom brought great joy to many people, both in Ireland and worldwide, through his singing and his music.

The Late Late Show Country Special has proven to be one of the most popular episodes with the special in April a year ago drawing an audience of 677,400 viewers and a 52 per cent audience share.