Thousands of fans gather in Monaghan to pay respects to singer Big Tom

One fan of the singer described it as "the saddest day of our lives"

Thousands of fans gather in Monaghan to pay respects to singer Big Tom

Plaque dedicated to Big Tom in Oram in Co Monaghan. Image: Paul Quinn

Fans of country singer Big Tom say he is a legend who will never be replaced.

Huge crowds have been lining up in County Monaghan today to say their goodbyes to the 81-year-old ‘King of Country’.

During a music career that spanned more than five decades, Big Tom performed to thousands of people at venues both at home and abroad.

Today thousands of fans have come to the community centre in his native Oram to bid him farewell.

His manager Kevin McCooey said he had a unique voice.

Kevin observed: "He did it his way. He didn't copy anybody.

"He knew his way around a song - he sang it from his heart."

One fan described it as "the saddest day of our lives".

She explained: "We loved Tom. He was a living legend... he'll always be a legend to us. I don't know how we're going to carry on without him."

Singer and friend Margo said the music stopped when Big Tom died, adding that her "heart is broken".

The Taoiseach and President were among those who paid tribute to Big Tom yesterday, with Michael D Higgins describing him as "one of the most charismatic and influential artists in Irish country music".

Tom McBride will be laid to rest on Friday following funeral mass in Oram.

There are also plans to erect a statue in his honour in Castleblayney later this year.

Reporting by Paul Quinn and Stephen McNeice