Paddy Clancy, who, with the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, has been credited with popularizing Irish ballads — and Irish music in general — throughout the world, died last Wednesday at his home in Tipperary after a long illness. He was 76.
Clancy, who was one of 11 children and was born in Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary, was widely known as a genial man and a pivotal figure in the Irish music scene in the U.S. and Ireland.
After immigrating to the U.S., the Clancys formed the group the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem in Greenwich Village in 1959 and recorded the first of what would grow to be 55 albums. They soon became known for their Irish songs and ballads, and in New York they recorded the first of 55 albums. During those early years they performed with Bob Dylan and Barbra Streisand.
They became famous in the U.S. when they went on the "Ed Sullivan Show" at the last minute after another act dropped out. They went out live for 20 minutes to over 80 million people and became an overnight sensation. Then followed international fame, and among their performances was one before President John F. Kennedy in the White House. The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem came back to Ireland as a group for the first time in 1963.
After the 1975 breakup of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, Paddy and Tom, with another brother and a nephew, performed together, but were less in the public eye than brother Liam and Tommy Makem. Paddy had always wanted to raise Charolais cattle and he had a farm in his native Tipperary.
In 1984 they had a big reunion show in the Lincoln Center and also got together again for concerts in Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Galway. In 1996 they did a farewell tour and Paddy Clancy led the show in the National Concert Hall.
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Paddy Clancy died at his home near Carrick-on-Suir. He was married twice and is survived by his wife, Mary, and five children.
Writer and broadcaster Ciaran MacMathuna said that he met the Clancy Brothers for the first time in 1962 in New York. At that time they were playing in the pubs in Greenwich Village and singing for nothing. Then they became known and he remembered being in Carnegie Hall for RTE radio when they played to 3,000 people.
"Paddy Clancy was the senior member of the family," MacMathuna said. "Later on, Paddy came back when he retired and had a farm in his native Tipperary. He was a very progressive farmer and brought in strange breeds of cattle and was very successful. He was a very progressive person and was great company to be with.
"Paddy was the strong man of the group and a very organized man. He was not the bohemian type as people might imagine."