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Liam lives, but Clancy brother savors ‘virtual’ wake

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — Traditional musician and balladeer Liam Clancy enjoyed his virtual wake on the Internet after a New York radio station pronounced him dead at the age of 64.

Members of his family rang from the U.S. to find out about the funeral arrangements and were shocked when he answered the phone.

A bemused Liam believes a man of the same name died in Connecticut and that started the rumor.

WFUV, the Fordham University radio station, announced his passing on an Irish music program on Sunday, Feb. 20, and followed it with the broadcasting of a collection of songs in tribute such as "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" and "Red is the Rose."

The first he heard of the error was a frantic trans-Atlantic phone call from a shocked relative.

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"I enjoyed the wake," said Clancy who has his own webpage on the Internet and was able to read a stream of condolences and tributes that poured onto the site within hours of his "death."

"It is very eerie feeling to get a preview of your own death," he said. "It doesn’t happen to too many people. On the website there were 1,200 hits of people calling in condolences, people sending in memories and wonderful tributes. It was great."

He is currently writing his autobiography and is delighted with all the memories and new perspectives from his fans that were posted about him on the Internet.

Clancy said that when the mistake was discovered his nephew Robbie O’Connell sent him an e-mail asking, "How are they all in Hell?"

"I am sure you have heard by now that you died last night. You are now in the select company of Mark Twain, who announced after a similar occurrence, ‘Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.’ "

The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem rode the 1960s folk boom to fame and fortune. With hand-knit Aran sweaters as their trademark and a collection of rousing ballads they went from ceili halls to Carnegie Hall and pioneered a new international popularity for Irish music.

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