Let’s not have a sniffle, let’s have a bloody good cry

That which I feared has come to pass: Tommy Makem has died. He was 74.

Here is the official Makem.com thread on the Bard’s passing. More here. I can’t even access The Mudcat, presumably because they’re overwhelmed with traffic from Makem mourners. [UPDATE: Here’s the Mudcat thread about Makem.] There are lots of tributes over on LiamClancy.com, too, including this post by Liam himself:

Good friends – I just got the word from the family that Tommy passed away at about 6.45PM in Dover NH. As you all probably know he has been ill for quite a while. His suffering at last is over.

He was a friend and partner-in-song for over fifty years. We shared a great hunk of our lives together. We were a hell of a team. Tommy was a man of high integrity, honesty, and, at the end, courage. Our paths diverged at times but our friendship never waned. He was my brother every bit as much as my blood brothers.

His death has left a void that cannot be filled. A great entertainer has left us.

All our thoughts and prayers go out now to his family – Katey, Shane, Conor, Rory, Molly and all those close to him.

But perhaps the most fitting tribute comes from a Makem.com poster, Kevin Tunstill, who quoted “The Parting Glass” in its entirety. Here’s an audio recording of that lovely, and appropriate, song:


source file

While I’m sure Makem would appreciate that send-off, I also think he’d probably enjoy something a bit more upbeat. After all, the Irish are renowned for their rowdy wakes, based on the notion that we should celebrate the life of the deceased rather than merely mourning his death — and in Makem’s case, there’s certainly a long and wonderful life to celebrate. Moreover, while Makem’s death is a sad blow to those of us left here on Earth with a sudden musical void in our hearts, I don’t doubt that he’s looking down from Heaven and getting a kick out of all the commotion that’s being made, and will continue to be made in the coming days, over his passing. To that end, and in honor of this great man, I offer the following rough transcription of Makem’s own thoughts from beyond the grave:

Heck, he’s probably singing that, or some other similarly irreverent song about death (“Finnegan’s Wake,” perhaps?) with Tom and Paddy right now. I’m sure God and the angels are enjoying the show. I bet even King Billy is tapping his feet.

I’ll have more to say about Makem’s passing in the coming hours and days. For now, all I can say is, Rest in Peace, Tommy Makem. Thanks for all the wonderful music and memories. You’ll be sorely missed.

3 Responses to “Let’s not have a sniffle, let’s have a bloody good cry”

  1. Joe Loy says:

    A great man gone.

    But forgotten, no nay Never. Tommy Makem’s memory will live on always, in the world’s inexhaustible treasury of his song & story & stagecraft & film & numberless other good works. Through the long generations his fame will go down.

    A Fitting tribute, Brendan ~ and in a spirit that Tommy would like, to be sure to be sure. :)

  2. Joe Loy says:

    P.S. ~ “I’m sure God and the angels are enjoying the show. I bet even King Billy is tapping his feet.”

    Yes & Himself (like Yerself :) being a fine & Forgiving fellow, Makem would Also approve of your charitable presumption regarding the eternal Venue wherein William of Orange now beats his ould celestial Lambeg Drum :). And furthermore, when the time comes for the penitent Paisley ;> to join his royal hero in that Fourth Green Field in the Sky :}, I know Tommy will be delighted for to poke the reformed Reverend Doctor in the eye with a Tin Whistle just prior to inviting him in to join the festival of heavenly folksong. :]

    btw, for the Uninitiated (if Any :) amongst the readership, the singer in the posted clip of “The Parting Glass” is a very young Liam Clancy. / Liam’s the last surviving of The Original Four now. He’s a magnificent balladeer & a fine guitarist & a great man for the ould Squeezebox-and-Sea-chanty too. Here’s hoping he will remain With us for Many more years to come.

  3. Joe Loy says:

    Leanna says:
    I have “known” Tommy Makem for as long as I have known Joe Loy. Our first date was to a Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem concert. Tommy and the Clancys provided the soundtrack for our marriage and for our family life. Brendan’s first, unscripted, performance, (at age three) was a verse of Four Green Fields.

    Tommy Makem was a significant force in Irish and folk music circles for all his professional life, composing, singing, speaking through his music messages that Ireland (and we all) needed (and still need) to hear and to heed.

    The October winds lament, and we must now mourn. May his memory be a blessing.