Music News

Irish singer Tommy Makem dies

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Irish folk singer Tommy Makem, dubbed by some critics as the godfather of Irish music, has died from lung cancer in the United States. He was 74.

“He died in Dover, in New Hampshire, to where he immigrated first in 1955 when he went to America,” his nephew Peter Makem told Ireland’s RTE radio on the Internet on Thursday.

Makem rose to fame in the 1960s with the Clancy Brothers, then pursued a successful solo career that took him to Australia, the United States, Britain, and Canada.

In the late 1960s, Makem penned “Four Green Fields,” a mother’s melancholy lament about her “sons,” representing the four historic provinces of Ireland. The ballad became one of his signature songs.

Decades later, Makem produced a number of music specials for U.S. public television that featured folk legends like Judy Collins and Pete Seeger, according to his Web site (

Liam Clancy of the Clancy Brothers told RTE radio that Makem had inoperable lung cancer and died late on Wednesday.

Irish President Mary McAleese described Makem as a consummate musician and superb ambassador for his country.

“In life, Tommy brought happiness and joy to hundreds of thousands of fans the world over,” she said in a statement on her Web site.