Irish-American 101: Tommy Makem
August 2, 2007 9:45 PM   Subscribe

Tommy Makem has passed. May a craic wake follow. Tommy Makem, he of the Clancy Brothers, and solo fame, has died of lung cancer. He will be missed. Raise a pint and sing a wee bit in his honor.
posted by bigskyguy (33 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
All right, whiskey, at last a real reason for this vicious battle we've been having each night, where I try to destroy as much as you as possible through ingestion and you try to murder me from the inside.

I think I will try a whole bottle of Red Breast in honor of Tommy. One of us will be the victor tonight.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:49 PM on August 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:20 PM on August 2, 2007

Fare thee well Tommy.

His music a lot of people really happy. Me too.

My favorite, this old gem, Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem - the little beggerman. That's Tommy standing. Other videos on GoogleTube, including Finnegan's Wake. Always loved the superb harmonies of the Irish sea shanties, like Haul Away Joe. Mick O'Connor, who played with Tommy Makem, playing joyous get up and dance banjo.
posted by nickyskye at 10:22 PM on August 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Tis a better place you go to Tommy, no fear of that.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:36 PM on August 2, 2007


They don't makem like that anymore.
posted by salishsea at 10:43 PM on August 2, 2007

Of all the money e'er I had,
I spent it in good company.
And all the harm I've ever done,
Alas! it was to none but me.
And all I've done for want of wit
To mem'ry now I can't recall
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all

Oh, all the comrades e'er I had,
They're sorry for my going away,
And all the sweethearts e'er I had,
They'd wish me one more day to stay,
But since it falls unto my lot,
That I should rise and you should not,
I gently rise and softly call,
Good night and joy be with you all.
posted by Soliloquy at 10:47 PM on August 2, 2007 [5 favorites]

Tommy Maken and the Clancy Brothers were the only thing listened to in our home from the end of January through early April. Any time I hear a non-Tommy interpretation of an Irish standard it always sounds wrong. May his body of work speak for him long after today.
posted by datacenter refugee at 10:49 PM on August 2, 2007

Your favorite ObitFilter sucks.
posted by Poolio at 10:51 PM on August 2, 2007

I quite like this "ObitFilter"

I'm headed to Ireland this September and the links in this thread have made me aware of some interesting Irish music.
posted by jabo at 11:17 PM on August 2, 2007

The irish rover
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:08 AM on August 3, 2007

And the big local hit here, The Leaving of Liverpool
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:10 AM on August 3, 2007

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

posted by El Brendano at 1:56 AM on August 3, 2007

Thanks for the music Tommy.
posted by Abiezer at 2:11 AM on August 3, 2007

Liam Clancy takes the lead on this one.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:56 AM on August 3, 2007

Nothing to do with Tommy or the Clancy's at all, but my absolute favourite Irish music clips on YouTube:

Shane and Christy Moore
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:11 AM on August 3, 2007

I say: Ooh! Ahh! Up their arse!
Oohahh up their arse!

Up the republic and f00k the British!

So glad I got to see Tommy live with my family. I don't know many (any?) of my concertgoing friends who can boast that they saw him.
posted by Eideteker at 4:21 AM on August 3, 2007

The Irish above reads, May his soul be at God's right hand , which you say when someone dies. I'm sure he's not only on his right but he's playing up a storm!
posted by Wilder at 4:53 AM on August 3, 2007

My parents first took me to see he and The Clancy Brothers* when I was about five. It was sad to drive home to his adopted hometown last night and see the news plastered on the newspaper boxes.

* At 5, I was terribly disappointed to learn it was possible to share a last name and not be related. I was expecting to be sitting on stage or something.
posted by yerfatma at 6:12 AM on August 3, 2007

There was an old British major lived outside the town I come from, and he always talked as if he had a cut in his lip or something - one of these terribly nice sorts of chaps. And there was this poor old beggarman came up one day, and he was going to touch him for a shilling or two.

So he walked up to him, the major was down at the door, smoking a cigar. And the major looked at him and said, "BE OFF, BE OFF, BE OFF, you should have a job, you should be working!"

And the beggarman looked up at him and he said, "Ah major," he says, "that kind of thing is for other sorts of people - not for the likes of me or you."
posted by Flunkie at 6:17 AM on August 3, 2007

What Soliloquy said. Exactly.
posted by cookie-k at 6:19 AM on August 3, 2007

My dad has always enjoyed being in touch with his "Oirish" side, and Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers made up the chief part of our road trip soundtracks when I was growing up. There were four of us kids singing along with dad, and we loved to roar the chorus of "Wild Rover" with all the windows rolled down. Sure and wasn't I afraid we would break through the floorboards with our stamping? Good times.

posted by chihiro at 6:39 AM on August 3, 2007

posted by mwhybark at 7:09 AM on August 3, 2007

Soliloquy quotes the song I was thinking of, because the first version of it I ever heard was Tommy Makem and the Clancys.

posted by mephron at 7:30 AM on August 3, 2007

*His music made a lot of people really happy. Me too.

"After touring for about nine years as The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, he struck out on his own, but he remained friends with the brothers. Tom Clancy [stomach cancer] died in 1990 and Paddy [lung cancer] in 1998." Bobby Clancy died in 1992, pulmonary fibrosis.

"The last surviving member of the Clancy Brothers, Liam Clancy, continues to tour solo, as well as write. In 2002, through Doubleday, Liam published the first part of his memoirs, Mountain of the Women: Memoirs of an Irish Troubadour."

"In March 2006, fifty years after the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem recorded their debut album, The Rising of the Moon in March 1956, the first full-length biography on the Clancy Brothers was written and published by Conor Murray. The book, titled The Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem & Robbie O'Connell: The Men Behind the Sweaters chronicles the Clancy Brothers from the birth of Paddy Clancy in 1922 to early 2006. Simultaneously a two hour documentary on Liam Clancy was aired on Irish television, The Legend of Liam Clancy, as was a new TV concert special from Tommy Makem and his sons, the five-piece Irish folk song group The Makem & Spain Brothers.

Through 2005 to the present Liam has been joined once again by Kevin Evans of Evans and Doherty, both onstage and in the studio. Paul Grant and Kevin play nightly with Liam who continues to record, write and perform worldwide. His latest CD, "Yes, Those were the days", was a top selling record in late 2006. A full length feature film of his life is slated to begin filming this year culminating with a filmed concert in New York City. Liam will be appearing with Paul, Kevin, Danú and Karan Casey at the Tonder Festival in Denmark in August 2007."

Liam's site and the message board.

Tommy Makem's site, showing how busy he was, in spite of having lung cancer. His message board.
posted by nickyskye at 7:40 AM on August 3, 2007

The first Celtic group (of uncounted hundreds now, Irish, Scots, Welsh, Cornish, Breton, Celtiberian...) I ever heard was the Clancys and Makem. Fuller pours out a 40 a double shot of Bushmills 21 year for Tommy.
posted by jfuller at 9:26 AM on August 3, 2007

I don't know many (any?) of my concertgoing friends who can boast that they saw him.

/me raises hand, saw Tommy Makem and the Clancy Bros in Dublin in 1981.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:29 AM on August 3, 2007


Here is Tommy singing Wild Mountain Thyme (Will You Go, Lassie, Go).

This is lovely, but I've only linked to it because I couldn't find a video of him singing The Mary Ellen Carter, which was what I wanted to post in memory of him. I heard him sing it not long after 9/11 and it brought the entire house to tears, and to its feet.

Here's a video of Liam Clancy, of the Clancy Brothers, singing it.

Rise again, rise again,
Thou your heart, it be broken,
your life about to end,
No matter what you’ve lost,
a home, a love, a friend,
Be like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.

posted by tzikeh at 10:28 AM on August 3, 2007

Always loved TM and the Clancy's version of Shoals of Herring too.
posted by Abiezer at 10:53 AM on August 3, 2007

a slante
posted by spitbull at 3:40 PM on August 3, 2007

You know, it's funny, but I saw Tommy Makem and the Clancy Bros as a child in 1981, and I was re-reading some of the obits, and I can't shake the feeling that Four Green Fields actually isn't a good song to remember him by. I can't shake the feeling that it's the same sort of rah-rah Republicanism that leads to the kind of low-level support that the IRA feeds off.

Contrast Four Green Fields' imagery of brave sons going off to do battle, with Bono singing about Bloody Sunday but at the same time saying "Fuck the revolution."

My grandfather used to tell me thrilling stories about Michael Collins, his childhood hero. Decades later, I realized Michael Collins essentially invented terrorism. It's kinda the same feeling here...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:49 PM on August 3, 2007

I picked up a three-disc box set of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem for $4.99 at my local used record shop back when it existed. I don't know that I can think of a better deal I've gotten on music I didn't actually steal.

It never even occurred to me to find out if any of them were actually still alive, though. Their music was so utterly transporting that it seemed like if they were around, the world would feel a little different. My loss, I guess.

posted by crinklebat at 6:30 PM on August 3, 2007

posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 7:14 PM on August 3, 2007

Michael Collins essentially invented terrorism

I come to metafilter because it takes all sorts, really, all sorts....
posted by Wilder at 2:16 AM on August 6, 2007

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