We have received word from Charles McKenna of the Irish Cultural Centre of Tommy Makem's death from lung cancer yesterday. We take the liberty of quoting his letter of August 1, in our inbox this morning, here:
Culture Editor, WGT
A Chara, Friend,
This is Charlie McKenna and I am writing this message with a very heavy heart. A personal hero of mine has been called home to God. The Bard of Armagh, Dr. Tommy Makem, passed away tonight after a long battle with Lung Cancer.
I cannot help but think of the times that I spoke with Tommy on the phone and asked advice about the festival, or the times when we would sit backstage and he would share poetry with me about my family name and County Monaghan. I can't help but think of the times when he would grace our stages in these past years. If he was not making music with his banjo and lilting voice, he was speaking to the hearts of each and every soul in the audience like a father to a child.
Arrangements have yet to be announced. Please afford the family the chance to grieve and heal. I believe that a memorial fund will be established and I will be sure to pass on any information as it comes along.
For tonight, please join me in a recitation of the Rosary for Dr. Tommy Makem. We love you Tommy and we thank you from the deepest reaches of our hearts for your music, your humor, your wisdom and your greatest legacy, your fine family. Tonight, Bard of Armagh, all of the answers are known to you and you are in paradise.
Founder & Executive Director
Irish Cultural Centre of Long Island
& Great Hunger Memorial
Long Island Irish Festival