Tommy Makem, the great Irish singer and storyteller who, with the Clancy Brothers, led the revival in Irish folk music in the late 1950s and 1960s, died after a long battle with lung cancer yesterday. He was 74. "To hear Tommy Makem sing 'Four Green Fields,' " writes Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen, "was to hear Enrico Caruso sing 'Vesti la giubba,' or James Brown sing 'I Feel Good.' "
Makem came to the US in 1955 with hopes of making it as an actor, but he and the Clancys—Paddy, Tom and Liam—started singing in pubs in New York to make ends meet, and soon graduated to the Ed Sullivan Show and concert halls all over the world. They brought new audiences to everything Irish, from drinking songs to the works of Yeats and O'Casey.