herald

Sunday 20 August 2017

Music greats fondly recall legendary Dubliner Jim McCann

Jim McCann funeral
Jim McCann funeral
Jim McCann
Eamonn Campbell
John Sheahan

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina joined Irish music stars yesterday as they gathered to pay their final respects to Dubliners stalwart Jim McCann.

The life of the legendary singer was commemorated at the humanist ceremony led by chief celebrant Brian Whitehead.

Phil Coulter, Shay Healy and Bill Whelan were among the hundreds of mourners who attended the service at the Victorian Chapel in Harolds Cross.

A haunting rendition of Boolavogue played by a group of traditional musicians led by Dubliners member John Sheahan echoed through the church.

During the simple ceremony, Mr Whitehead said they were there to "celebrate and commemorate" the life of Jim McCann, and he called on speakers to deliver anecdotes of their friend.

Streets of London singer-songwriter Ralph McTell was the most emotional of the guests to speak, struggling when he described the pair's "long-lasting friendship".

Coulter fondly remembered his time spent with the singer during his stint as director of Noel Pearson's production of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Gaiety.

"Luke Kelly and Jim became good friends during the production. What's funny is Luke played Judas and Jim played St Peter, but it was Jim who held the show together," Coulter said.

Bill Whelan recalled his time spent with McCann during the 1970s production when he played in the orchestra.

The Riverdance composer said McCann was famous for leading the cast astray. "He invented a new verb," he said. "Any time anybody had partaken in an overly rambunctious session the night before they would simply say, 'I've been McCanned'."

The ceremony came to an emotional end as a recorded version of McCann singing Carrickfergus played in the background to thunderous applause. He was cremated later at Mount Jerome Crematorium.

The 70-year-old had fought a long battle with illness before he died at home last Thursday. Famed for his strong vocals, he took Ronnie Drew's place in the Dubliners following his departure in 1974.

hnews@herald.ie

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