Monday 11 December 2017

Tributes paid to legendary Dubliner Jim McCann

Singer Jim McCann
Singer Jim McCann

Members of the Dubliners have paid tribute to bandmate Jim McCann who died yesterday.

He had bravely fought a long battle with throat cancer which forced him to leave the group over a decade ago.

The 70-year-old folk singer famed for his strong vocals took up Ronnie Drew’s role with the group following his departure in 1974.

Jim left the balladeers in 1979 to pursue a solo career where he enjoyed considerable success.

One of his most famous recordings was Grace, a song written by Frank and Seán O’Meara.

The Rathgar native rejoined The Dubliners in 2002 for the bands 40th Anniversary celebrations.

During the 2002 tour, he was diagnosed with throat cancer and inevitably had to leave the band again due to his ill health.

But he continued to collaborate with the group; taking photographs for them and occasionally playing the guitar.

Despite his battles, Dubliner Eamon Campbell said he never let it get him down.

“He had a rough time of it, but he never let it beat him,”    he told the Herald.

“Jim was great fun to be with, always laughing and joking, an eternal optimist.

“He was a massively underestimated guitar player and was an amazing singer,” he said,

“He had the voice of an angel. I will miss him,” he added, “we are a dying breed.

“He put his interests into photography and writing when he took ill.  Jim was a fantastic writer, he had an amazing ability with words.

“The article he wrote for the Sunday Independent on his 70th birthday recently blew me away, it was fantastic, he was a great storyteller”.

Treatment for his condition left Jim unable to sing – a development that the longest serving Dubliner, John Sheahan, said impacted on him greatly.

“He didn’t have a great quality of life in recent years; he was always in and out of hospital.

“Jim had a beautiful, sweet, lyrical voice,” he said, “it was very sad when he lost his ability to use it.

“But he remained positive, he was a bubbly character, always ready to share a joke”, he was a natural raconteur,” Mr Sheahan said.


Jim hosted his own RTE show The McCann Man, which aired in 1974.

It featured the only televised recording of Luke Kelly singing Scorn Not His Simplicity.

McCann, who studied to be a doctor but later decided on a career in music, was very close with Luke.

“It was Luke who asked Jim to join us, they were extremely good friends,” Mr Sheahan said.

The pair starred together in a Noel Pearson production of Jesus Christ Superstar in The Gaiety Theatre in Dublin.

Jim is survived by his wife, Phyl.


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