President Michael D Higgins and Fr Brian D’Arcy are among the many who paid tribute to the late Larry Cunningham, who died on Friday September 28.
A native of Clooneen, Mullinalaghta, Larry Cunningham conquered the music world with his unique voice and his wonderful stage presence.
A talented footballer in his youth, the north Longford man became a carpenter but it wasn’t too long before the boards of the dancehalls called to him.
Along with his band, the Mighty Avons, he became a showband legend, packing out ballrooms the length and breadth of Ireland. It wasn’t long before his appeal spread further than these shores and the emigrant community, in particular, took the Longford man to their hearts.
Over his 50-year career, he achieved many ‘firsts’. He was the first Irish performer to chart in the UK with his 1964 single ‘Tribute to Jim Reeves’. Larry Cunningham and the Mighty Avons were the first Irish showband to play at Carnegie Hall in New York.
Throughout his career, he perfomed with many legends including Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Junior and Loretta Lynn. He remained a much-loved fixture on the local music scene and was still packing out venues before his illness took hold.
He will be remembered as a wonderful musician and a great storyteller who put Longford on the map and paved the way for many country music stars over the years.
Most of all, he will be rememberd as a true gentleman, a loving husband to his wife Beatrice, a devoted father to his children Regina, Sinead, Lorcan and Barry and proud grandfather to Molly and Peter.