Over 3,000 people turned out in Castleblaney, Co Monaghan, today for the unveiling of a sculpture of country music star Big Tom McBride.

Fans of the star, who passed away last April, travelled from all over the country to see the statue created by English sculptor Mark Richards.

The plan to erect the sculpture was put in place a year before his death.

His son, Tom McBride Jnr, said he was a reluctant subject for the sculptor but the family were delighted with the image that had been produced, and hoped his many friends and fans from around the country and overseas could see his lasting image. 

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The larger-than-life sculpture was unveiled by President Michael D Higgins this afternoon as part of the Castleblayney Celebrates Big Tom Festival.

Members of the McBride family had already seen the commissioned sculpture in Mr Richards' studio in England.

Dermot McBride travelled over to meet the sculptor and family members had spoken of their satisfaction with the work.

Big Tom statue
The larger-than-life statue of Big Tom McBride (Pic: Taine King)

McBride and his band, The Mainliners, appeared on RTÉ's The Showband Show in 1966 with Gentle Mother, a song that became a huge hit, establishing them at the forefront of the Irish country scene.

They were huge stars in the 60s and 70s, packing out ballrooms around the country and McBride became known as "The King" of Irish country music.

He was also known for songs such as Four Country Roads and Back to Castleblayney.

The Monaghan man was the first inductee into the Irish Country Music Awards Hall of Fame on RTÉ One in June 2016.