1935 - 2009
Liam was the youngest, and the last living member, of the Clancy Brothers of Carrick-on-Suir in Co. Tipperary, Ireland.
While still in his teens, Liam explored writing and painting, though he was particularly drawn to the theatre. Before he was twenty years old, Liam had founded the local dramatic society and had produced, directed, set-designed, and starred in J. M. Synge's "The Playboy of the Western World".
In 1955, American song-collector Diane Hamilton Guggenheim arrived at the Clancy home while on a song-collecting tour of Ireland. Liam joined her on her tour and, on a visit to Keady Co. Armagh, they met the singer Sarah Makem and her son Tommy. Both Liam and Tommy emigrated to America the following year, pursuing careers in acting, both on stage and television.
Liam began singing with his brothers at fund-raising events for the Cherry Lane Theatre and at Woody Guthrie benefits. The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem, began recording on their own"Tradition" label in the late 50's. A record breaking 16 minute long performance on the Ed Sullivan Show launched the group into stardom. The quartet recorded numerous albums for Columbia Records and enjoyed great success during the 60's folk revival.
In 1973, Liam left the group to pursue a solo career. He moved to Calgary, Alberta, where he became an established television performer. Liam had his own series, which won a Canadian Emmy Award. A guest spot by Tommy Makem on the show led to a reunion with his old pal. As "Makem & Clancy", the two recorded many albums which included several hits such as "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" and "The Dutchman". They toured and recorded together until the late 80's.
After his brother Tom's death in 1990, Liam joined his brothers Paddy and Bobby and nephew Robbie O'Connell, though he still performed some shows with his Fayerweather Band as well as with the Phil Coulter Orchestra. From 1996-1999, Liam toured with his son, Donal Clancy, and Robbie O'Connell. The group, known as "Clancy O'Connell & Clancy", delighted audiences across North America and Europe. They released two highly praised albums together.
Liam continued to perform as a solo act accompanied by his friends Paul Grant and Kevin Evans and occasionally by members of the Irish Traditional music group 'Danu' at theatres and festivals across North America, Ireland and Europe.
In 2008 Liam released his final album "The Wheels of Life”,which documents the work Liam had been doing in recent years and includes a compelling version of Shane McGowan's beautiful autobiographical tune “The Broad Majestic Shannon” and a powerful rendering of Paul Brady's classic “Follow On”. This album also contained touching duets with two of Ireland 's finest female vocalists, folk singer Mary Black and Rock singer songwriter Gemma Hayes. The Album ends with three bonus live tracks featuring guest appearances from Donovan and Tom Paxton joining Liam's regular musicians Kevin Evans and Paul Grant with members of traditional Irish band Danú including singer Muireann NicAmhlaoibh and Slide fiddler Daire Bracken .
In 2008 Liam performed in a filmed concert titled Liam Clancy and Friends, Live at the Bitter End. On this occasion Liam was accompanied on stage by his son Donal Clancy,Paul Grant, Kevin Evans, Mary Rafferty, Tom Doorley and Daire Bracken. The concert also featured special guest appearances by Odetta, Tom Paxton, Shane MacGowan, Eric Bibb and Gemma Hayes.
Prior to his death on the 4th December 2009 Liam had completed work on a feature documentary 'The Yellow Bittern ' directed by award winning director Alan Gilsenen.
It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
Life to the lees. All times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea.
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
"Ulysses", by Alfred Lord Tennyson.