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Monaghan's gentle giant of country came to the fore when 'Gentle Mother' entered the charts in 1967. It reached number 7 and stayed in the charts for 8 weeks. Big Tom, alias Tom Mc Bride, had spent some time working in London for Halls Ice Cream when he got a telegram to say his brother had died. The telegram brought him back to Castleblayney where he teamed up with local lads to play in the Fincairn, a local ceilidh band. In 1960 he joined the Mainliners. They played the dance halls and were responsible for changing the showband scene, introducing country into the act. The successful group stayed together for 14 years until Tom left to try something new. He joined The Travellers and had the huge hit 'Four Country Roads'. In 1989 Tom reformed the original Mainliners and they still gig today. His latest album 'Going Out the Same Way I Came In' was the biggest selling country album in Ireland in 2005.
Tom's success has not been without its share of problems, Big Tom was the subject of controversy when in 1989 he appeared in the High Court. The case against Tom Mc Bride collapsed when a fan, Geraldine Shields, withdrew her allegations of sexual misconduct and Big Tom's name was cleared.