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Master piper who formed folk band Planxty dies after long illness

Irish music giant Liam O’Flynn, who helped form influential folk band Planxty, has died aged 72.

The uilleann piper, who collaborated with Kate Bush and Sinead O’Connor, had been suffering from a long illness.

O’Flynn formed Planxty in 1972 along with Christy Moore, Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny, all of which were multi-instrumentalists.

Planxty had several members come and go over the years and broke up once in 1975, then again in 1983.

O’Flynn joined the original three members for a reunion in October 2003 and they played their last gig in 2005.

The master piper performed with Bush on her 1985 album Hounds of Love, and played on O’Connor’s track My Special Child in 1991.

O’Flynn also played with Enya, Dire Straits frontman Mark Knoplfler and The Everly brothers.

Liam O'Flynn
The musician collaborated with Enya and Sinead O’Connor

In 1980, he worked with poet Seamus Heaney and composer Shaun Davey on The Brendan Voyage, which tells the story of an epic sea voyage to the backdrop of orchestral music.

He also released five solo albums.

O’Flynn played the uilleann pipes, which are characterised as the Irish bagpipes.

Irish musician Phil Coulter was among the first to pay tribute to O’Flynn, a native of Co Kildare to the west of Dublin.

Coulter tweeted: “Devastated to hear that the great Liam Og O Flynn has passed away. He was a king among pipers and a prince among men. A complete musician and a gentle soul.”

The Arts Council of Ireland described Mr O’Flynn as a “virtuoso piper of international renown who brought uilleann piping and Irish music to the world stage”.

Singer Brian Kennedy tweeted: “I was only thinking about the great Liam O’Flynn about 30 mins ago when I was driving near Kilcullen. I knew he’d been ill for some time. We met many times over the years. What a gorgeous man and musician.

“Rest in Pipes! BK x”.

Musician and songwriter Eleanor McEvoy, chairwoman of the Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO), said it was a sad day for Irish music.

She tweeted: “Just landed in Amsterdam to hear the dreadfully sad news that Liam O’Flynn, legendary Irish piper has passed away. Sad day for Irish music RIP Liam.”

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