Sad news this morning as it has been announced that Irish country music legend Big Tom has died. He was 81.

The Monaghan native, full name Tom McBride, began his musical career in 1966 and was best known for fronting the showband Big Tom and the Mainliners, who had toured up until recent years.

His family released a statement announcing his passing, which read:

"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear father Big Tom McBride (RIP) this morning.

Dad passed away peacefully in the company of his family. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

May he rest in peace.''

Fans have been paying tribute to 'Ireland's King of Country Music' on social media: