Dubliners' founder dies

Ronnie Drew, a founding member of the Irish folk group The Dubliners, died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. He was 73.

Drew, born in Dublin in 1934, formed The Dubliners in 1962 with Luke Kelly, Ciaran Bourke and Barney McKenna. Their songs include "The Molly Maguires", "Dirty Old Town" and "Seven Drunken Nights". The Dubliners also recorded with The Pogues, and together they had a hit with "The Irish Rover". Drew also released a string of solo albums.

The Irish President Mary McAleese yesterday called Drew a "champion of traditional Irish music".

She said: "With The Dubliners, he re-energised and refreshed our unique musical heritage. He brought great pleasure to the people of Ireland and yet more around the world."

Drew's wife, Deirdre, died last year. He is survived by two children and five grandchildren.

Earlier this year musicians, including Bono of U2, Christy Moore, Shane MacGowan and Sinead O'Connor, released a song called "The Ballad of Ronnie Drew". All profits from the single went to the Irish Cancer Society.

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