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John Francis McCormack, KSG, KSS, KHS (14 June 1884 – 16 September 1945) was an Irish tenor, celebrated for his performances of the operatic and popular song repertoires, and renowned for his diction and breath control. He was also a Papal Count. He became a naturalised American citizen before returning to live in Ireland.
John Francis McCormack was born in Athlone, County Westmeath, Ireland, the fourth of eleven children of Andrew McCormack and Hannah Watson on 14 June 1884, and was baptised in St. Mary's Church, Athlone, on 23 June 1884. His parents were employed at the Athlone Woollen Mills.
McCormack received his early education from the Marist Brothers in Athlone, and he later attended Summerhill College, Sligo. He sang in the choir of the old St. Peters church in Athlone under his choirmaster Michael Kilkelly. When the family moved to Dublin, he sang in the choir of St Mary's Pro-Cathedral where he was discovered by Vincent O'Brien. In 1903 he won the coveted gold medal of the Dublin Feis Ceoil. He married Lily Foley in 1906 and they had two children, Cyril and Gwen.
In March 1904, McCormack became associated with James Joyce, who at the time had singing ambitions himself. Richard Ellmann, in his biography of Joyce, states that "Joyce spent several evenings with him" (i.e. McCormack), practising; along with Joyce's acquaintance Richard Best; McCormack persuaded Joyce to enter the Feis Ceoil that year, where the famous writer was awarded the Bronze Medal (3rd prize).