FolkWorld #76 11/2021
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Paddy Moloney R.I.P.

Paddy Moloney (Irish: Pádraig Ó Maoldomhnaigh; 1 August 1938 – 12 October 2021) was an Irish musician, composer, and record producer. He co-founded and led the Irish musical group the Chieftains, playing on all of their 44 albums. He was particularly associated with the revival of the uilleann pipes.

Na Píobairí Uillean

Na Píobairí Uilleann pays tribute to Paddy Moloney RIP

Paddy Moloney (& Seamus Egan); photo by The Mollis
Na Píobairí Uilleann is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Paddy Moloney. Achieving international acclaim through his prolific and enduring work with The Chieftains, Paddy was also a founder member and founding Board member of Na Píobairí Uilleann (NPU). A giant of a figure in Irish life, he had a profound influence in bringing Irish traditional music and the uilleann pipes to a global audience.

NPU chief executive Gay McKeon paid tribute to Paddy Moloney today: “Paddy Moloney was a wonderful piper, an incredibly creative musician and a powerful performing artist. He helped popularise Irish music all over the world and in doing so, brought the sound of the uilleann pipes to the attention of so many. Along with people like Breandán Breathnach and Séamus Ennis, he played a leading role in the foundation of NPU in 1968 and helped imbue the new organisation with great confidence through his music and his work as a commercial artist. He helped influence a new generation to take up the instrument and play Irish music. We have lost one of the country’s foremost artists whose legacy is inestimable at this point. On behalf of NPU and the uilleann piping community I would like to extend our condolences to his wife Rita, sons Aonghus and Pádraig and daughter Aedín, to the musicians who played with him and his many friends worldwide. Leaba i measc na naomh go raibh aige.”

Pipes; photo by The Mollis
Born in Donnycarney in 1938, Paddy’s musical journey mirrored the growth in interest in Irish music and he was to play a pivotal role in elevating it to a new level. Learning from the great piping master Leo Rowsome in the 1940s he forged an early reputation as a gifted young player before joining Ceoltóirí Chualann under Seán Ó Riada and founding The Chieftains in 1962. His pioneering work in arranging and recording music with The Chieftains marked him apart and his work as a producer with Claddagh Records in the late 1960s and 1970s helped heighten the artistic standing of Irish music and musicians not just abroad but at home. Paddy’s piping, whistle playing and musicianship was central to the sound of The Chieftains and his single-minded dedication as an artist and as a collaborative producer drove the group to stellar heights all over the world and brought enormous pride and self-confidence to Ireland as a result.    |

Paddy Moloney

Moloney was born in the Donnycarney area of Dublin on 1 August 1938, the son of housewife Catherine (née Conroy) and Irish Glass Bottle Company accountant John Moloney. His mother bought him a tin whistle when he was six and he started to learn the uilleann pipes at the age of eight. In addition to the tin whistle and the uilleann pipes, Moloney also played button accordion and bodhrán.

Moloney first met Seán Ó Riada in the late 1950s. He then joined Ó Riada's group, Ceoltóirí Chualann, in 1960. Along with Sean Potts and Michael Tubridy, Moloney formed the traditional Irish band the Chieftains in Dublin in November 1962. As the band leader, he was the primary composer and arranger of much of the Chieftains' music, and composed for films including Treasure Island, The Grey Fox, Braveheart, Gangs of New York, and Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon.

Moloney did session work for Mike Oldfield, The Muppets, Mick Jagger, Gary Moore, Paul McCartney, Sting, Don Henley, and Stevie Wonder. Together with Garech de Brún (anglicised to Garech Browne) of Luggala, he founded Claddagh Records in 1959. In 1968 he became a producer for the label and supervised the recording of 45 albums.

Moloney was married to artist Rita O'Reilly from 1962 until his death in 2021. They met during the 1950s while he was working for Baxendale & Company. They had three children together named Aonghus, Padraig, and Aedin, the last of whom is an actress and producer. He was a fluent speaker of Irish. Moloney died at a hospital in Dublin on 12 October 2021, at the age of 83. His funeral was held on 15 October at St. Kevin's Church in Glendalough, followed by a burial at the adjoining cemetery.

Irish President Michael D. Higgins said, "The Irish music community, and indeed the much larger community throughout the world who found such inspiration in his work, will have learned with great sadness today of the passing of Paddy Moloney. [...] Paddy, with his extraordinary skills as an instrumentalist, notably the uilleann pipes and bodhrán, was at the forefront of the renaissance of interest in Irish music, bringing a greater appreciation of Irish music and culture internationally."

Maura McGrath, chairwoman of the National Concert Hall in Dublin, said, "His musical achievement with the Chieftains was, and will continue to be, recognised as outstanding, transcending all musical boundaries, and connecting Irish people everywhere with their unique sound. Paddy's contribution to, and support of, the National Concert Hall throughout his lifetime has been immense."

Moloney received the Ohtli Award, Mexico's highest cultural award, on 13 September 2012. On 28 June of the following year, he and the other members of the Chieftains received the Castelao Medal by the Government of Galicia, Spain for services to Galician culture and society. He was named a Commander of the Order of Civil Merit in Spain four years later.

Ceoltóirí Chualann

Ceoltóirí Chualann (pronounced [ˈcoːl̪ˠt̪ˠoːɾʲiː ˈxuəlˠən̪ˠ]) was an Irish traditional band, led by Seán Ó Riada, which included many of the founding members of The Chieftains. Ceoltóirí is the Irish word for musicians, and Cualann is the name of an area just outside Dublin where Ó Riada lived. Ó Riada's work with Ceoltóirí Chualann is credited with revitalizing the use of the bodhrán as a percussion instrument in Celtic music.

Ceoltóirí Chualann

In 1960 Ó Riada was looking for musicians to perform music for the play "The Song of the Anvil" by Bryan MacMahon. Paddy Moloney, at the age of 20, was called to participate in the project, along with his friend Sean Potts on tin whistle, Sonny Brogan on accordion and John Kelly on fiddle. They rehearsed weekly in Ó Riada's house in Galloping Green, on the outskirts of Dublin.

Following its success, Ó Riada had the idea of forming Ceoltóirí Chualann, a band to play traditional Irish songs with accompaniment and traditional dance tunes and slow airs, arranged with instruments: harpsichord, bodhran, piano, fiddle, accordions, flute, pipes and whistles. The idea of actually arranging folk music, or dance music, had been done on at least one or two 78rpm recordings in the past, but they were folk tunes done in a classical way, highly orchestrated. Another aim was to revitalize the work of blind harpist and composer Turlough O'Carolan.

The band was launched during the Dublin Theatre Festival in September 1960, at the Shelbourne Hotel, at an event called Reacaireacht an Riadaigh (Ó Riada's Recital). Included in the program were traditional singers, writer Seán Ó Ríordáin and poet Seán Ó Tuama. In March of the following year Ó Riada recorded the first of a series of radio programmes for which he retained the name Reacaireacht an Riadaigh, and included music played by Ceoltóirí Chualann. Soon after the band's formation, Peadar Mercier and Seán Keane joined.

Ceoltóirí Chualann continued to play until 1969. Their music was featured in the 1968 documentary, The Village, by Mark McCarty (director) and Paul Hockings (anthropologist). During 1969 they recorded two albums, Ó Riada and Ó Riada Sa Gaiety. The latter of those two albums was not released until after 1971, when Seán Ó Riada died.

The Chieftains

The Chieftains are a traditional Irish band formed in Dublin in 1962, by Paddy Moloney, Sean Potts and Michael Tubridy. Their sound, which is almost entirely instrumental and largely built around uilleann pipes, has become synonymous with traditional Irish music and they are regarded as having helped popularise Irish music across the world. They have won six Grammys during their career and they were given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the prestigious BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2002. Some music experts have credited The Chieftains with bringing traditional Irish music to a worldwide audience, so much so that the Irish government awarded them the honorary title of 'Ireland's Musical Ambassadors' in 1989.

The Chieftains

The band's name came from the book Death of a Chieftain by Irish author John Montague. Assisted early on by Garech Browne, they signed with his company Claddagh Records. They needed financial success abroad, and succeeded in this, as within a few years their third album's sleeve note section was printed in three languages.

Derek Bell

Paddy Moloney came out of Ceoltóirí Chualann, a group of musicians who specialised in instrumentals, and sought to form a new band. They had their first rehearsals at Moloney's house, with David Fallon and Martin Fay joining the original three. The group remained only semi-professional up until the 1970s and by then had achieved great success in Ireland and the United Kingdom. In 1973, their popularity began to spread to the United States when their previous albums were released there by Island Records. They received further acclaim when they worked on the Academy Award–winning soundtrack to Stanley Kubrick's 1975 film Barry Lyndon, which triggered their transition to the mainstream in the US.

The group continued to release successful records throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and their work with Van Morrison in 1988 resulted in the critically acclaimed album Irish Heartbeat. They went on to collaborate with many other well-known musicians and singers; among them Luciano Pavarotti, the Rolling Stones, Madonna, Sinéad O'Connor and Roger Daltrey. In 2012, they celebrated their 50th anniversary with an ambitious album and tour. The album, Voice of Ages, was produced by T-Bone Burnett and featured the Chieftains collaborating with many musicians including Bon Iver, Paolo Nutini and The Decemberists. It also included a collaboration with NASA astronaut Catherine Coleman playing the flute aboard the International Space Station as it orbited the earth. The Chieftains performed at Carnegie Hall on March 17, 2012.

They played in a concert for Pope John Paul II, before an audience of more than one million people in 1979 in Phoenix Park in Dublin, to mark the Papal visit to Ireland. In 1983, they were invited by the Chinese Government to perform with the Chinese Broadcasting Art Group in a concert on the Great Wall of China, becoming the first western musical group to do so. They were the first group to perform in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., invited by Senator Edward Kennedy and the former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill. In 2011, they performed at a concert in Dublin attended by President Mary McAleese and Queen Elizabeth II of Britain during her first ever official trip to the Republic of Ireland.

Matt Molloy

The Chieftains & Van Morrison

The band have become known for their vast work of collaborations with popular musicians of many genres, including country music, Galician traditional music, Newfoundland music, and rock and roll. Their widespread work as collaborators resulted in the Irish Government awarding the group the honorary title of Ireland's Musical Ambassadors in 1989. In May 1986, they performed at Self Aid, a benefit concert held in Dublin that focused on the problem of chronic unemployment which was widespread in Ireland at that time. In 1994, they appeared in Roger Daltrey's production, album and video of A Celebration: The Music of Pete Townshend and The Who. They also performed with Canadian astronaut Cmdr. Chris Hadfield in Houston, TX on 15 February 2013. Cmdr. Hadfield sang and played guitar on "Moondance" from aboard the International Space Station.

The band has won six Grammy Awards and been nominated eighteen times. They have won an Emmy and a Genie and contributed tracks, including their highly praised version of the song Women of Ireland, to Leonard Rosenman's Oscar-winning score for Stanley Kubrick's 1975 film Barry Lyndon. In 2002 they were given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the UK's BBC Radio 2. Two of their singles have been minor hits in the UK Singles Chart. "Have I Told You Lately" (credited to The Chieftains with Van Morrison) reached No. 71 in 1995. "I Know My Love" (credited to The Chieftains featuring The Corrs) reached No. 37 in 1999.

Dr. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin said the success of The Chieftains helped place Irish traditional music on a par with other musical genres in the world of popular entertainment. By collaborating with pop and rock musicians, they have taken Irish music to a much wider audience. They have become, in effect, musical ambassadors for Ireland. This de facto role was officially recognised by the Irish Government in 1989 when it awarded the group the honorary title of Ireland's Musical Ambassadors.

In February 2019, The Chieftains embarked on an extensive farewell tour entitled the "Irish Goodbye Tour", including a 2019 European leg, a 2020 Canadian leg and two 2019 and 2020 US legs. On 13 March 2020, the band announced that a few tour dates of their "Irish Goodbye Tour" had been postponed (until further notice) following the coronavirus situation.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [,,]. Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

Date: November 2021.

Photo Credits: (1) Paddy Moloney, (4) Ceoltóirí Chualann, (5)-(8) The Chieftains (unknown); (2)-(3) Paddy Moloney (by The Mollis).

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