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Ireland has lost a ‘true talent and advocate for traditional music’ – warm tributes for legendary musician Paddy Moloney (83)

President Michael D Higgins said Moloney, who died at the age of 83, ‘brought a love of Irish music not just to the diaspora, but to all those across the world who heard his music’

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Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains

Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains

Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains

President Michael D Higgins has described legendary musician Paddy Moloney who has died at the age of 83 as being “at the forefront of the renaissance of interest in Irish music”.

Mr Moloney was the founder and leading figure of The Chieftains, which he set up along with Sean Potts and Michael Tubridy, in the early 1960s.

He passed away last night.

In a statement this afternoon, Mr Higgins said: “The Irish music community, and indeed the much larger community throughout the world who found such inspiration in his work, will have learnt with great sadness today of the passing of Paddy Moloney, founder and leader of the Chieftains.

“Paddy, with his extraordinary skills as an instrumentalist, notably the uileann 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.

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President Michael D Higgins. Photo: Maxwells

President Michael D Higgins. Photo: Maxwells

President Michael D Higgins. Photo: Maxwells

“Not only as a consummate musician himself, but as a founder member of Claddagh Records together with Garech de Brún, he brought a love of Irish music not just to the diaspora, but to all those across the world who heard his music and appreciated it for its own sake as it transcended all musical boundaries.”

Mr Higgins said that his legacy will remain with us in the music which he created and brought to the world.

“On behalf of Sabina and myself, and on behalf of the people of Ireland, I would like to express my deepest condolences to Paddy’s family and friends, and in particular his wife Rita and his children Aonghus, Pádraig and Aedín,” Mr Higgins said. 

The acclaimed performer has been credited with bringing traditional Irish music into the mainstream and his passing has sparked a wave of tributes from those in the industry.

Originally from Donnycarney on Dublin’s northside, the father-of-three was married to artist Rita O’Reilly.

The Chieftains were one of the best-known Irish traditional groups in the world, winning six Grammys and he has left behind an enormous musical legacy.

He grew up in a musical family and began playing the tin whistle at an early age before moving on to the uileann pipes, learning from the pipe master Leo Rowsome.

In a statement, the Irish Traditional Music Archive said that he "made an enormous contribution to Irish traditional music, song and dance" and that "few people can lay claim to having the level of impact Paddy Moloney had on the vibrancy of traditional music throughout the world".

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Paddy Moloney, who was famous for playing the uileann pipes

Paddy Moloney, who was famous for playing the uileann pipes

Paddy Moloney, who was famous for playing the uileann pipes

Maura McGrath, chairperson of the National Concert Hall (NCH), said Ireland has lost a “true talent and advocate for traditional music”.

"His musical achievements 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. In the 40 years that the NCH has been in existence, he has performed the first traditional music concert in 1981 with The Chieftains, played numerous sell-out concerts, served on the Board of the NCH and was awarded the inaugural NCH Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.

"His contribution to the development of traditional music in Ireland cannot be overstated, he will be forever remembered as a gentleman, cultural ambassador, musical talent and a key figure in bringing traditional music in its many forms to a global audience.”

Among those who paid tribute to Mr Moloney today was best-selling author Paul Howard of the Ross O’Carroll Kelly books.

He said that he “spent many happy hours in Paddy Moloney's company while I was working on the Tara Browne book, especially at Luggala. What a wonderful gent. Very sad news.”

Arts Minister Catherine Martin said that with his passing, Ireland has “lost a giant of the national culture landscape”.

“Through The Chieftains, he brought the joy of Irish music to a global audience. His music was a source of celebration and pride for all of us,” she said.

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RTÉ presenter John Creedon said: “He was a key player in Ireland's soundtrack for over 60 years. He played with the best of them: O'Riada, Zappa, Jagger, Stevie Wonder. Condolences to Paddy's family and friends.”

RTÉ presenter John Creedon said: “He was a key player in Ireland's soundtrack for over 60 years. He played with the best of them: O'Riada, Zappa, Jagger, Stevie Wonder. Condolences to Paddy's family and friends.”

RTÉ presenter John Creedon said: “He was a key player in Ireland's soundtrack for over 60 years. He played with the best of them: O'Riada, Zappa, Jagger, Stevie Wonder. Condolences to Paddy's family and friends.”

RTÉ presenter John Creedon said he was sad to hear the news of his passing.

“He was a key player in Ireland's soundtrack for over 60 years. He played with the best of them: O'Riada, Zappa, Jagger, Stevie Wonder. Condolences to Paddy's family and friends,” he said.

Mr Moloney was also a founding member of Na Píobairí Uilleann (NPU), the Society of Uilleann Pipers, which was founded in 1968 when there were less than 100 uilleann pipers remaining. Today it is a thriving arts organisation.

NPU chief executive Gay McKeon said: “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.”


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