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Paddy Moloney, founder of The Chieftains, dies aged 83

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Paddy Moloney, founder of The Chieftains, dies aged 83

14 October 2021

Irish Heritage has learned with regret of the passing of Paddy Moloney on Tuesday (12th November).

Paddy was the founder and leader of The Chieftains who became one of the best known traditional Irish music groups in the world, winning six Grammies and many other awards.

Born in 1938 in Donnycarney in north Dublin, Paddy grew up in a musical family. He started playing the tin whistle and moved on to the uileann pipes, learning from the great pipemaster Leo Rowsome.

Paddy formed several duets and trios before setting up The Chieftains in 1962 with Sean Potts, Michael Tubridy and later Matt Molloy.

Moloney and The Chieftains worked with a wide range of artists over their long career, making guest appearances with and contributing to albums by Ry Cooder, Marianne Faithful, Mick Jagger, Elvis Costello and Sinead O'Connor. In 1987 they recorded the acclaimed album Irish Heartbeat with Van Morrison.

Paddy, who also played button accordion and bodhrán, was the main composer and arranger 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.

After starting out in the construction sector, Moloneybegan working full time in the music industry in 1968 as Managing Director of Claddagh Records which had been established by the Honorable Garech Browne who was related to the Guinness family. Paddy ran the label until 1975 and helped establish its catalogue and reputation as one the leading imprints for traditional and folk music.

While at Claddagh he also produced, co-produced or supervised 45 albums of folk, traditional, classical, poetry and spoken word recordings in the process saving and creating much valuable historical material.

Paddy was a frequent visitor to London where he was well known to many people associated with Irish Heritage. He always had time for a good humoured chat about all things music and was encouraging about the charity’s efforts to promote young artists.

Commenting on his passing, Audrey McKenna, Artistic Director of Irish Heritage said, “Paddy was an exceptional piper and performing artist who helped promote Irish music to audiences all over the world. Despite his fame, he always had time to encourage one and give you that little push to keep striving for your dreams.”

Irish Heritage extends its sympathy to Mr Moloney’s wife, the artist Rita O'Reilly, and three children, Aonghus, Padraig and Aedin, his friends and extended family.

As dheisDé go raibhaanam.

Paddy Moloney, a master of the uileann pipes
Paddy Moloney, a master of the uileann pipes