Paddy Moloney
Paddy Moloney (Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock)

Paddy Moloney Co-Founder And Bandleader Of The Chieftains, Dead At 83

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(CelebrityAccess) — Paddy Moloney, the Irish musician, composer, and producer who co-founded the legendary traditional Celtic band The Chieftains, has died. He was 83.

His passing was announced by The Irish Traditional Music Archive, who said “few people can lay claim to having the level of impact Paddy Moloney had on the vibrancy of traditional music throughout the world. What a wonderful musical legacy he has left us.”

A cause of death was not disclosed.

Born in Donnycarney, Dublin, Ireland, in 1938 Moloney picked up the traditional Irish instruments of the tin whistle and Uilleann pipes, taking lessons from Celtic pipe legend Leo Rowsome while Maloney still a young child.

After graduating from school, he took a job as an accountant at a building firm but pursued his love of traditional Irish music as a sideline, performing with other traditional artists and groups, including Seán Ó Riada and his band Ceoltóirí Chualann, which also included many future members of the Chieftains.

Moloney, along with Sean Potts and Michael Tubridy, co-founded the Chieftains in 1962. Maloney served as the band’s leader and chief composer/arranger and was the only member of the group to perform on all of the Chieftains’ numerous albums.

Despite achieving success in Ireland, and the U.K., The Chieftains remained semi-professional until the early 1970s when they began to generate fans in the United States, propelled by a distribution deal with Island Record.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Chieftains collaborated with a who’s who of acclaimed artists, ranging from other Irish performers such as The Pogues and Van Morrison to contemporary artists such as Bela Fleck, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, and Diana Krall.

The Chieftains embarked on a farewell tour in 2019 but were forced to suspend several dates towards the end of the tour due to the arrival of COVID-19.


In addition to his work with The Chieftains, Moloney was a noted session musician specializing in traditional Irish instruments, including the Uilleann pipes, the button accordion, and the frame drum known as the bodhrán. Moloney performed in recording sessions for artists such as Mike Oldfield, Sting, Paul McCartney, and Mick Jagger.

He also partnered with Garech de Brún in 1959 to launch Claddagh Records and became a producer for the label in 1968, overseeing the production of 45 albums.

He was married to artist Rita O’Reilly and has three children, Aonghus Moloney, Padraig Moloney, and actress producer Aedin Moloney.

After news of his passing broke, tributes poured in from his friends, colleagues, and admirers, including Irish President Michael D Higgins, who praised Maloney’s “extraordinary skills” which helped create a renaissance for traditional Irish music.

“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,” Higgens said.

In a statement to CelebrityAccess, the Chieftains manager Steve Macklam added: “Paddy was the quintessential wandering minstrel, an endlessly curious, irrepressibly creative force of nature. There really was no corner of the world, no manner music that he hadn’t held in his musical embrace. From the frozen wastes of Antarctica to the Great Wall of China, he was there, tin whistle in hand. Popes, Presidents, Pavarottis, you name it, he charmed them all. There are enough stories and memories to keep us all smiling a very, very long time.”

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