Chieftains founder Paddy Moloney ‘lived for music’, funeral Mass told

The church was full to capacity and some 2,500 people watched the service online

The funeral of Paddy Moloney founder of the Chieftains, has taken place at St Kevin’s Church, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow. Video: Ronan McGreevy

 

The Chieftains founder Paddy Moloney was laid to rest in the beautiful location of Glendalough, a place as timeless as the music he made world-famous.

St Kevin’s Church hosted the funeral mass of Mr Moloney (83), a native of Donnycarney, Co Dublin, but who has made his home in the beautiful surroundings of Annamoe, Co Wicklow for many decades.

It was not only the home for himself and his wife Rita and their children, but a retreat from the constant rounds of touring which have been a feature of his life since he founded The Chieftains in 1962.

Matt Molloy, a member of The Chieftains, at the funeral of Chieftains founder Paddy Moloney at St Kevin’s Church, Glendalough, Co Wicklow, on Friday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Matt Molloy, a member of The Chieftains, at the funeral of Chieftains founder Paddy Moloney at St Kevin’s Church, Glendalough, Co Wicklow, on Friday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina were among those present in the little church at the top of a steep hill, with children from Scoil Chaoimhín Naofa national school providing a guard of honour as the funeral hearse made its way to the church.

Current and former Chieftains Matt Molloy, Seán Keane and Michael Tubridy provided the music for the funeral mass from the altar. They were joined by uilleann piper Gay McKeown, the Galician piper Carlos Núñez and the fiddle player Tara Howley.

A portrait of Mr Moloney as a schoolboy holding a trophy he won for playing music was placed on the altar along with the uilleann pipes that made him world-renowned just as he made this most complex of instruments famous. A tin whistle was also placed on the altar.

Parish priest Fr Eamonn Crossan said Mr Moloney was of “Donnycarney, Annamoe and Carnegie Hall” along with many other places around the world.

Heaven

Nobody knew what heaven was really like, but the Bible tells us there is music in it, he continued.

“Maybe Ronnie Drew will be there, Luke Kelly and [Patrick] Kavanagh would be saying that you didn’t get it right, you missed the line. St Peter would be saying, ‘Keep it quiet lads, you are disturbing the angels.’”

Aonghus Moloney joked that his father had opened for the pope, The Rolling Stones and lastly, “for the budget last Tuesday” – a reference to the announcement of his father’s death which occurred on the same day as Budget 2022 was announced.

Kevin Conneff of The Chieftains at the funeral of Paddy Moloney in St Kevin’s Church, Glendalough, Co Wicklow on Friday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Kevin Conneff of The Chieftains at the funeral of Paddy Moloney in St Kevin’s Church, Glendalough, Co Wicklow on Friday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

“A special thanks to The Chieftains. Paddy would always have wanted it that they would have the final note. Paddy’s life was The Chieftains,” he said.

His father had lived for his time on stage, when he would walk on stage and announce that he was “Paddy Moloney from Dublin, Ireland, the greatest city in the world”.

Love affair

Above all else he was devoted to his wife, Rita. Theirs was a 60-year love affair. His father loved doing what he did and when the Covid-19 pandemic happened in March 2020, it took away from him the thing he loved doing the most: playing music for other people, his son concluded.

The chief mourners were his wife, Rita, their children, Aonghus, Aedín and Pádraig, and Mr Moloney’s four grandchildren.

Tributes to Mr Moloney were paid from all over the world. Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger tweeted: “Sad to hear of Paddy Moloney’s passing – the greatest uilleann piper on the planet.”

Mourners at the funeral of the Chieftains founder Paddy Moloney at St Kevin’s Church, Glendalough, Wicklow. Chief mourners were Paddy’s wife, Rita, their children Aonghus, Aedín and Pádraig and their grandchildren. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Mourners at the funeral of the Chieftains founder Paddy Moloney at St Kevin’s Church, Glendalough, Wicklow. Chief mourners were Paddy’s wife, Rita, their children Aonghus, Aedín and Pádraig and their grandchildren. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The church was full to capacity and seats were arranged outside for the extra mourners. Among the traditional musicians who came to pay tribute to him were Louise Mulcahy, Noel Hill, Sean Óg Potts, Bernie Potts, Joe McKenna, Joe McHugh, Mark Redmond, Cobblestones pub owner and musician Tom Mulligan and his brother, the uilleann piper Néillidh Mulligan.

The biggest audience, though, was online. Some 2,500 people watched the funeral service on YouTube live. In death, as in life, Paddy Moloney could still pull a crowd.

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