tweety stuff @ronanfromcork

first published in @The Evening Echo 2015-01-29


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Interview with Matt Molloy

The winding career paths that Irish traditional musicians take is exemplified by Matt Molloy, the flautist who was an original member of the The Bothy Band, then joined Planxty, and became a member of The Chieftains in 197. He has released 10 albums under his own name and in collaboration with other musicians, his most recent record ‘Pathway To The Well’ was released in 2007 and recorded with John Carty and Arty McGlynn.

That trio will be performing tomorrow night as part of The Ballincollig Winter Music Festival, Matt’s explanation for how the trio came to be formed is not a particularly dramatic one, “I suppose we’ve been friends was the start of it, myself and Arty go way back. I met John about 20 years ago, we are from the same neck of the woods, while he was born in London all his people are from around Boyle which is about 12 miles from where I’m from, Ballaghaderreen. It’s always been good for our kind of music in that area of North Roscommon, South Sligo, parts of Leitrim and a corner of Mayo, there’s a strong tradition of fiddle and flute music.”

While the trio have been playing together for many years there is no set routine for them, “it’s not a hard and fast thing, we work in different orbits if you like, and every now and then we get on the same page and might be able to do a few gigs together. We all really enjoy playing with one another, all three of us have the same music interests.  We always talk about making another album, and we probably will when we get our bits and pieces together and we find some time we do that. At Ballincollig we’ll play a lot of sets that aren’t on the album, we’ve plenty built up now!”

Matt’s schedule after this concert is a busy one, “I’m with The Chieftains all the time, we did two big tours last year. We are taking it a little bit easier now but still we’re very functional, we’re off to the States for a pretty intensive four week tour in February and March doing the East and West coast. We’ve been doing it every year, I’m only the young fella as I’m only with them the last 35 years! There’s talk of heading to Japan at some point this year too.”

Traditional music gigs, unlike most other genres, tend to have blurred lines between the ‘opening’ and ‘headline’ acts, with musicians joining each other for sets. When speaking about Jackie Daly, the original accordion player in De Dannan, and Matt Cranitch, a highly acclaimed fiddle player, a duo who chiefly play Sliabh Luachra music, Matt Molloy said  “there’s a very likely chance that we’ll all end up playing together that night, we’ve all played with each other in various combinations, just on and off over the years at different sessions. we go way back. The music fraternity, it’s a small world really, you’ll always bump into someone sooner or later!”

Outside of his music career, Matt also runs his own pub ‘Matt Molloys’ which won last years IMRO’s Connaught live music venue of the year. He feels the connection between pub and traditional Irish music is a vital relationship, “as both a publican and a musician, I think it’s very important for pubs and venues to support music. From my own point of view I’d like to think musicians are looked after. I can remember when I started off we’d be told to put the fiddle and flutes away ‘they don’t have music in this place’ and that’s not too long ago. When I moved to Dublin first in 1964, there were only 2 clubs to play in, there was The Pipers Club on Thomas Street which was on a Saturday night, and the Church Street Club which was on a Wednesday night which was run by Leitrim and Sligo ex-pats. They were the only outlets really for traditional music, there was none in any of the pubs at that time at all. Shortly after that O’Donoghues started to allow the music in, from which The Dubliners grew from, and then the ballad boom came along. I think it’s very important that pubs cater for music and give that facility.”

Matt applauds The White Horse for initiating the Ballincollig Winter Music Festival, “I think it’s a wonderful idea to have a festival at this time of year. Anything to shorten the winter, raise the spirits and bring a feelgood atmosphere, who wouldn’t like that! It keeps you going until the grass starts to grow…”

Matt Molloy & John Carty & Arty McGlynn play The White Horse on Friday 30 January with special guests Jackie Daly and Matt Cranitch. Doors are 8.30pm and tickets are available via


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